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Burbank Unified looks to move ahead with school bond

Citing volunteer limits, PTA and union believe measure should wait until 2013.

July 07, 2012|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com

Fifteen years after Burbank voters overwhelmingly passed a $112.5-million school bond, it appears they are ready for an encore.

A survey commissioned by Burbank Unified shows support for a proposed $110-million bond extension — which would fund major facility improvements — at 60%, comfortably above the 55% required.

The Burbank Teachers Assn. and the Burbank Council PTA officials have voiced their support.

Still, the timing of the measure remained undecided this week as school board members tabled a vote on whether to place it on the ballot for either the Nov. 6, Feb. 26, 2013, or April 9, 2013 election.

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As proposed, the $110-million bond extension would build on the 1997 bond, increasing by $5 the current tax rate of about $42 per $100,000 of assessed value per parcel. It would qualify Burbank Unified for more than $10 million in matching funds from the state, according to the district.

Bond dollars would be spent on upgrading classrooms and alarm systems, fixing deteriorating roofs and plumbing, and replacing aging portable buildings with new classrooms, among other things.

Woven into the debate of timing are questions about whether the district would be able to mobilize an effective campaign to see the bond through in November.

Burbank Council PTA President Barbara Miller said parents recognize the need for the bond extension, but that they would prefer to see it on the ballot next year. In the coming months their energy will be invested in the so-called Munger initiative, one of two tax hike options going before voters in November, she said.

“We anticipate that we would support the passage of the local bond; however, our volunteer time has already been committed to ‘Our Children, Our Future,'” Miller said, referring to the PTA-backed campaign in support of the Munger initiative. “We just don't feel like we can give them the same volunteer hours that we did in the 1997 campaign.”

Union President Lori Adams said teachers will be campaigning for Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, leaving them little time to advocate for the Burbank bond.

“If it is the spring, we will have every boot on the ground,” Adams said. “That is all our focus will be. We will get every teacher, every counselor, every PTA parent out.”

But the same survey results that show voter support at 60% for a November school bond measure are less encouraging for the spring.

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