A recent proposal for the school district to partner with the city on plans to build a nine-story main library hasn’t changed the San Diego County Taxpayers Association’s opposition to the building.

Association President Lani Lutar said the joint venture — which we’ve dubbed a schoobrary — doesn’t address the group’s initial problems with the downtown library. It only raises more questions, Lutar said.

Specifically, the San Diego Unified School District had been talking about building an elementary school with the $20 million set aside in Proposition S, which voters approved in November and the taxpayers association supported. Lutar said it begs the question: Does the district have any data showing an immediate need for a building for high school students?

“It seems like a convenient way for the school district to provide funding to close the gap on the library,” Lutar said today. “It’s unclear whether there’s a true demand for the high school, and that’s very troubling for us.”

In fact, school board members said they were initially interested in the building for an elementary school. But California law requires elementary students to only be located on the first and second floors of a building.

The group’s initial concerns about the library remain. Among them is how the cash-strapped city will find room in its budget for the increased maintenance and operation costs of a new, larger building.

The library foundation has said it has secured a funding commitment for the change in operating costs for the first five years. But after that, Lutar wondered, will the increased costs be funded “at the expense of all the other branch libraries?”

RANI GUPTA

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