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PARENT-LED GROUP ON QUEST FOR SCHOOLS.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Daily News Staff Writer

Although voters won't decide the fate of a $29 million school bond measure for two more months, proponents already are working for approval of the construction package.

Volunteers from the parent-led Classrooms for Lancaster Kids committee have sought endorsements and donations, sending letters and making phone calls in an all-out effort to get the measure passed.

``In the past, if a district showed need, and the state allocation board OK'd it, the state would pay 100 percent to build a school,'' said committee chairwoman Donita Winn. ``Now the rules have changed. You still have to show need, but the state will only pay 50 percent. The districts have to come up with 50 percent first. There's no other way to do it than a bond.''

After deliberating nearly two years, the school board decided in October to put the bond measure on the March 2 ballot.

District officials estimate that the owner of a house assessed at $100,000 would pay $26.56 annually for 25 years if the issue is approved by at least two-thirds of the voters.

The Lancaster district tried bond measures in 1989 and 1990, both of which fell short of the two-thirds majority.

The most recent successful bond measure was about 40 years ago, when nine schools were built to house 4,000 students. The district now has more than 13,000 students and 15 schools.

The bond measure would pay for about half the district's $62.75 million wish list of building projects, with the balance being financed by money included in a $9.2 billion state school bond measure approved in November.

Using the California Teachers Association office on Lancaster Boulevard, volunteers have been calling voters and parents since early December and will resume after the holiday break.

The committee has so far gotten endorsements from about 25 parents and business and community leaders. Donations, however, have been slow in coming, Winn said.

A kickoff rally is planned for 7 p.m. Jan. 14 at Jack Northrop Elementary School, 831 E. Ave. K-2.

``We will have as many as the endorsees as we can,'' Winn said. ``Each school will have banners. It's a big awareness thing.''

Committee volunteers also will encourage voter registration and absentee balloting and might do neighborhood canvassing. Winn said she will address community clubs and organizations about the bond.

``I found once people are informed, they seem receptive,'' she said. ``So I think educating the public will be our biggest thing. Once we do that, I have a lot of faith in people.''

The committee, made up of a core group of eight people, was formed in October and meets at least once a week.

Its treasurer is Christopher Keene, a Lancaster insurance agent who has worked as a district vendor and serves on the district's education foundation. He said he was approached by district officials to serve on the committee.

Keene said overcrowding and aging facilities are the main reasons to back the school bond.

``My wife went to Park View (School),'' he added. ``It was designed for 800 kids, and now they have 1,300. They need more schools.

``They need to make it a safer environment for people to work and for kids to learn. They need bathrooms that work and roofs that don't leak. There is not enough money from the state anymore.''

Keene said if the district does not pass a local bond, the state money will go to another district that is able to come up with its share.

Winn, a 10-year school volunteer who works part time at a medical office, was asked to head the committee. She has two children in the district.

``My girls have gotten a good education in the Lancaster School District,'' she said. ``The teachers and staff are absolutely wonderful. I really feel this is one way I could give back.''

DISTRICT WISH LIST

The Lancaster School District has included the following projects on its wish list if voters approve a $29 million bond issue March 2:

Building Amargosa Creek Middle School at 27th Street West and Avenue J.

Building permanent campuses for Lancaster and Jack Northrop elementary schools.

Building a new elementary school at 22nd Street West and Avenue K-4.

Converting Piute Middle School into an elementary school, and building a replacement middle school at 17th Street East and Kettering Street.

Modernizing Desert View, El Dorado, Linda Verde, Mariposa, Piute, Sierra and Sunnydale schools, each of which is more than 30 years old. Work would include strengthening them against earthquakes, replacing cabinets and carpeting, painting, adding insulation, upgrading utilities and installing soundproof and energy-efficient windows.

Renovating Joshua, Monte Vista, Lincoln and Nancy Cory schools, Park View Intermediate and New Vista Middle School. Those projects, which include installing new plumbing and carpeting, and adding more parking, would not receive matching funds from the state and would be borne entirely by the district.

CAPTION(S):

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BOX: DISTRICT WISH LIST (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 2, 1999
Words:831
Previous Article:JOSHUA SCHOOL LONG IN THE TOOTH AFTER 43 YEARS.
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