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San Diego Unified School District prioritizes security projects in massive spending plan

Posted at 10:27 AM, Dec 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-05 13:27:18-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The San Diego Unified School District’s board unanimously approved a long-term plan Tuesday night to prioritize the spending of billions of dollars in voter-approved bond money.

In November, voters approved Measure YY, which gave $3.5 billion for the school district to use in several improvement projects. When coupled with money green-lighted from measures S and Z, passed in previous years, the school district is looking at nearly $8.4 billion for its schools and students.

Money from Measure YY, coupled with money left over from measures S and Z, gives the district about $6.45-billion left to prioritize, according to SDUSD spokesman Samer Naji.

The plan approved by board members is a rough blueprint for prioritizing projects. In light of recent school shootings around the country, the district first wants to turn their attention to school safety projects, like adding perimeter fencing to campuses, security cameras, and emergency communication systems.

“It's around $250 million,” Naji said. “It’s a substantial investment in school security; that’s our biggest priority, that's what we're going to do first.”

Their next priority is to address the high lead levels in the water that have been an issue in several schools. Tackling the health concern is expected to cost about $45 million.

A big chunk of the money will go towards capital improvement projects. The district wants to renovate several campuses and equip them with new technology and new classroom designs.

Renderings of the so-called “classrooms of the future” look more like a coffee shop than a traditional classroom. So-called “collaboration spaces” are the focal point of the new classrooms.

“We want students to have opportunities to work together to explore group activities,” Naji said. "We don't want schools where students sit on a desk and work by themselves. We want them to learn the skills of the future for jobs of the future and collaboration, that’s what it’s all about.”

A timeline and which schools will see contraction first will become more evident as the district finds the right contractors.

The first school security-related project is expected to happen in the summer of 2019.