By Gloria Lloyd
Voters in Lindbergh Schools could consider a $105 million bond issue for a new Lindbergh High School if the Board of Education approved a recommendation from Superintendent Tony Lake, with the vote scheduled after the Call went to press.
Lake recommended the board approve “Proposition S,” a no-tax-rate-increase ballot measure, at a special workshop and meeting Tuesday. The election would be held Tuesday, April 2.
According to the language of the resolution that the board was set to consider, the board finds it “necessary” to borrow $105 million for “acquiring, constructing, improving, renovating, repairing, furnishing and equipping school sites, buildings and related facilities, including but not limited to (a) reconstructing and improving Lindbergh High School, (b) improving security and safety throughout the district, (c) refinancing existing leases and (d) acquiring real estate for school buildings and facilities?”
The district’s current debt-service tax rate would stay unchanged at 83 cents under the plan, but that tax would be extended another five years from a 20-year bond to a 25-year bond, Chief Financial Officer Joël Cracchiolo said at a Jan. 10 meeting of the new Lindbergh Finance Committee.
At that meeting, Cracchiolo outlined the plan for the money.
Besides $80 million in construction costs for the new LHS, the district would set aside $9 million for new furniture, technology and contingency; $8 million for architects; $3.1 million for safer front-entrance vestibules at all schools that don’t already have them and a districtwide visitor management system; and $750,000 for permits.
Construction could start as soon as 18 to 24 months after the passage of the bond and then potentially last three years, although it’s hard to say how long it would take, said Executive Director of Planning and Development Karl Guyer.
Three elementary schools currently have “safety vestibules” in which visitors off the street can step inside but not be fully let in to the school until they are vetted.
But the other three elementary schools — Long, Crestwood and Kennerly — and the two middle schools don’t have that space, which Lake sees as key to the safety and security of students.
“This isn’t just an overnight thing, we’ve been working on it for six months,” Cracchiolo said.
As the facility issues and aging infrastructure at Lindbergh High School became more apparent under former Superintendent Jim Simpson, Lake brought up the prospect of a future bond issue even before he started the job July 1.
He’s called it a generational decision that will impact future high-school attendees for decades to come.
“The high school has been the albatross,” Cracchiolo said, and the district has the chance to remake it as a “high school of the future” while also making it safer by converting it from its current California-campus style.
“We’re talking 10, 20, 50 years, so our grandkids we haven’t had yet will go there,” she noted.
The space will be converted to a more useful educational space for today’s styles of learning, said board Secretary Mike Shamia, who serves on the Finance Committee.
The district can issue the $105 million in bonds without a tax increase because its assessed valuation has gone up over the last three years, the CFO said.
The district can take on a maximum debt load of $125 million and only has $20 million outstanding, which brings district officials to the $105 million figure.