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School Bond Issue to Be Placed on Ballot : Education: Funds would lessen the time old facilities would be used for proposed Gabrielino High School, the city's first. But Alhambra district suit could overturn election that created the school.

November 28, 1993|NED BOYER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SAN GABRIEL — The San Gabriel Board of Education will place a $29.9-million bond measure before voters in the school district on April 12 to finance improvements to the proposed Gabrielino High School and two elementary schools.

Last March, a similar measure won only 46.6% of the vote, far short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass a local school bond.

The election would be moot, however, if the Alhambra Unified School District wins a legal battle to overturn an election in April, 1992, when San Gabriel first won the right to educate its high school students. Alhambra's lawsuit, scheduled to be heard in late January, alleges that the State Board of Education improperly excluded Alhambra voters. High school students from San Gabriel now go to school in the Alhambra school district.

San Gabriel plans to begin teaching ninth-graders in the fall of 1994. Alhambra will have responsibility for grades 10-12 for 1994-95, according to an agreement signed by both districts in June, the same month Alhambra filed its lawsuit.

Passage of the bond prior to state elections in June and November would help the district qualify sooner for state bond money earmarked for school improvements, said Asst. Superintendent Joseph B. Crawford. "It's like getting a ticket at the butcher shop," said Crawford. "We want the lowest number we can get."

If projects by other school districts deplete the $20-million state fund before San Gabriel's application is considered, parts of the San Gabriel plan would have to be deferred until more state bonds are approved.

The district plans to expand Jefferson Intermediate School, which will become Gabrielino High School, and make improvements at Madison and Roosevelt elementary schools.

The local bond was defeated last time, he said, because many voters thought the impact on property taxes "would be far greater than it actually was." The bonds would be repaid through property taxes over 25 years. The average property owner would pay about $50 a year for each $100,000 of a home's assessed value, Crawford said.

Homeowners who led the opposition to the previous bond measure said they will fight the district's latest attempt to raise the funds. They complain the high school would cause congestion and lower their property values.

"We intend to fight it again," said Grace Carlos, former chairwoman of Save Our Homes.

Crawford said some critics did not realize that defeat of the bond would not scuttle the high school, approved by a vote of 61% to 39% in April, 1992. Lack of bond money will merely prolong the need to use old buildings and portable classrooms, Crawford said.

The high school would be second only to the mission as a source of civic pride, Crawford said. "It's going to be the cultural and social center of this community."

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