By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
No more lessons, no more books, no more . . . no, wait. Wrong season. It’s back to school, with classroom doors all across the Garden Grove Unified School District opening on Thursday, Sept. 9.
This year there are, as usual, students, a local educational bond set in motion and some hard changes as a result of the state’s budget situation.
Starting at 7 a.m., an estimated 47,869 students from kindergarten to grade 12 will take to sidewalks, bus routes, bike lanes, carpools, parent’s passenger seats and skateboards and begin the next round of 9 months worth of books, tests, projects and exams.
In the GGUSD there are 70 schools, with a staffing average of 29 students per teacher. This number is not standard in all classrooms, in some the ratios are lower.
Right now one of the biggest items of news for the school district is the progress with Measure A, the education bond passed in June.
Measure A was accepted by 63.8 percent of local voters on June 8, paving the way for a $250 million bond.
The purpose of Measure A is to sell bonds to the local public in order to pay for structural improvements, technology and infrastructure updates and remodeling for some of the district’s aging facilities.
Currently, part of the bond is being sold, according to Sue McCann, assistant superintendent of business at GGUSD.
“We’re ready to go,” said McCann.
For the bond issue, back to school means hard at work to get more wheels turning.
According to a press release from GGUSD Public Information Officer Alan Trudell, “The upcoming bond sale reflects a combination of tax-exempt bonds, $12.8 million, and Build America Bonds or BABs, $117.2 million.”
The BABs are a new financing tool from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.They are different from the traditional tax-exempt bond by providing state and local government entities with funding at lower borrowing costs.
The issuer receives a 35-percent rebate on each interest payment made. Measure A bonds are paid by an assessment on property taxes within the district of approximately $35 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. The County of Orange is responsible for levying the bond assessment and collecting the revenue on behalf of the district.
These preliminary movements that end eventually with the bond money coming to the school district will pay for improvements such as handicapped access to all classrooms and bathrooms, updating pipes, air ventilation, roofing, outlets in classrooms and underground infrastructure. To short list it, that is.
Plans for Measure A modernization projects have been filed with the state Office of Public School Construction and the Division of the State Architect.
Pending state approvals and funding, the bond projects are expected to begin next year.
Not all of this will happen overnight, and definitely not all over the course of the next school year. However, over the course of a few years, these improvements will continue to be part of the “back to school” shopping list for the district.
Even with the promise of improvements for the future, the all too current situation with the state budget looms over the GGUSD and most of the education in the state.
The state is looking down the barrel of $20 billion in deficit, without clear indications of where a solution will come from. For local education, this means cuts, as Sacramento fails to pass state budgets on the regular time schedule and carves into education spending.
In GGUSD, the school budget will be reviewed for acceptance on Sept. 7 and is facing an increase in expenditures with a serious decrease in revenue.