Schools in the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District are falling apart and the board of education is trying to find the funds to fix them.
One solution: a nearly $200 million facilities bond.
The board is considering a bond campaign for either the Nov. 2018 election or the March 2020 primary election to fix its campuses.
The PVPUSD Board of Education hired survey research firm TrueNorth Research to take a sample poll of Peninsula voters. They polled 733 likely voters in September to gauge public reaction to the possible bond measure and found that voters consider maintaining the quality of education to be among the most important issues facing the community. They also tested the pollers with different variables like a higher bond amount versus a lower amount.
“We see a lot of that in your community, that the support for this bond is very much contingent on what the price tag is,” said Tim McLarney, president of TNR. “So it would be important to make sure that the price tag stays within voters comfort zone.”
The plan has been significantly reduced from what was originally proposed — $348 million — in part to make it more palatable to voters and more feasible to pass. The plan is to modernize and repair current facilities with little to no new construction.
The pollers’ top priorities for the proposed project are to repair existing facilities and upgrade classrooms, labs and facilities to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and to prepare students for college and careers.
One thing the firm and district staff stressed is the need to build awareness of the state the facilities are in.
“It sounds like it’s necessary here that there has to be an education in the community about the state of the facilities,” said board member Barbara Lucky. “Our schools look great when you drive by them. The paint isn’t peeling on most of them, and if the paint’s peeling it’s inside the courtyard or something and you don’t see that.”
While the board has not voted to authorize a bond campaign of any kind yet, it hopes to have the measure on the ballot for November at the earliest, but will likely have to wait until 2020 to get the proper support for the ballot measure.
“I do not like the idea of waiting until March 2020,” said board President Anthony Collatos. “We are running out of money, our buildings are falling apart.
“And for those folks that are not in support of this, I sure hope we can work with our community members to help figure out how we can do this because whether you just don’t like me or don’t think we do a good job of handling money, or you are just against taxes, the bottom line is you live in the community. You have children and grandchildren and your property value is affected by the quality of your schools and they are falling apart.”
All 18 schools in the district need significant repairs, with Peninsula High needing the most, over $21 million total, and Valmonte-Sunrise Early Learning Academy needing the least, nearly $2 million total, according to the Facilities Master Plan. The totals combine immediate repairs, replacement reserves for maintenance, needed capital projects and long-term items.