School district officials have decided to ask voters whether to raise taxes to build new schools and refurbish existing buildings.
The school board voted 4-1 to place a $15-million bond issue on the March 7 ballot. Trustee Richard Caldwell, a former superintendent of Paramount Unified, said he opposed the measure because of complaints he received from tax-weary voters.
"I'm supposed to represent the feelings of the electorate," Caldwell said. "The people I talked to are anti-bonds."
Officials are scrambling to provide more classrooms in response to a surge in enrollment in recent years. This year's enrollment is estimated at more than 14,300, about 700 students above last year's enrollment. Enrollment is expected to grow by an additional 2,000 students during the next six years, said Gene Hartline, the district's business manager.
Overcrowding contributed to a melee at Paramount High School last year, school officials said. The high school, originally built for 1,800 students, now houses about 3,100. Some elementary schools now have more portable classrooms than permanent rooms, Hartline said.
The proposed bond must be approved by two-thirds of the voters. Some of the money would be earmarked for two new elementary schools in the southern part of the district.
If approved, the bonds would add about $22 every year to homeowners' property taxes for the next 25 years. Hartline said a recent study indicated substantial support among the district's residents for new taxes, but some voters remain skeptical that new schools are needed.