Measure A cash may aid school woes

Voters can help fix leaky roofs, 100-year-old buildings and other structural issues for schools if they approve $48.3 million worth of bonds for the Burlingame Elementary School District on Nov. 6.

Funds for Measure A would be used “to maintain excellent local schools, fix leaky, deteriorated roofs, improve fire safety, repair and upgrade classrooms, heating/ventilation systems for energy efficiency, and update science, computer and instructional technology,” according to the measure. The district’s Board of Trustees proposed the measure.

No work has been done on the district’s buildings since the last structural bond passed in 1996, said Superintendent Sonny Da Marto. Ages of the buildings range from 55 to nearly 100 years old, he said.

“The bathrooms are just deplorable, there is plumbing and air conditioning and heating that is really in bad shape,” Da Marto said.

Da Marto said he was worried this week because the roofs are so old they typically leak on the first rainy days of the school year. Lincoln Elementary School’s roof would be the first project tackled this summer if approved, he said.

The bonds would be sold in three phases over time and would be paid back with an estimated $30 for every $100,000 worth of assessed taxable property within the district.

Recent education measures have done well in Burlingame. In addition to the 1996 bond, voters approved a measure in 2003 by a 71.9 percent vote “to keep good teachers, maintain small class sizes, support reading programs and libraries.” That funding came from levying an annual tax of $76 per parcel per year and expires in June 2011.

Voters also passed a $64 per parcel per year tax in 1993 and extended it in 1997 with an additional $40 tax increase. That levy expired in June 2005.

Opponents to the measure do not want to see additional taxes levied for funds they say should have already been appropriated through general taxes. They also complain that the district has already been given plenty of money through past measures.

The district had $186,000 to spend on each class of 22.4 students, said the Libertarian Party of San Mateo County. After teachers’ salaries and benefits were paid, each classroom had $122,000 left that it could have spent on upgrades, the party said.

“It’s bad money management,” party treasurer David Peters said of the bonds. “It’s like living beyond your means on a credit card.”

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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