The Simi Valley Board of Education on Tuesday called for a special election in April to raise $35 million to rehabilitate deteriorating schools in the 27-campus district.
Voters will be asked to finance the repairs by approving a general obligation bond issue requiring them to pay an additional 5 cents in property tax for each $100 of assessed value. Simi Valley residents now pay 12 cents per $100 of assessed value.
At a news conference, Simi Valley School Supt. John Duncan described conditions that included leaking roofs at 21 of the district's schools, large cracks in the playground asphalt at some elementary schools and major problems with plumbing systems at several campuses in the district.
"I am not proud of how our schools look," Duncan said. "We have a desperate need to provide a comfortable, safe environment for our students and our staff. We feel with this proposal, we have a business investment the voters can't turn down."
1st in 20 Years
The measure, which is the first school bond vote to be held in Simi Valley in more than 20 years, will require approval of two-thirds of the voters.
Although it has been difficult for school districts to get school bond issues passed, Duncan expressed confidence that Simi Valley voters will approve the measure, saying it will add little to the average homeowner's tax bill.
The district plans to mount an intense campaign to get parents and district employees out to vote April 12.
With about 1,650 workers, the district is one of Simi Valley's largest employers. There are 18,800 students in the system, and Duncan estimated that about 50% of the city's adults either have children in school or attend adult classes.
A Common Practice
Before passage in 1978 of Proposition 13, local governments and school districts regularly went to the voters with bond issues designed to raise money through increases in property taxes.
Local jurisdictions lost the authority to raise money through general obligation bond elections under Prop. 13 but regained it last year, when the state's voters changed the state Constitution to allow that taxing right. So far, Simi Valley is one of very few districts that have taken advantage of the change in the law.
Duncan said the board decided to go ahead with a single-issue special election so the bond measure would not get lost during larger elections in June and November.