San Luis Coastal puts $177 million measure on Nov. 4 ballot for campus upgrades

acornejo@thetribunenews.comJune 24, 2014 

Homeowners living in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District will be asked to approve a $177 million bond in November to help pay for facility upgrades at the district’s three high schools.

District trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to put the bond on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Trustee Chris Ungar submitted his vote of support by telephone because he was unable to attend the meeting. Trustee Kathryn Eisendrath Rogers was absent.

"I am completely in favor of this bond," said Ungar, who added that some facilities at the high schools were in "deplorable" condition.

If passed, the measure would cost property owners $49 per $100,000 of assessed valuation per year for up to 30 years. A school bond measure needs 55 percent voter approval to pass.

San Luis Obispo High School and Morro Bay High School have a shared laundry list of projects: repairing numerous classrooms if they are going to be used for more than two years, upgrading restrooms, fixing leaky roofs, updating fire alarms updated and renovating locker rooms.

“Many of the buildings at San Luis Obispo High School are 50 or 60 years old now,” said Ryan Pinkerton, assistant superintendent of business services. “It has become a part of life and what we have become accustomed to. It is time to do the upgrades.”

Each campus also has individual needs, district officials say.

San Luis Coastal is one of only two school districts in the county to not have existing bond debt, Pinkerton said. The other is the small school district of Pleasant Valley.

A $100 million bond, called Measure A, passed by voters 23 years ago, was used to upgrade the elementary and middle schools. It was paid off in 2001, he said.

The San Luis Coastal district includes the communities of San Luis Obispo, Los Osos, Morro Bay and Avila Beach. There are 15 schools — 10 elementary schools, two middle schools and three high schools — with 7,505 students enrolled districtwide.

A recent enrollment study compiled by Spectrum Management Solutions projects enrollment to grow slightly, about 400 students, over the next five years. “From a facility standpoint there is not a huge growth in enrollment in the near future that will require us to build a new school,” said Pinkerton. “We have room at our current schools.”

However, district officials say upgrades are necessary.

At Morro Bay High School a pool complex, a marine sciences facility and CIF-compliant renovated tennis courts are on the to-do list along with additional parking, a renovated outdoor student plaza, and a student center.

San Luis Obispo High School's list includes a new cafeteria and kitchen, an all-weather track, a student services center, a new science wing and renovation of the tech shops. Also on the list is a pool complex, a varsity baseball and softball stadium and a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) complex.

Pacific Beach High School, which offers an alternative education program for students at least 16 years old, is slated for updated science, technology, engineering and math classrooms and labs; security improvements such as improving site entrances; repair of deteriorating plumbing and sewer systems; and renovating restrooms, the library and school offices.

The district may seek additional funding for larger projects such as gyms, sports fields and performing arts facilities from public or nonprofit agencies. Grant funding will also be sought.

A citizen's oversight committee would also be created to oversee the bond spending should voters approve it. The school board will have a study session sometime this summer to further discuss how to prioritize the list of projects.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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