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Survey Shows Support For $334 Million School Bond Measure

It’s the middle of summer but for the Beverly Hills Board of Education, there is no break. The future of the district rests in the hands of board members who are considering placing a $334 million bond measure on the November ballot.

But if the results of a recent survey are any indication, residents are ready to support the bond that would allow the school district to move forward with planning and current facilities projects.

“We owe to the kids to provide them with appropriate facilities, which requires constant investment,” said former school board member John Millan. “It’s very expensive to do school construction like with hospitals. They have higher standard requirements to be seismic resistant.”

Three weeks ago, four school board members agreed to hire  George K. Baum & Co. to conduct a survey interviewing registered voters within the district to determine if they favor a bond added to the Nov. 4 ballot.

The survey results show strong support for a small tax increase and overwhelming support for an extension of the existing tax.

“A bond is the only realistic way to address those important issues,” said board member Myra Lurie.

“Many parents have expressed their support and enthusiasm for a bond, particularly those from Horace Mann School.”

Millan said it’s important for the community to see the board vote unanimously for the bond. However, members are already displaying mixed reaction.

“We keep asking the community for money. Let’s not scare the community.  Let’s not start a panic in the community to pass a bond,” said Dr. Brian Goldberg, board member who was elected in November.

The poll surveyed 400 people to determine the community’s position on several issues.

One of the questions was, “Do you think the Beverly Hills Unified School District is moving in the right direction or do you feel things are on the wrong track?”  38 percent answered the school district is moving in the right direction, 33 percent answered wrong track, and 29 percent answered don’t know, no answer or refused.

An overall 79 percent of the people surveyed said they would vote yes to support a school bond measure which would extend the current tax rate not increase it, to make safety and security repairs, necessary seismic upgrades and construct school facilities in the district.

In 2001, voters agreed not to exceed $69.87 per $100,000 of their home’s assessed value. Currently, the tax rate has fallen $20 and is staying at $49.87.

In 2002, voters approved the Measure K bond for $90 million.  It was supplemented by state and City funds totaling $109 million. The money spent, went to building the Science, Technology Center at the high school and rebuilding the Beverly Vista Auditorium and classroom building at other district schools.

Superintendent Kari McVeigh said due to the lack of funding from Measure S approved in the 1990s, there was a $13 million deficit, which was rolled into Measure K.

“Measure K was completed on-time and under budget, so I am not sure why voters would be dissatisfied,” said McVeigh.

“I am pleased with the way Measure K was managed,” said school board Vice President Nooshin Meshkaty.

Lurie said besides the shortfall from Measure S, the cost of construction for Measure K improvements tremendously escalated due to Hurricane Katrina and demand from China.

The deadline to add the bond to the November ballot is Aug. 8.

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