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Calabasas | Valley Focus

Schools May Turn to Voters for Aid

September 04, 1996|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

Undaunted by the failure of two local tax initiatives a few years ago, Las Virgenes Unified School District officials are studying their facility needs in anticipation of going to the voters again for funding.

District Supt. John F. Fitzpatrick said overcrowded campuses and ever-increasing enrollment make a local bond issue almost a necessity.

"Facility-wise, we need to do something," Fitzpatrick said. "We're kind of pushing at the seams now. We have a lot of portables on our campuses, and a lot of older facilities."

He cited Arthur E. Wright Middle School, which houses more than 1,650 students on a campus designed for 700, and the Agoura Hills site shared by Lindero Canyon Middle School and Yerba Buena Elementary School, with more than 1,800 students this year.

Officials hope to determine the full extent of the district's needs in coming months, and by December to send the idea to the school board for approval.

Board member Barbara Bowman Fagelson said it remains to be seen whether a bond would be approved. "Once the first part [needs assessment] is done and we know what the needs are and how much it would cost, that will determine whether we vote to put it on the ballot and go forward," she said.

The district has a spotty record for persuading voters to tax themselves to fund schools. Although bond measures have not had a difficult time at the polls, two parcel tax initiatives were narrowly defeated at the polls in recent years, Fagelson said.

If the bond moves forward, Fitzpatrick said, it would be put on a special election ballot in March or June. And it would be marketed as one that would benefit all 13 district schools.

"We want to focus on each site so that the community and the parents that live in the area really know that the fund will benefit their school," Fitzpatrick said.

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