Pasadena School Board Board Hears Presentation on Proposed $850 Million Bond Measure Survey

Will schedule follow-up presentation and meetings; survey paints strong district-wide picture of support for $850 million measure in 2020 elections

Published : Friday, August 30, 2019 | 4:57 AM

John Fairbank, partner in FM3 Research, addresses members of the Pasadena Board of Education at its August 29, 2019 meeting.

Following a presentation of a community survey on a school bond measure for the March 2020 elections, the PUSD Board Thursday agreed to hear a followup presentation later this year, as it faces a November 21 date to prepare the proposed $850 million measure.

The measure, if approved by the Board, would be placed on either the March 2020 municipal ballot, or the November 2020 national ballot.

All signs point to a favorable response from the community, John Fairbank, partner in FM3 Research, told the Board Thursday. FM3 Research was hired early in the summer to prepare a community survey on the likelihood of the measure’s success.

“This is a very active and engaged community,” he said. Fairbank walked the board through several categories in the survey, and noted that nearly three-quarters of voters continue to believe that local school classrooms need repairs, a figure that remains unchanged since 2017.

Fairbank also reported to the Board that the bond measure has at least 55% support in each Trustee district, ranging from 75% in Kimberly Kenne’s district, to 67% in Scott Phelps’ district. In addition, Fairbank noted that those who acknowledged the “great” needs of the District were far more likely to vote for the bond measure.

At least one community speaker, during the public comments section of the meeting, said that he would be in favor of the bond measure and encouraged the board to move forward.

Scott Hardin, a parent volunteer at Don Benito Elementary, told the Board that the school is “worn out.”

“They need everything,” said Hardin, from new paint to the replacement of bungalows, to new energy, lighting and classroom technology.

As previously reported by Pasadena Now, the survey asked potential voters two forms of the same question: “Shall Pasadena Unified School District issue $850 million in Bonds, requiring annual independent financial audits, citizen’s oversight, and with all funds used for neighborhood schools?”

Since State law AB195 requires that bond measures include language regarding costs, voters were also asked: “Shall Pasadena Unified School District’s measure authorizing $850 million in bonds, at legal rates, levying 6¢ per $100 assessed valuation, raising approximately $85 million annually while bonds are outstanding, be adopted requiring annual independent audits, and citizens’ oversight?” Both wordings registered positively with voters, said the survey.

Board Kenne expressed some concern over the AB 195 wording, but Fairbank told her that the wording was approved by the District’s own bond council.

Kenne also noted that placing the ballot on the March ballot would be more expensive since the Board had no other measures, and would have to foot the election bill itself.

PUSD Board member Patrick Cahalan commented on the fact that Pasadena residents who had no children in the school district, were also in favor of the measure.

“This is a good sign,” he said. Cahalan noted that similar positions were held in all parts of the District. Critics of the bond measure had previously expressed concerns on social media that new residents and homeowners without children, particularly in Central Pasadena, had no stake in the district, and would not vote for a bond.

PUSD Chief Facilities Officer Nelson Cayabyab told the board that he has prepared a template for listing specific projects and goals for the possible new funding and that it would be ready in time for the next Board meeting, should the next presentation be scheduled then.

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