With the recent passage of a $7-billion school bond measure to modernize campuses in California’s largest school system, voters in Los Angeles sent a clear signal that citizens are in support of funding essential construction projects that upgrade aging infrastructure and create local jobs.
Los Angeles Unified School District Measure RR, known as the School Upgrades and Safety Measure, passed overwhelmingly, never having less than 70% of voter approval as election results were tallied. As well as voter approval, the measure had support from labor groups and the L.A. Business Council because of the jobs it would create for the region. Cautioning that, “this is not the time to skimp on equipping local schools,” the Los Angeles Times “wholeheartedly” endorsed the measure, noting that, “this kind of bond typically fuels the construction industry.”
Courage California said Measure RR matters because it will “fund the desperately needed renovations for upgrading the 70% of Los Angeles public schools that were built over 50 years ago.” And “by funding upgrades to remove lead paint, asbestos, and water-quality hazards in these schools, Measure RR is expected to create 120,000 jobs. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a steady source of jobs over the next ten years will give a boost to the local Los Angeles economy.”
In addition to updating and replacing deteriorating facilities, Measure RR would pay for retrofitting buildings to withstand earthquakes and bring older buildings into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. A long list of projects includes seismic retrofits, roof replacements, asbestos removal, new fire alarms and air conditioners, and updated plumbing and electrical systems. Funds will also be used to construct new facilities and update classrooms and labs for 21st century learning. Money also could be used to pay for the district to implement COVID-19 facility safety standards, although officials hope that funding for this purpose will come from elsewhere.
District officials say the need to upgrade facilities is a matter of equity for the more than 600,000 students that LAUSD serves. Of the 750 school sites that the district operates, 77% are at least a half-century old and 13% are 100 years or older.
“We are grateful voters overwhelmingly supported this effort,” said LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner. “The students are the real winners … this victory is theirs. Because of voter support, and the support of labor, business and community leaders, more students will get access to safe and updated schools and learning technology.”
Measure RR is estimated to generate $330 million annually until approximately 2055. On average, Measure RR would cost taxpayers about $22 per $100,000 of assessed — not market — property value, or close to $110 for a $500,000 home.