San Diego Unified District
Demolition of classroom buildings at Pacific Beach Middle School are among the facility improvements in San Diego Unified's bond program.

San Diego district bond update: $2 billion spent, $6.4 billion to go

July 12, 2019
Projects included in the 3 bond requests approved since 2008 include new school buildings, security enhancements, air conditioning, and solar panel installations.

The San Diego Unified School District says it has spent about $2.2 billion of the $8.4 billion that voters have approved for bond projects since 2008.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the district's goal for its bond program is to improve the poor overall condition of its education facilities.

San Diego Unified's current facilities condition index is considered  “poor” by industry standards. District officials hope to reach a “fair” condition, or 10 percent, by 2024.

Improving the facilities condition index number is difficult because buildings deteriorate every year, says Andy Berg, member of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, which monitors the district’s bond programs.

San Diego voters have approved three large bond requests in the last decade—a $2.1 billion bond program in 2008, a $2.8 billion program in 2012, and a $3.5 billion in 2018..”

To date, the district has spent $53 million from its bond programs on school security renovations, which include adding perimeter fences, isolating school access to a single entry point and installing emergency communication devices such as intercoms and mobile notification systems.

The district plans to spend another $250 million on school security over the next five years, says Lee Dulgeroff, chief facilities planning and construction officer.

Bond money has also been earmarked for lowering lead levels in drinking water.

As of April, 2,467 water outlets were tested and 93 percent of them were found to have lead levels below 5 parts per billion, which is San Diego Unified’s drinking water standard and the federal standard for bottled water. The required standard for school drinking water is 15 parts per billion.

The district says it has fixed 325 water outlets to be below 5 parts per billion. The district is still working on testing the rest of its drinking water outlets, of which there are about 7,200.

The district also is working to to install air conditioning in every school and classroom. To date, more than 100 schools have had air conditioning installed, according to Dulgeroff. Twenty-three are under construction, and 17 are in the design phase, Dulgeroff said. Schools that are further inland received air conditioning first.

Bond money is also paying for new laptop computers. Next school year, the district will add 37,000 new Chromebooks for students and 1,200 devices for teachers.

Thirty-three major building projects are in progress, and 138 projects have been completed since the 2008 bond proposal. That includes 80 new classroom buildings and 25 facilities for career and technical education.

The district has also removed or replaced 626 portable classroom buildings. The district still has more than 2,000 portables, down from about 3,200, Dulgeroff says.

San Diego Unified set a goal to consume zero net energy by 2030 and is using bond money to install solar panels. Solar panels have been installed at eight schools, which produce 6.9 million kilowatts a year and save the district $1.4 million a year in utilities.

The district’s plan is to build enough solar panels to produce 25.5 million kilowatts a year by the end of 2020, which would offset 8,100 tons of carbon dioxide and save $4.5 million a year. The district says it has spent $70 million on solar panels to date.

The district is also building five joint-use sports fields in addition to the 83 it already has. The district builds joint-use fields and shares them with the city for recreation. The district plans to build 44 more fields.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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