SMUHSD divided over $186M bond for high schools

A $186 million bond measure that would be used to pay off debt and upgrade buildings in the San Mateo Union High School District is drawing opposition from some local leaders who say the district doesn’t need the money.

About 40 percent of the funding in Measure O would be used to retire $74 million in construction debt used to finance past projects.

It would also pay for building a new continuation high school to replace the current one at the former Crestmoor High School in San Bruno, which district officials say is outdated, and for other upgrades at the district’s six high school campuses.

Board President Dave Pine said getting rid of the debt will free up more than $1 million per year in the district’s general fund.

Opponents of Measure O contend the district should renovate Crestmoor rather than build a new school and work within the bond funding that voters have already approved: the $137 million bond Measure D in 2000 and the $298 million bond Measure M in 2006.

“I think they should learn to live within their means and manage their money better,” said Judith Puccini, a former 20-year district employee who opposes Measure O but supported Measure M. Among Measure O’s other critics are former San Bruno Mayor Larry Franzella and former San Bruno Council Member Tom Ricci.

Pine acknowledged the large dollar amounts but said most of the district’s decades-old high schools had not undergone major work until the district’s modernization project started.

“It is a large sum of money, but it’s spread across six high schools, all of which needed significant upgrades,” Pine said.

Meanwhile, the South San Francisco Unified School District is trying to pass Measure J, a $162 million bond measure that would fund upgrades like replacement classrooms and new energy-efficiency projects. It has no formal opposition and, such as Measure O, needs a 55 percent majority to pass.

sbishop@sfexaminer.com

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