Voters to decide fate of SDUSD bond measure, five candidates

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Voters will have the final say Tuesday on the San Diego
Unified School District's proposed $2.8 billion bond measure while also
deciding who should serve in several seats on the district's Board of

District officials said the funds generated by the “San Diego
Neighborhood Schools Classroom Safety and Repair Measure of 2012,” or
Proposition Z, would allow for building repairs and renovations and technology

If approved, the bond measure would fund projects including asbestos and
mold removal; wiring, plumbing and roof repairs; and ongoing maintenance,
according to the district. It would also go toward improvements in disabled
access and upgraded fire alarms and security systems.

If Proposition Z fails, funding for the technology education program
would end, according to the district.

The proposed bond issue would add a maximum of $60 in taxes per $100,000
of assessed value of properties within the district's boundaries, according
to the district. The district would establish an oversight committee and
conventional financing would be used, not capital appreciation bonds.

Voters approved a $2.1 billion bond program in 2008.

Opponents argued the district had yet to spend the majority of the money
authorized under that bond, and should finish those projects before
increasing taxes again. The proposed bond issue also lacks safeguards against
balloon payments or high-interest financing, opponents contend, adding that
long-term financing is not appropriate for technology that would only be used
for a few years.

Voters will also decide whether university instructor Mark Powell should
replace Board of Education President John Lee Evans, a psychologist and
former teacher who represents sub-district A, which includes Clairemont and
Mira Mesa.

Evans said despite being hit with the worst budget crisis in a
generation, SDUSD has come a long way in four years. During his term, the
district spared 1,500 teachers from layoffs, cut millions in administration
costs and saw improvements in students' test scores, he said.

“We are beginning to reap the fruits of our reform efforts for the past
four years,” Evans said in a campaign statement. “People are beginning to
believe in public education again and this will be reflected in the school
board election results.”

Powell, who collected more votes than Evans in the June primary
election, said he could no longer stand by as education was being undermined by
misguided leadership and poor decisions.

Powell said he would work to restore trust by demanding financial
accountability, promote teacher effectiveness and restore parent confidence.

“In my 20 years in education, I've always been an advocate for parents,
teachers, administrators and the community,” Powell said in a campaign
video. “But, I've always based my decisions on what's best for the student.”

Board member Richard Barrera is running unopposed to represent south and
central San Diego's sub-district D.

Shelia Jackson, who represented the southeastern sub-district E for
eight years, opted not to seek reelection. Running to replace her are Marne
Foster and William Ponder.

Foster, a community college teacher and administrator, said she had
experience with the challenges of the school system. She said she would focus
on fixing problems and ensuring all students had a high-quality education
through leadership, communication and financial accountability.

Foster was endorsed by the San Diego Education Association and the San
Diego Democratic Party. She was easily the top vote-getter in the June primary

Ponder worked as a teacher and university administrator before retiring
and has written two books on education. Amid funding cuts and an increasingly
competitive global economy, schools needed leadership that can prompt positive
change for students, he said.

His campaign focused on educating students in a curriculum based on
global standards, transparency and accountability, student achievement and
community collaboration.

Ponder was endorsed by the San Diego Schools Police Officers Association
and San Diego City Council President Tony Young.

Categories: KUSI