Bond to bridge gap
BALLOT MEASURE WILL RAISE FUNDS TO IMPROVE INFRASTRUCTURE OF IRVINE SCHOOLS.
In recent weeks, parents, real estate sales professionals, residents of the Great Park Neighbor-hoods and interested locals have seen a preview presentation of what the new Beacon Park School will offer incoming students when it opens in August. Incorporating state-of-the-art design and technology, optimal architecture for education and a refreshing dash of fun and whimsy, the new school looks to be a fine addition to the Irvine Unified School District.
But the school’s innovations also serve to highlight the fact that the oldest schools in Irvine are not up to the standard being set in Great Park Neighborhoods schools, as well as more recent Irvine school construction. More than half of the IUSD’s 38 schools are more than 30 years old and in need of repair, school officials say.
The IUSD Board of Education has a plan to help alleviate that divide. In early March, the board voted unanimously to place a bond measure on the June 7, 2016 ballot. Designed to raise from $251 million to $319 million, the funds would go toward infrastructure improvements such as roof replacements and upgraded heating and cooling, as well as new science labs, new and/or improved art and music classrooms, and equipment and technology for improved student learning in core subjects like reading and science, technology, engineering and math.
None of the money can go toward salaries or benefits for teachers, administrators or staff, district officials confirm.
“IUSD is proud that our students continue to perform among the best in Orange County and in the state,” said IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker in a letter to the community posted at IUSD.org. “We are fortunate to have outstanding teachers, challenging and innovative academic programs and a community that supports Irvine students and schools. These are all essential elements of maintaining the top quality education for which Irvine is known. If passed, a School Facilities Improvement Measure would help support outstanding student achievement by ensuring students have equal access to facilities that support 21st- century education and career opportunities.”
Not all Irvine residents will see the measure on their June ballots. The IUSD adopted a School Facilities Improvement District at the March meeting that includes 10-mile strip between Northwood High School and Bonita Canyon Elementary School in Turtle Rock.
Only registered voters within the facilities improvement district will vote on the measure. If passed by at least 55 percent of those voters, property owners in the zone would pay $29 per $100,000 of their property’s as- sessed value per year for 30 years.
Property owners in newer neighborhoods, such as Beacon Park and Portola Springs, aren’t included in the improvement district, as they already pay a tax to build schools in those areas. That tax is more than what owners in the improvement district will pay, according to IUSD. For a complete list of schools affected, go to newsflash.iusd.org.
How will long-time owners in older neighborhoods view the issue, especially those whose own children no longer attend IUSD? Voting to tax one’s self for the greater good of other people’s children may be a challenge for some. In future issues, we will feature opinions and voices of people on both sides of the bond issue. Email us at letters@ irvinecitynews.com with your comments.