Bond would improve Lagunitas

10/24/2013

Lagunitas School District is asking voters to approve $5 million in bonds to bring aging classrooms and facilities up to 21st-century standards for the 300 students in kindergarten through grade eight on the district’s two adjoining campuses. The money will be used to modernize classrooms, build ramps to bring the school into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, invest in new technology, upgrade playgrounds, increase energy efficiency and replace outdated heating and air-conditioning systems. School officials say the campus may appear to be in good shape, but renovations are desperately needed. “We’ve gotten by on bailing wire and bubblegum,” said Bruce Abbott, the manager of the school’s facilities and budget. As they installed cabinets this week, workers found the walls were too weak to support the weight. Some roofs have started leaking, and the outdated boiler system responsible for heating the school broke down for two months last winter, so classrooms had to be warmed with portable electric heaters. Improving the school’s buildings “is an area that we have neglected as a district,” said Principal Laura Shain. “We’ve really done a wonderful job providing small class sizes and assistants and special programs. It’s time that we modernize our facilities to reflect the care we feel toward our children.” The last major renovations were completed in 1995, when voters approved $2.6 million in bonds to complete the construction of six classrooms in the Lagunitas Middle School complex and a multiuse room on the San Geronimo campus and fund other improvements. “The environment that a student is in speaks to how the adults value them,” Ms. Shain said. Passing the measure “shows that they are our priority, that we really recognize the time and energy we are asking of them, and that we respect them.” General obligation bonds are typically repaid over 25 to 30 years with a tax on property in the district, estimated for this measure to be $30 per $100,000 of assessed valuation annually. An independent oversight committee will monitor the use of the funds. The bond money cannot be taken by the state government and cannot be used to pay teacher or administrator salaries. Supervisor Steve Kinsey and all five members of the Board of Trustees have endorsed the measure. Its passage requires 55 percent of votes.