S.F. schools hoping voters open wallets

Since 2003, San Francisco’s public school district has received $745 million in voter-approved bond funding for facility upgrades. Now, school board members are considering going back to voters for another $531 million for additional improvements.

The tax dollars would be targeted to approximately 75 facilities that San Francisco Unified School District officials say require renovation, modernization and repair work.

The district estimates the improvements would cost $896 million, “in today’s dollars,” according to a 10-year plan. The funding would keep buildings up to standards required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, improve technology and maintain facilities through 2019, according to the plan.

The $531 million amount would be requested in two separate bond authorizations, the first in 2011, according to the document, which was put before the Board of Education on Tuesday for approval.

The nearly $900 million price tag was questioned by board member Sandra Lee Fewer, who requested that the board have further discussions about the plan before voting to approve it. The board agreed to move the vote to December, although board member Norman Yee said the numbers were pretty consistent with what he had seen in past capital plans.

In 2003, voters approved a $295 million bond for the school district to modernize 30 campuses. The district went back to voters in 2006, asking for money for projects at 59 more sites, and they gave it another $450 million.

Improvements at the 89 sites, according to the district, include replacing worn-out and aging plumbing, electrical, heating and ventilation systems; renovating outdated classrooms and other facilities; and building new facilities, including the John McLaren Childhood Development Center.

Additionally, $37 million was set aside for green projects, a magnet high school and for the district’s School of the Arts.

In addition to keeping up with natural wear and tear, the 10-year plan also seeks to replace more than 250 portable classrooms with actual buildings and accommodate increasing kindergarten class sizes by building more classrooms, which, according to fire codes, must be built on ground levels.

School facility bonds, under state law, can only be used for capital improvements, Chief Facilities Officer David Goldin said.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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