Bond action in Acton

Members of the board will meet June 28 to decide if the district's prospective General Obligation bond will be on November's ballet. The public has been invited to provide input.
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For the first time in nearly a decade, a new bond measure could be coming to the November ballot and the schools of the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District.

The public will have a chance to speak on the matter at an AADUSD board meeting June 28, where members of the board will vote to decide if the prospective General Obligation bond will see the ballot this fall.

“This is really about the renovation and upkeep of facilities,” board member Ken Pfalzgraf said. “Staff came up for multiple considerations for the board. One is a small bond that only deals with Acton School and the other three consider other sites and state matching funds.”

In order for the bond to pass, more than 55 percent of voters must declare their support for the measure.

The district is hoping to use the money to improve schools, just as is it did in 2008 when voters approved the Measure CF bond, which erected a number of new buildings at Vasquez High School. However, prior to Measure CF, the district tried to pass several bond measures and nearly all failed to gain support at the election booth.

Officials said finding the money for a more permanent high school was challenging, but they hope voters recognize the prior bond’s success and impact on the students of Vasquez High.

“The long-planned renovation at the Acton School (which shut down nearly a decade ago due to declining enrollment and funding) was supposed to prepare the school to take on students from an overcrowded Meadowlark School,” Pfalzgraf said. “Despite over a million dollars being put in the project thus far,” it has not resulted in increased housing capacities for students. “In fact, that capacity has been diminished.”

Pfalzgraf said he understands the hesitance the public or board might have in approving a new bond, before noting, “the bond for Vasquez resulted in a beautiful high school.”

The project was well managed, came in under budget and resulted in a surplus that allowed funding for other projects, the member of the board added. “We’ve had nothing but success when using bonds, and not so much when using charter-related funding”

Vasquez High School has made extremely good use of the funds it received, Larry Layton wrote in his individual capacity on Facebook, “the fair share should now go Acton School to benefit our elementary students.”

Layton, who died of heart failure over the weekend, cited overcrowding issues that have forced many elementary school to attend classes on a stage, in offices and a local middle school.

Layton believed there is nothing more important than solving the problems of student housing, which is why he favored the bond and “a very tight project list,” which would restrict how the bond could be spent.

Pfalzgraf agreed that he’d like to see specific accountability points and the scope of the project’s conditions included in the bond language.

“I’m not interested in building a slush fund so people can do whatever they want, “ Pfalzgraf said. “The project list, the project plan and citizens oversight committee are critical to the integrity of the bond.”

Layton begged members of the public to attend the AADUSD June 14 meeting, but the bond will now be discussed at the June 28 meeting out of respect for Layton, according to district officials.

“Public input and support is critical,” Pfalzgraf concurred. “I have no reason to believe that we would have a problem managing a bond effort.”

“Whether it be large or small,” he said, “the community has the track record showing they can effectively manage both.”

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