A new bond measure recently approved by the South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education, is on the November ballot, aiming to raise $98 million to fund improvements in South Pasadena’s schools.
The South Pasadena Unified School District (SPUSD), enrolling approximately 4,800 students within its five schools – three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school – has continuously provided a top-quality education, recently in the top five K-12 unified school districts in the state, according to the California Department of Education.
A facilities assessment completed by SPUSD a year ago showed the district’s capital needs for basic repairs of aging buildings and health and safety improvements. Proponents of the bond measure say aging buildings impair the district’s educational excellence by not satisfying the technological requirements of a 21st century education.
“Making those repairs will have a huge impact on the students and the community as a whole”, said Jean Zenas, co-chair for the “Yes for South Pas Schools” campaign. “In a city like South Pasadena known for its high quality schools, this measure will be one more way to keep our property values high and our community alive.”
Back in February, a polling process engaging voters of South Pasadena revealed 70 to 71 percent support for the bond measure, according to Julie Giulioni, president of the South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education.
“In California, our state does not provide any funds for capital improvement or for facilities,” Giulioni said. “If the district is in need for significant repair and new construction, it needs to go through the community by using the bonding process.”
The bond measure, known as the Measure SP, would raise up to $98 million, if approved, in bonds spent only on South Pasadena schools facilities. For residential and commercial owners, this measure will cost them $60 per $100,000 of the annual assessed value of their property.
“The asset value is very different from the market value, it is much lower,” Giulioni added. “The average home owner will pay about $250 more each year.”
Some of the improvements that will be made through this measure include replacing aging labs, classrooms and facilities to ensure a safe and accessible environment for students, replacing leaking roofs and electrical and air conditioning systems, and making access to school easier for students with disabilities, according to the “Yes for South Pas Schools” campaign website.
“This measure will create a much nicer environment for students to be in, bringing classrooms to the 21st century and creating a safe thriving school environment” Zenas added.
A few members of the community are opposed to the Measure SP, mostly because of “misinformation,” Zenas said. “People’s opinions are more geared toward a distrust of the administration because they think this measure will pay administrative salaries,” she said.
Opposing community members include Harry Gerst, a South Pasadena homeowner who argues the measure will be detrimental to property owners as they pay for the majority in terms of parcel tax and bonds. He adds that most of the parents whose kids go to South Pasadena schools are renters, therefore, they will not be affected financially by this measure.
Gerst also questions the district’s diligence saying “they have not done their work in terms of how much it will cost” and calls the measure “a blank check.”
Both Giuliani and Zenas organize events to educate people about the measure and the consequences it leads to for the South Pasadena community. For more information refer to the South Pasadena Unified School District website.
Sarah Soutoul is a journalism student at University of Southern California.