When San Diego voters go to the polls in fall 2008 to elect a new president and other officials, they will likely be asked to approve up to $1.5 billion in new borrowing to finance construction work at the city’s school system.

Though the San Diego Unified District expects student enrollment to fall by about 8 percent over the next decade, the school system has identified nearly $3.7 billion worth of necessary capital projects, including almost $700 million in deferred maintenance.

Under a draft plan presented Tuesday, the district would borrow enough to pay for a fraction of the work. The proposal, financial adviser Mark Young told the school board, was designed to introduce “no new taxes” by making use of current fees being used to repay the $1.51 billion in bonds voters approved in 1998, as part of Proposition MM.

Asking voters to merely extend the Proposition MM property tax levels, instead of levying new fees, would make the bond proposal more palatable to the voters, Young said.

“I think the important thing is that we’re not proposing an increase in tax rates,” Chief Administrative Officer José Betancourt said.

The final details of the ballot measure will likely not be approved by the school board until next spring.


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