The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on the importance of good infrastructure in our schools. Quality air systems and other safety standards are now necessary as well as long-needed upgrades such as earthquake retrofitting and access for disabled people. RebuildSoCal Partnership encourages Southern Californians to vote “yes” on Measure RR, the School Upgrades and Safety Measure, to pay for modernization projects for Los Angeles Unified School District.
What is Measure RR?
The Board of Education of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) put this measure on the Nov. 3 ballot. Approving Measure RR would authorize the Board to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $7 billion.
Proceeds from the sale of the bonds shall be used only for the purposes specified in the Measure. This includes:
- Updating classrooms and labs for 21st Century learning: Furnishing facilities with an updated technology infrastructure and upgrading and acquiring communication and security systems.
- Implement COVID-19 facility safety standards: This includes installing or upgrading air quality systems as well as possibly constructing plexiglass separations or shaded outdoor classrooms.
- Updating facilities to make buildings accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Replace and/or renovate aging school classrooms and buildings: Reduce asbestos, earthquake and water quality hazards; install or replace gates, fencing, access control and plumbing systems; construct renewable energy and water systems.
Bond proceeds may not be expended on teacher and administrator salaries or other school operating expenses but may be used for the expansion of early childhood and adult education programs, new wellness clinics, cafeteria upgrades, and cleaner school buses.
Why vote ‘Yes’?
LAUSD is the second largest K-12 system in the United States with 750 school sites in operation and currently serving more than 600,000 students. Hundreds of school buildings — a full 77% of them — are more than 50 years old and nearly 100 schools date back at least 100 years. While there is a learning divide due to antiquated technology, there’s also a daily safety issue for thousands of students, faculty and staff when numerous schools need critical infrastructure attention such as roof repairs and earthquake retrofitting.
Measure RR requires a 55% voter approval to pass and would not increase taxes but instead continue the tax rate that homeowners currently pay. This is approximately $22 for every $100,000 of assessed value on homes, through about 2055.
To move the economy forward, it’s important to get people working. By making investments in infrastructure projects, it’s possible to create thousands of jobs for trades people throughout the region. LAUSD has more than $50 billion in unfunded facilities needs. Because making buildings safe and ADA compliant is necessary, if the measure does not pass, the district may be forced to make cuts to staff and faculty to pay for what’s required and make ends meet. This is one more blow that no educator wants to have to face as they do everything they can to continue teaching through the challenges posed by the pandemic.
There will be a day when kids will be back in classrooms. We need to prepare for the future and LAUSD students deserve modernized educational facilities. While Measure RR won’t fix every infrastructure issue, it’s a vital step toward making important improvements.
RebuildSoCal Partnership wholeheartedly endorses Measure RR and encourages you to vote “YES.”