Measure LCF Could Deliver $149 Million to LCUSD

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Supporters of the La Cañada Unified School District have been busy the past few weeks, making calls and knocking on doors in an attempt to drum up votes for Measure LCF, the proposed $149 million general obligation bond on the Nov. 7 ballot.
On Election Day, La Cañada Flintridge voters will choose three LCUSD Governing Board members and decide whether to approve the bond, which would fund improvements to the district’s four campuses. Each of the five board candidates supports the measure, as did 65% of prospective voters who responded to a survey conducted earlier this year. It needs 55% voter approval to pass.
“I’ve been a parent in the district now for nine years and I’ve seen the amazing students and teachers and administrators we have, and I’ve also seen the facilities that we’ve had, where sometimes things just break down,” said Josh Epstein, co-chair of the Yes on LCF campaign. “We simply spend our money on our students and our teachers and sometimes it’s easy to forget we need to put those students and teachers in facilities … that will provide a cutting-edge education.
“If we want to make capital improvements in our schools, that money is not going to come from the state,” Epstein added. “Without a bond, I don’t know that we can ever hope to make improvements in our schools in any meaningful way.”
According to information on the ballot, Measure LCF could be used to fund a variety of projects, ranging from roof repairs and plumbing installation to improved student safety and modernization of technology education facilities.
Some critics, such as Ted Brown, secretary of the Foothills Libertarian Party, suggest that the list of projects provided isn’t specific enough.
But according to Epstein, the list — which was cultivated by way of a yearlong Facility Master Planning process that included input from more than 350 stakeholders — is simply more comprehensive than what the district could hope to accomplish with $149 million. (The complete list is available at lcusd.net.)
“The list has more projects than we could possibly afford,” he said, adding that $149 million — which might, to some, seem excessive — will not go nearly as far as many would assume.
That’s especially because schools are required to be built to an especially high standard, LCUSD’s Chief Business and Operations Officer Mark Evans said.
“They are evacuation zones and house children, so the construction [requirements] have to be higher,” Evans said. “It’s sometimes also harder to modernize than to build something new, because you have to undo old things.”
In his argument against the bond on votersedge.org, a nonpartisan election guide, Brown asks whether a previous $25-million bond, passed in 2004, wasn’t enough to cover “leaky roofs.” He also compares bonds to drugs, suggesting voters decline the district “another fix.”
“I’m not in the business of convincing people that taxes are a good thing,” Epstein said, adding that he trusts the district to be transparent with how it would spend the funds. “But what are tax dollars for, if not for making these already great schools more fantastic? In La Cañada, we get to see our tax dollars really at work and paying off.”
According to recently released state assessment testing results, LCUSD ranked among the top three districts in the state, extending a years-long streak of top scores.
Epstein said that success is why those endorsing the bond extend beyond LCF, to include Congressman Adam Schiff, state Sen. Anthony Portantino, state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
“It’s nice to be able to point to those districts that have made it work, even in the most challenging of circumstances,” Epstein said.
Measure LCF supporters have made it a point to highlight the fact that taxpayers won’t experience an increased tax rate because the Measure LCF bonds would be issued only as old bonds are paid off over 30 years, extending the current tax rate of about $60 per $100,000 of assessed value of taxable real property within the district.
Evans said most of the questions he’s fielded about the bond relate to what individual residents will be paying, and whether senior citizens will be able to opt out, as they are with the $450 parcel tax.
The bond includes no option to opt-out, Evans tells them, but he also explains that the tax rate is based on the assessed value of a property and not it’s real value.
“For example, if somebody has been here for 30 years in a home that cost $100,000 or less [when they bought it], their assessed value grows only a couple of percentage points a year,” Evans said. “So maybe their assessed value is $250,000, compared with the house next door that sold last year with a $1.3 million current assessed value.”
As the discussion continues until Election Day, Epstein said he’s cautiously optimistic that the measure will pass.
“We aren’t running numbers or anything,” he said, “but it feels really positive right now. But it’s a guarded optimism, I’m hopeful that it’ll get the 55%, but we’re going to keep plugging away to make sure it happens.”

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