Leaky roofs, seismically unsafe buildings, antiquated electrical systems, and 80-year-old classrooms and offices: These are just a few of the infrastructural problems that currently plague several Paso Robles school campuses, according to the Paso Robles Unified School District (PRUSD).
A district-wide review of school facilities this year yielded that evaluation—and a proposed solution: a $95 million bond measure to go on the November ballot that would fund an extensive revamping of many district campuses.
On Aug. 2, the PRUSD board of trustees voted to make the bond measure official.
“We’ve been working on a facility master plan for almost an entire year,” said Chris Williams, PRUSD’s third-year superintendent. “We want our facilities to support a world-class education. The implementation of the plan is crucial in providing the basic necessities that our students, staff, parents, and community expect.”
If approved by 55 percent of district voters, the bond would pay for the construction of 70 new classrooms across nine preschool, elementary, and middle school campuses. It would fund a lab dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) to every campus that needs one, as well as add career technical education facilities, school libraries, science labs, and multipurpose rooms to various district schools.
Bond funds are also needed to retrofit old buildings to meet modern seismic safety standards, and for other needed improvements like new plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems, and electrical systems that can support modern technology.
Glen Speck Academy of the Arts and Marie Bauer Preschool—two of the oldest schools in the district located across the street from one another—would see an almost complete reconstruction. The district says it plans to merge the two campuses onto the same lot, which means adding 30 new classrooms and removing Marie Bauer’s existing buildings.
Residents of PRUSD will decide on Election Day whether to open their wallets to the cause. If passed, the bond would add $49 for every $100,000 of assessed property value to property taxes. Williams said the district would sell bonds in three phases over nine years, to be paid back over 30 years. The first round of bonds would be sold for $27 million to subsidize the initial, highest priority projects.
“Based on the age of the schools, Marie Bauer [Preschool], Glen Speck [Academy of the Arts], Georgia Brown [Elementary], and Lewis [Middle School] are a few that need some major work done immediately,” Williams said.
The PRUSD’s last bond measure, Measure T, was passed in 2006 and brought $40 million of improvements to Paso Robles High School. The PRUSD will be paying off the Measure T bond until 2045.
Measure T generated twice the amount of money stipulated in the bond measure thanks to matching state grants—a feat Williams hopes to repeat with the new bond measure if it passes.
“If we’re able to get the matching funds [through grants], we’re going to be able to expedite the projects that need to be done in a more efficient timeline,” he said.