In response to strong public support for repairing aging schools, the Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education this week approved the placement of a $1.5 billion school repair and safety bond measure on the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot.
The ballot measure will require approval by at least 55 percent of voters who cast ballots on that day.
A recent phone survey showed that more than seven out of ten voters in the school district believe that LBUSD has a significant need for additional funding to modernize and improve campuses. Priority projects include health and safety-related repairs such as electrical upgrades to add energy-efficient air conditioning systems.
“This November, local voters will have an opportunity to decide whether LBUSD schools will receive needed improvements to meet 21st Century safety and environmental standards,” Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser said. “After years of reduced state funding for school facilities, we cannot wait any longer. We have a lot of work to do in schools that are 50, 60 and 70 years old."
In 2008, 71 percent of voters approved Measure K, which provided the school district with $1.2 billion for building new small high schools, removing outdated portables, and renovating or rebuilding old campuses. To date, nearly all of the funds available through Measure K have been spent or earmarked.
The school board approved an updated Facility Master Plan earlier this month. The plan was developed with extensive feedback from community surveys and meetings. An initial phone survey of 650 randomly selected voters was conducted last November, and a second poll was conducted earlier this month. About 2,000 community members also completed an online survey of school district priorities earlier this year.
Respondents in the online and phone surveys placed a high priority on issues such as retaining and attracting excellent teachers, retrofitting schools for earthquake safety and handicap accessibility, and upgrading campus security and communications systems.
Voters surveyed expressed support for upgrading physical education facilities to combat childhood obesity and to provide activities that keep youth off the streets and out of gangs.
In seven public meetings held at local high schools and at Avalon K-12 School, participants expressed similar interest in repairing, upgrading and improving aging campuses.
“We will be working to educate the public over the next few months about the resources needed to keep all our schools safe and conducive to learning,” Steinhauser said. “Then it will be up to voters to decide on November 8.”
The entire, newly updated Facility Master Plan includes a school-by-school project list and is available at www.lbschools.net, as is the Board of Education’s formal resolution calling for the election.