Along with casting ballots for the next U.S. president and a new junior senator from California, Orange County voters will decide the fate of at least two local school facilities bond measures in November.
The Orange Unified School District and the Brea Olinda Unified School District recently announced they’ll be placing separate bond measures on the Nov. 8 ballot following unanimous votes by their respective school boards. Orange Unified will ask those within its boundaries to approve up to $288 million to finance school safety and modernization projects, while the Brea Olinda Unified School District will seek $148 million over 25 years to repair, upgrade and modernize its facilities.
Orange Unified’s Board of Education voted unanimously on July 21 to place the “District Classroom & Facility Safety, Modernization and Renovation Measure” on the ballot. If approved by at least 55 percent of the district’s voters, the measure would allow Orange Unified to invest in upgrades at Canyon, El Modena, Orange and Villa Park high schools.
Projects authorized under the measure would include the addition of classrooms and labs for career education and advanced sciences courses required for college and university admissions; enhancement of instructional technology; the retrofitting of buildings for earthquake safety; and upgrades to core infrastructure, campus security and emergency systems.
The bond’s passage would also make the district eligible for about $60 million in state matching funds, district officials said.
“Our 2014 school bond fell less than 200 votes short of the threshold to pass,” Orange Unified Superintendent Michael Christensen said. “While disappointing, we took this as an opportunity to reach out and listen even more carefully to OUSD voters in an effort to develop a proposal that our community can support.”
Brea Olinda Unified
Trustees for the Brea Olinda Unified School District voted unanimously on July 25 to place its own facilities bond measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. District officials say the measure, which also requires a passage rate of 55 percent, would generate approximately $148 million to address school facility repairs, upgrades, safety improvements and 21st-century classroom modernization.
“Significant school repairs and upgrades are needed to bring Brea’s outdated schools up to current building and safety codes so our students can learn in safe and healthy classrooms,” said Brea Olinda Superintendent Brad Mason. “All of our students need upgraded learning environments to support up-to-date science, engineering and math instruction so they are better prepared for college, careers and the global market. This measure is vital so our students can compete and succeed in the 21st century.”
By law, facilities bond proceeds can only be spent on the construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation of school buildings. Other permitted uses include the furnishing of school facilities and leasing property for schools. Bond dollars cannot be spent on salaries or other operating expenses, and the passage of a bond measure requires the formation of a citizens’ oversight committee to review expenditures.