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School district to plan bond spending

Leaders to start search for architect to upgrade auditorium

Posted: August 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

Officials are set to discuss the first checks to be cut with the $60 million Measure E bond at the Newhall School District meeting Tuesday.

Upgrading technology districtwide and renovating the 73-year-old Newhall Auditorium, among other facilities, were top priorities, according to Marc Winger, superintendent of the Newhall School District.

“We’re in the process of finalizing it, but one of the first things we’re doing is upgrading to a fiber-optic backbone,” Winger said.

The meeting will offer board members a chance to review district planning for the first $20 million of the measure passed by voters in 2011.

The district will start its search for an architect for the auditorium upgrade once the spending plan is approved by the board, Winger said.

“Once the board approves issuance, meaning we have a plan to spend the S20 million — as soon as we issue it, (the money) comes to our bank within about three weeks,” Winger said.

The district plans to make the aging facility a modern one with a 300- to 350-seat capacity, depending on approvals.

Paying off the school’s debt is another big boon the money will provide, which will free up general fund spending for operations and also needed improvements it could not otherwise afford, Winger said.

By paying off $4 million in debt, the district will save about $400,000 per year in interest, Winger said.

Electrical-systems monitoring and energy-efficiency upgrades will also be cost a assumed by Measure E that will increase the school’s general funds in the long term, said board President Christy Smith.

“I’m also really excited about $10 million technology endowments,” Smith said. “It means we are setting aside $10 million, but in the short term, it allows us to upgrade the technology at every site. We’ll start by making sure everyone is at a level playing field.”

District administrators are currently in the process of checking their projected enrollments. Every student means critical funding dollars for the district, Winger said.

“What we’re trying to do right now is nail down every possible kid that we can for the enrollments,” Winger said. “The staffing ratios are critical, and we’re making very hard decisions about teachers.”

While the district’s planning has allowed reserves to maintain funding levels through the next school year, the budget situation could become troublesome for districts statewide in 2013-14 — even if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure passes, Winger added.

The tax measure’s failure would equate to a $2.4 million revenue cut to the school’s spending plan, which could necessitate increasing classroom ratios to 30 students per teacher in grades one, two and three, or laying off about 25 employees, he explained.

”We’re talking about really serious reductions,” Winger said.

psmith@the-signal.com

661-287-5526

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