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PALMDALE MAY PURSUE SCHOOL BOND DEMOGRAPHICS POINT TO NEED.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Staff Writer

PALMDALE - The Palmdale School District might join the ranks of Antelope Valley school districts that are considering or have already decided to place school construction bond measures before voters this year.

Trustees will consider today whether to pursue a bond in either the June or November election to help pay for building at least three more schools.

``The demographics show we are going to need three more schools, and so we are looking at having the state match whatever we can come up with,'' board President Sheldon Epstein said.

The board is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. at the district office, 39139 10th St. E.

No specific figures have been decided upon yet, but a district survey conducted in February of more than 500 registered voters indicated that 55 percent supported paying an annual tax of $23 per $100,000 assessed valuation.

Support declined to 50.1 percent for an annual tax of $26 per $100,000 assessed valuation, and to 42.4 percent for a tax rate of $30. A tax rate of $23 would yield about $75 million over 12 years, records show.

If Palmdale trustees approve going forward with a bond, the district would pass it under Proposition 39, which requires a 55 percent majority vote, rather than two-thirds of the vote.

Superintendent Jack Gyves said the district initially had been looking at placing a bond measure on the June ballot, ``but that prospect seems to be fading at this point. It's too much, too soon, too fast.''

Gyves also said part of the discussion will cover whether bond funds should be used to retire some of the district's long-term debt as well as build schools.

Four other school districts are thinking about or have decided to place bond measures before voters this year.

The Antelope Valley Union High School District will place a $177 million bond on the June ballot to expand and improve high schools and build two new ones that would annually cost property owners about $30 per $100,000 assessed valuation.

Westside Union School District trustees will consider today whether to call for a bond election in June in their district, where a survey found that 60 percent of Westside voters would support paying an annual tax of $27 to help pay for school construction.

Lancaster and Muroc Joint Unified School districts are also considering bonds elections in June.

If Lancaster, Palmdale and Westside pass bonds, property owners in those three districts would have to pay for the Antelope Valley Union High School District bond measure as well as their local elementary district bonds. The elementary school districts are within the high school district's boundary.

Palmdale last passed a $25 million bond under Proposition 39 in 2001. Proceeds from that bond paid for construction of Palmdale Learning Plaza and Golden Poppy schools.

In a board study session in February, Palmdale administrators presented information on the district's $28.7 million in outstanding certificate of participation debt.

The district pays between $2.5 million to $3 million a year from its general fund toward the debt, and staff has been looking at ways to either reduce or entirely eliminate that burden.

Options included selling district property, including the Pueblo Learning Center, refinancing or restructuring the debt, and a bond election to extend the current bond tax or pass a new bond.

According to minutes from the February meeting, staff told trustees that the district has funding available for about ``one and a half more construction projects with four in planning and 10 to 12 needed by the time the district is fully built out.''

Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744

karen.maeshiro(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 7, 2006
Words:615
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