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School District to Start Drafting Bond Ballot Language

The Alameda Unified School District Board of Trustees is moving forward on plans for a bond ballot measure in November. (File Photo)

The Alameda Unified School District Board of Trustees is moving forward on plans for a bond ballot measure in November. (File Photo)

The Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees is expected to give the go-ahead to staff on Tuesday night to start drafting language for a tax bond measure for the November 2014 ballot.

The resolution calls for ballot language that would ask voters to approve the issuance of general obligation bonds totaling not more than $179.5 million.

One of the factors driving AUSD to the ballot box this year is the maturation of bonds that were originally issued in 1982, and refinanced twice since then.

The paying-off of outstanding debt increases the district’s borrowing capacity for new bonds.

Bonds issued pursuant to a vote in 2004, Measure C, won’t be fully repaid until 2036; those two series of bonds have a combined balance owed, including scheduled principal and interest payments of roughly $170 million.

School bonds originally issued in 1989 are maturing this year.

School bonds originally issued in 1989 are maturing this year (blue bar).

The district is anchoring justification for the borrowing on the outcome of its facilities master plan effort.

In 2012, the district concluded that it had more than $90 million of necessary improvements across 17 campuses within Alameda.

Also on Tuesday, the board will consider a facilities master plan implementation plan that estimates a need for some $186 million to $197 million for technology, safety and security, and facility improvements, including as much as $38 million for seismically upgrading and modernizing the old Alameda High School building.

The district seems to be counting on support – in a community known for historic preservation – for renovating the old high school building to carry the measure. Total improvement costs for Alameda High School upgrades, including additional improvements and modernization, are estimated at as much as $98 million.

Gretchen Lipow, of Alameda Citizens Task Force, told Action Alameda News, “Our brief survey supported a bond strictly for Alameda High School Renovations. Our dealings with the public around the Crown Beach campaign revealed strong negative reactions to supporting a super bond such as the one presently on the drawing board.”

The school district faced a backlash in 2012, when it made a move to purchase an office building in Marina Village, to which it had relocated its administrative offices. That effort began shortly after Alameda voters approved a separate parcel tax, in 2011, sold to residents as a way to keep high quality teachers.

Tuesday night’s meeting, in the Alameda High School Cafeteria, at the corner of Walnut Street and Central Avenue, is open to the public.

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