August 1, 2008

Westside Seeks to Extend Tax Bond: Measure Would Raise $70 Million in 10 Years, Say District Officials.

By Karen Maeshiro

LANCASTER -- The Westside Union School District will ask voters to extend a school construction tax for 10 years to raise an additional $70 million on the November ballot.

Homeowners in the district would pay the same additional amount they already are billed -- about $29 on a house assessed at $100,000 -- but for a decade beyond 2026, when the current bond tax is set to expire.

"Currently, we are already three to five schools behind," trustee Gwen Farrell said Wednesday.

The measure will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot and will require 55 percent of the vote to pass.

The money from the bond extension will help pay for three more schools and other campus improvements, officials said.

The district has 11 schools and a student enrollment of about 9,000 children. Although growth has been flat, nine schools are overcrowded, with each holding between 900 and 1,200 students.

"We don't have any more room on campuses to add any more classrooms," Farrell said.

The proposed measure follows an unsuccessful attempt by the district in June 2006 to pass a $67.5 million bond.

The district won voter approval to extend the current tax once before. Voters narrowly passed an $8.5 million bond plan in 1989; in 1998 voters approved extending that school construction tax to 2026 to raise $14.7 million.

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