Proposition 1D makes room for public schools | SierraSun.com

Proposition 1D makes room for public schools

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

Massive state debt could make for better learning environments in California if Proposition 1D passes in November.

Prop 1D, the Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2006, calls for a $10.416 billion bond to fund building and renovations at public schools.

A number of administrators and teachers in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District are all for the proposition, noting that portable classrooms at the elementary schools are over-crowded and uncomfortable, but opponents of the legislation are concerned that what will amount to more than $20 billion in debt when its all paid off is an unwise choice.

“There are two things in that bond that we see that could help us,” said Director of Facilities John Britto. “Money set aside for over crowding ” specifically to replace portable classrooms and turn them into permanent construction on the campuses, and the other is what they are calling voc-tech funding for facilities to provide vocational education.”

Nearly all of the schools in the district have trailer-like portable classrooms, also called modulars. Some of them have proven useful for thinning out crowds within main campus buildings, but others are experiencing crowding problems of their own.

“Those modulars are horrible and I feel bad every time I visit them,” said Glenshire Elementary principal Kathleen Gauthier. “They are super hot in the summer time, and they are just not big enough. Our inside classrooms are so gorgeous and the modulars are just pathetic.”

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Glenshire Elementary has 16 modulars, 10 of which are used as classrooms for up to 28 students each. The modulars are taking up a large amount of space in the school’s parking lot, which Gauthier said is “desperately needed.”

At both Truckee Elementary and Kings Beach Elementary, portable classrooms are taking up space on the playground. At North Tahoe Middle and High School, the portables are on playing fields.

“Not only do you have a larger population using these facilities, but you are also losing playground and field space, and that would be something that we would like to see rectified,” Britto said.

Three school bond measures have been successful in the past eight years: Prop 1A in 1998 for $9.2 billion; Prop 47 in 2002 for $13.05 billion; and Prop 55 in 2004 for $12.3 billion.

If Proposition 1D passes, California voters will have borrowed $45 billion for education in less than a decade, and that’s exactly the reason some voters are opposing the legislation.

“At a time when the Governor and the Legislature are struggling to repay the $100,388,000,000 in previously approved debt, this bond would dig us much deeper into a financial hole,” said Thomas Hudson, Executive Director of the California Taxpayer Protection Committee, in a release.

There is also concern that school districts that receive funding from prop 1D would also have to put forth matching funds.

“In some cases you can pull funding from other sources, but until the regulations are finished, we don’t know what the benefits are for sure,” Britto said.

It is not known at this point whether the district would have enough money to match funds, but what’s for sure is that without state assistance, new building projects at school sites in Truckee and on the North Shore will be minimal.

“Everything in the facilities budget has pretty much been dedicated to a project of some sort,” Britto said. “And we have used up most of our eligibility for (other sources of) state funding.”