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Poway Unified attempts first measure since infamous 'billion dollar bond' debacle

Poway Unified Measure P Rally
Posted at 6:58 PM, Jan 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-08 10:14:53-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Supporters of Poway Unified School District kicked off a campaign Tuesday night in support of Measure P on the March ballot, which would provide $448 million meant to be spent on facilities across the distict's 39 schools.

This is the first time PUSD has asked voters to approve a bond since the infamous "billion dollar bond", which many critics call a debacle which taxpayers will be on the hook for for decades.

“We have leaky roofs," Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps told 10News during an interview Tuesday. "We have rusty pipes. We have tile that’s falling apart. We have high schools that have sewage spilling up into the room.”

Phelps says a recent study commissioned by the district reported that 63% of the school campuses will be rated in "poor condition" by 2023. She also says a bond is the best option because the state of California does not provide money for facilities.

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“What most people don’t understand and realize is we don’t receive any funding from the state. And so we also are one of the lowest funded school districts in the county, so we do a lot with a lot less.”

Phelps says she understands why taxpayers may be hesitant to fund another bond measure. The last time the district approached voters, the bond was passed by 2011.

It was later revealed that because of the way the bond was financed, the $105 million loan would accrue $877 million in interest, meaning taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $1 billion. The bill for that will begin to be paid in 2023 and continue for 40 years.

Phelps points out that the entire leadership that approved "the billion dollar bond" has been replaced and that the new team has worked hard to repair Poway Unified's finances in recent years.

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She says the district is being transparent about how this measure will be funded and spent. She also points out that the plan has been endorsed by the San Diego Taxpayers Association.

Despite those reassurances, many residents within the district, which is the county's third largest and encompasses the city of Poway and large portions of Inland Northern San Diego, have expressed concern, saying they will not vote for Measure P. The district says polling conducted to gauge community support showed voters marginally in favor of the measure.