By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
Time and structure maintenance wait for no man. Or for a good economic state. Sue McCann, assistant superintendent of business to the Garden Grove Unified School District, gave a presentation on Dec. 1 about school district facilities issues, stating that many of the schools need basic infrastructure updates and modernization.
The idea proposed to the school board that night was to look into launching a general obligation bond issue.
“Right after the school board approved the recommendation of conducting a survey to gauge the interest of the community on passing a facilities bond, district staff starting meeting with the bond consultants to provide them with information so they can put a voter survey together,” said Sue McCann in a recent email correspondence.
“It will take a few weeks to put a decent survey together, interrupted by winter holidays, as the consultant has to study the Draft Needs Analysis of the district’s critical facilities needs, plus collect information from various district staff. The survey itself will take three or four days by the consultant, possibly in early February.”
McCann said that the consultant, George K. Baum and Company, will compile and analyze the data, and provide a recommendation to the Board sometime in the latter part of February 2010.
Because the bond is an agreement between the public and the state, the school district cannot move forward without consultation of the community. The survey would determine if there was the 55 percent support from the community needed and the remaining vote would be need to be a two-thirds approval from the school board.
The voter opinion survey will determine the interest level, potential bond structure, tax tolerance for the community.
“Depending on the priorities or interest established by the community voters, and the size (scale) of facilities modernization projects, repayment could be as minimal as 20 years or stretched out to 35 years, similar to a home mortgage or home equity loan,” said McCann.
According to the website www.buycalifoniabonds.com, which is linked through California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, a general obligation bond is making a loan to the state.
The website states, “The State uses your money to build schools, university buildings, hospitals, housing, roads, mass transit facilities, parks, water delivery systems and other projects. The bond you receive in return for your money is, in effect, an IOU – the State’s promise to repay the amount of money borrowed (the principal), plus interest, in a specified period of time. GO bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the State. The principal and interest on all GO bonds are paid out of the state’s general fund.”
The school district is potentially eligible for $216 million in state School Facilities Funds.
If the district applies for and receives the funds, the district must supply a local match of $144 million, which would be 40 percent of a match to the total estimated cost of $360 million. The money would be used for modernization.
Modernization includes repairs to roofing, plumbing updates, making buildings accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and even door and door hardware replacement. Education Code 17070.15(i), states that any modification of a permanent structure that is 25 years old or of a portable classroom that is at least 20 years old would qualify, or be eligible for classification of modernization.
Most of the schools in the district were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and Garden Grove High School was built in the 1920’s.
“All of our schools are over 25 years old [100 percent]; by June 2010, 54 [out of 65 sites] or over 80 percent of our schools will be more than 50 years old,” said McCann.
She also said the district’s Maintenance and Operations Department has been working with a facilities consultant and architect to compile a list of all the schools’ most critical infrastructure needs.
“The district would like to make improvements at all our schools. However, the limitation will be the amount of state grant funds available and local source of funding. State grant funds are determined by the number of students enrolled,” said McCann.