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ELECTIONS: LOS ANGELES COUNTY & GLENDALE

After Bond Win, School Backers Set Upgrade Plans

June 05, 1997|GREG RIPPEE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

GLENDALE — The day after voters overwhelmingly approved Glendale's first school-bond measure in 33 years, administrators Wednesday were plunging into plans for the first phase of their $186-million effort to renovate and expand overcrowded school facilities.

Measure K, which received 74.1% of the vote Tuesday in the highest local election turnout in 16 years, will provide the 30,400-student Glendale Unified School District with $156 million for renovations and $30 million for building three new campuses.

Construction at one site, an elementary school in south Glendale, could begin as early as next year, and a currently closed middle school could be converted to a magnet high school as soon as the fall of 1998, Supt. James Brown said.

Two other elementary schools are expected to be renovated, and maybe even rebuilt, in the first three-year phase of the district's 10-year plan.

In addition, major work at cramped Crescenta Valley High School, which is to receive $22.2 million--the largest share of proceeds--could begin as early as next year.

As soon as funds are available--after the district's first $26-million bond sale late this summer or in early fall--workers will begin appearing at the 29 campuses to begin upgrading facilities, Brown said. Many are over half a century old and most need revamped air-conditioning and wiring systems in addition to plumbing and lighting renovations.

"I'm starting to think about all of the wonderful things we're going to be able to do," said Mary Boger, co-chairwoman of K for Kids, the grass-roots committee that campaigned for the bond measure.

Janis Hahn, a lead organizer for the group, said volunteers "encouraged, if not pummeled" residents to show up at the polls.

"It won because this is a community that values education," Boger added.

About 22.5% of registered voters appeared at the polls, according to preliminary figures supplied by the county registrar of voters.

In Glendale's municipal election two months ago, only 18.8% voted, said City Clerk Aileen B. Boyle, and in no local election since 1981 was the turnout as high as Tuesday's.

"They had a tremendous public relations campaign," Boyle said of Boger's group.

Mirroring successful bond-measure campaigns two months ago in Burbank and Los Angeles, Glendale school supporters offered voters detailed plans of where the funds would go and why, and set up an advisory committee to monitor expenditures. Over its 38-year term, the bond would cost the average homeowner $88.22 annually.

"It's not about teachers' salaries," said Jan McCreery, a computer-science teacher at Crescenta Valley High. "It's about the educational environment, the equipment we're using to educate the kids."

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Linda Evans, the dean of students at Crescenta Valley High, said the bond's passage is "a real statement to the kids, that the community cares about its schools."

Noting that Glendale passed its last school bond measure in 1964, Evans, whose 18-year-old son is a senior at Crescenta Valley, added: "To all of these kids in the district, it's never happened before. They've never seen the community support them like this."

Said Deputy Supt. Donald W. Empey, who attended the committee's post-election party, "I'm not surprised that Glendale voters are willing to go into debt for their children, because actually it's an investment that will make the community a better place to live."

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