San Francisco's final schools bond targets buildings 

click to enlarge Aging infrastructure: Phil Halperin of the San Francisco School Alliance says limited state funding has led to years of neglect for school buildings. (Examiner file photo) - AGING INFRASTRUCTURE: PHIL HALPERIN OF THE SAN FRANCISCO SCHOOL ALLIANCE SAYS LIMITED STATE FUNDING HAS LED TO YEARS OF NEGLECT FOR SCHOOL BUILDINGS. (EXAMINER FILE PHOTO)
  • Aging infrastructure: Phil Halperin of the San Francisco School Alliance says limited state funding has led to years of neglect for school buildings. (Examiner file photo)
  • Aging infrastructure: Phil Halperin of the San Francisco School Alliance says limited state funding has led to years of neglect for school buildings. (Examiner file photo)

The San Francisco Unified School District is asking voters to approve a $531 million bond measure to shore up dozens of aging school buildings.

Proposition A, placed on the November ballot at the Board of Education’s request, is the third — and, school officials say, final — in a series of bond measures designed to bring infrastructure in line with health, safety and accessibility regulations.

“I would argue that this is the most successful capital project in the city and county of San Francisco,” said Phil Halperin, co-chair of the San Francisco School Alliance, a nonprofit that supports the SFUSD.

Halperin said limited state funding has led to years of neglect. Some buildings would be unsafe in an earthquake, others contain hazardous materials and still more are not accessible for the disabled. Many schools are coping with outdated electrical, heating, water, security and fire sprinkler systems.

Two-thirds of the district’s buildings were repaired — or will be this year — using $745 million from two previous bond measures, passed by voters in 2003 and 2006. If the new bond passes, the money will help the district modernize the rest of its buildings.

School officials said the $531 million would be borrowed at an interest rate of less than 3 percent over 20 years. According to City Controller Ben Rosenfield, that would result in average additional property taxes of $21.39 per $100,000 of assessed value between 2012 and 2036.

Though school officials argue the funds are needed, opponents say the district should not borrow money for what ought to be routine maintenance. In an argument against Prop. A published in the voter information pamphlet, the Libertarian Party of San Francisco accused the district of deferring maintenance in order to “blackmail voters into approving bond measures lest children be stuck in decrepit schools.”

acrawford@sfexaminer.com

Bond measure

Details of Prop. A on the November ballot:

  • $531M Amount SFUSD would borrow
  • 53 District buildings in need of repair
  • 2 New schools SFUSD would build with bond money
  • $145 Maximum additional property tax the owner of a $500,000 home could expect to pay annually if the measure passes

Source: Ballot Simplification Committee

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Amy Crawford

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