Voters dip into pockets for $380M school bond

June 9, 2010 5:27:47 PM PDT
In Contra Costa County, one school bond election victory will bring more security to the scene of a horrific gang rape at a high school.

Measure D was one of the biggest school bond initiatives in the state during this election. The West Contra Costa County School District was asking it's voters to approve $380 million not only to improve security, but to rebuild schools.

Veteran school district board member Charles Ramsey had hugs for everyone on the day after the big victory. Measure D had passed overwhelmingly. 62 percent of voters gave the school district the green light to repair aging schools in West Contra Costa County.

A significant portion will go towards improving school security after last fall's gang rape of a 15-year-old student at Richmond High. Ramsey says that school will now have the latest security equipment.

"We'll absolutely work with local law enforcement linking up these new security systems, installing surveillance cameras for the site," he said.

The school board had an inkling voters in the working class district would approve the measure. Last fall, they took a poll which showed overwhelming support for upgrading school facilities and security enhancements.

However, the poll also showed that residents were not willing to fund programs such as libraries, labs and in a time of deep cuts to education and teacher layoffs, one other thing: Teachers' salaries.

Terri Jackson is acting president of the teachers union. She had mixed feelings about the ballot measure.

"I think that teachers feel like, we can be in really nice buildings, but what about the quality of the teachers that are inside those buildings helping, you know, the future ," she says.

Tracy Fetter will have a daughter in the first grade. She says parents cannot pay for everything.

"We will help with the schools and the buildings in our local community, but it's really the state's job to pay more for teachers and hire more teachers," she says.

Voters in the district have been extremely generous to their schools. They have already approved several expensive school measures in recent years. The last one was Measure J. They were asking for and got $400 million

Other school taxes and bond measures throughout the Bay Area also passed quite handily including a bond measure in the Mount Diablo School District, and parcel taxes in Milpitas, Alum Rock and Campbell. The three parcel taxes all passed with at least 70 percent support.


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