Merced City School board to vote on $60 million school bond for June ballot

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 24, 2014 

— School board members are expected to vote tonight on a proposal to conduct a June bond election to upgrade 17 elementary and middle school campuses in Merced.

The Merced City School District Board of Education meets at 7 p.m. today at Don Stowell Elementary School, 211 E. 11th St., and the main item of business on the agenda is a recommendation to seek a $60 million bond on the June 3 election ballot.

Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran is recommending approval of the bond, the outgrowth of a long-range facilities master plan that’s been in development for more than a year. The plan shows $119 million in high-priority improvements for safety and to accommodate modern technology.

“We desperately need these renovations to our schools,” Duran said. “With new technology we need to make sure we have things ready for them (students) and we haven’t been able to do them for the last few years.”

Board member Gene Stamm said Monday he supports seeking the bond.

“There’s a great need for the things we are asking for,” Stamm said. “It’s not something any board member takes lightly. The need is so great. It’s for every school in the district.”

Greg Spicer, associate superintendent for administrative services, said the bond will be helpful in letting the district offer 21st-century learning opportunities. He’s not sure what state funds will be available and has learned the state won’t offer a general obligation school bond before 2016.

There will be future state income sources to finance modernization and safety upgrades, Spicer believes, but how these materialize may depend on the state economy.

Board member Adam Cox supports the bond measure and said the board has been talking about facilities needs for a long time.

“There has got to be some way for us to make repairs to our schools,” Cox said. “The bond is probably the best option at this point.”

Board member Susan Walsh wouldn’t disclose how she plans to vote on the bond authorization.

“The children of Merced deserve a 21st-century education,” Walsh said. “We need to figure out how to provide it for them.”

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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