HomeCommunity NewsSchool Board Takes Next Steps Towards 2020 Facilities Bond

School Board Takes Next Steps Towards 2020 Facilities Bond

Former San Marino School Board Member Jeanie Caldwell, top, and Superintendent Jeff Wilson, left, at a Town Hall meeting that was hosted by the SMUSD to explain the findings of a Facilities Advisory Committee that was chaired by Caldwell. The board voted 3-1 on Tuesday night to continue the process that could lead to a facilities modernization bond being placed before voters. Mitch Lehman Photo

The San Marino School Board on Tuesday evening directed Superintendent Dr. Jeff Wilson to present a resolution at its Tuesday, November 12 meeting that could lead to a possible facilities bond election in March 2020, pending approval by the board.

The school board voted 3-1 directing Wilson to further review the proposed project list that had been recommended by the Facilities Advisory Committee to provide more up-to-date cost projections and to ensure that the facilities projects are in line with the future direction of the district. Wilson will then return with a proposed bond amount that would not exceed $200 million.

Board member Chris Norgaard was excused from the meeting and Board Member Corey Barberie voted against the resolution while Board Members Shelley Ryan and Joseph Chang and Board President Lisa Link cast “yes” votes. A emailed statement from Norgaard was read before the vote, stating his support for a March election and a $200 million construction list.

Barberie suggested splitting the bonds, requesting a smaller number in 2020 and another figure in 2022.

Examples of PriorIty 1 items include permanent new classrooms (to replace outdated portables) at Huntington Middle School and both Carver and Valentine Elementary Schools, HVAC and lighting upgrades at all four school sites and a host of security improvements.

“Things that are needed to operate a top quality school district in the 21st century,” Wilson told The Tribune on Thursday afternoon.

Wilson also said he will work with an outside agent to evaluate priorities and would possibly include some projects that would support his vision for an innovative, top-performing school district.

For the possible bond to appear on the March 2020 ballot, the board will have to take action at the November 12 meeting—the last regularly scheduled board meeting before the December 5, 2019 deadline. Wilson said the board could call a special meeting to take a vote on the resolution, but felt it should be handled at a standard meeting, which typically take place on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.

“We are committed to doing this in an open and transparent way,” Wilson said.

Six community members spoke during the public comment section allotted for the agenda item, with four seeming to support a $200 million bond election in March and two who advised caution on the matter.

“Thank you for engaging the community in this monumental effort,” said Jane Chon, an SMUSD parent who was also a candidate in the November 2018 school board race. “Trust is being built.”

Chon explained how she has recently visited 30 college campuses across the country with her twin sons, who are seniors at San Marino High School.

“Why do we need new facilities? Chon asked, rhetorically. “If we want to stay the best, we need to spend money and we need to make sure our programming is reaching the whole student.”

Chon also mentioned that she feels the SMUSD is in competition for students with Pasadena Polytechnic, Sequoyah and Arcadia schools.

ASB Student Board Representative Grace Davis echoed Chon’s sentiment before casting her preference for the $200 million, March 2020 option.

“The competition is a reality,” said Davis, a senior at SMHS. “If you are interested in getting people who want to come to these schools, you have to create facilities that keep them engaged.”

To continue engagement and educate the community about the SMUSD’s facilities needs, the district will be offering tours of its facilities on Saturday, November 2, at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Please contact the SMUSD for more information.

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