Bond supporters say Planada Elementary School needs upgrades

03/19/2014 2:36 PM

03/19/2014 8:10 PM

Planada Elementary School was built in 1951 – and Jose Gonzalez believes it needs to be brought up to 21st-century learning standards.

Gonzalez, superintendent of the Planada School District, said the district is seeking $1.5 million from voters in June to accomplish the needed upgrades. The Measure O bond must receive 55 percent voter approval to qualify for Proposition 39 funding.

Daniel Chavez and Planada Elementary School go way back. He remembers attending the school as a kindergartner. He later became a teacher and was Planada Elementary’s principal from 1991 to 2007, when he concluded a 37-year educational career. He became a district trustee about four years ago.

Chavez remembers that the swamp cooler in Planada Elementary’s multipurpose room was taxed during Valley summers, and it was unbearable in there.

Backers of the bond measure want to renovate that multipurpose room and replace the room’s windows, which aren’t energy-efficient.

“We keep our schools up pretty good,” Chavez said. “I’m in support of the bond. We try to have some equity between the schools. The schools are the heart of our community and are used extensively.”

Gonzalez said Planada school facilities aren’t aligned to match the district’s high-quality instructional programs and help students be globally competitive when they exit the school system.

Measure O funds would be targeted to address technology issues along with retrofitting old Planada Elementary buildings. Gonzalez said the state will give the district $2.2 million in modernization funding in a 60 percent match.

Voters in the district have passed three bonds. The first measure, which was passed in 1993, sunsets in 2017; the second, passed in 2008, runs out in 2034; and the third issuance of bonds in 2009 finishes in 2049, Gonzalez said. The district still owes $2.7 million through 2049.

The bond comes to $22 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, Gonzalez said.

Chavez said teachers and staff members were surveyed about the school’s needs. To address all the needs identified would cost millions of dollars, he added.

Trustee Adrian Sanchez also supports the bond measure.

“It’s something that’s needed,” Sanchez said. “For high school and college, they (students) need to be prepared so they can march forward to the future. Hopefully the community will understand that. It’s up to us to pull together for the kids.”

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