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San Diego school board puts $3.5 billion bond request on ballot

The November ballot question seeks funds to upgrade aging facilities, help eliminate lead from school drinking fountains, and improve technology.

Voters in the San Diego Unified School District will decide in November whether to approve a $3.5 billion bond package to improve school safety, technology and infrastructure.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the proposal is the largest bond request in the district’s history and the third in the last 10 years. 

According to the Safety and Learning in Our Schools, a coalition of parents, teachers and business leaders who are supporting the ballot question, the money would help the district upgrade aging classrooms and improve classroom technology, among other things.

Enhancing campus security and eliminating lead from drinking water were the driving forces behind the proposal, board members say.

Concerns about security have intensified following deadly school shootings in recent years.

“This is the first bond since Sandy Hook, since Parkland,” says Board President Kevin Beiser. “This bond is our response to the concerns of making our schools even more safe.”

The bond proposal addresses a variety of school safety needs, such as replacing smoke and heat detectors, building or repairing school fences, updating electrical systems to prevent fires, swapping out old security cameras and revamping the district’s “incredibly antiquated alarm system.”

Old windows would be replaced with double-pane, insulated glass that’s harder to break, more secure doors and locks would be installed.

Board member Richard Barrera says the bond funds would help the district go above the legal requirement for water safety and almost eliminate lead from all drinking water in the district.

“We found elevated levels in a few campuses and fixed them, but the board decided they wanted to go beyond that,” Barrera says. “We decided that there should be no outlet anywhere in our district that has lead exceeding the standard for even bottled water.”

Proposition Z, the district's most recent measure, passed in 2012. Totaling $2.8 billion, it provided money to repair deteriorating classrooms, libraries, wiring, plumbing, bathrooms and leaky roofs.

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