LAUSD Asks Voters to Approve $7B Bond

LOS ANGELES -- A $7 billion bond that Los Angeles Unified School District officials claim will create smaller, less-crowded schools and help finance charter schools will go before voters on Tuesday.

Measure Q includes $1.6 billion for the creation of small schools, $2.68 billion for school safety measures, $500 million for environmental improvements at schools and $450 million for charter school construction.

Voters have approved four LAUSD bond measures since 1997 totaling about $13 billion. That money allowed the school district to build 72 schools and complete 16,500 "modernization" projects. The bonds, financed through property taxes, will need the approval of 55 percent of voters to pass.

"We have a bold and optimistic vision for LAUSD that includes the $7 billion bond proposal for November,"school board president Monica Garcia said earlier this year when the LAUSD Board voted to place the measure on the ballot.

"We will continue to work with stakeholders, teachers, parents and advocates to build the school district our students deserve."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa supports the bond.

"This bond isn't about slapping another coat of paint on the problem. It's about fundamentally transforming our district into small, safe and independent schools," Villaraigosa said.

Opponents of the bond argue the four previous measures have provided the school district with more than enough money to transform Los Angeles schools.

"This is their fifth bond in 11 years. Counting the local contributions and what has come from the state, they have received $19 billion for their building fund. They're asking for another $7 billion on top of that," said Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Homeowners are currently paying $185 per $100,000 of assessed value on their home. The proposed bonds in Measure Q technically cost about $2.42 a month per $100,000 of assessed value -- but homeowners actually would not see any increase in their tax bills, district officials said. If approved, property owners would continue paying the same rate for LAUSD bonds, but they would pay that amount for an additional six years.

That means a person who owns a house valued at $300,000, would continue to pay $555 a year for the LAUSD bonds.

"We think this is absolutely the wrong time to be raising taxes," Vosburgh said.

"They still have money in the pipeline from previous bonds and they're just trying to take advantage of what consultants have told them is a good time to get a tax increase measure passed."

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