Voters on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in less than two months will decide on a $398 million bond measure that would go toward repairs and new construction throughout the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District.
The measure will be part of the March 3 election.
Among the projects with the greatest needs are at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, where Superintendent Alex Cherniss and principal Brent Kuykendall on a recent visit pointed out crumbling concrete, and electrical and plumbing issues that all need fixing. The campus, they said, is 60 years old and showing its age.
“It’s a challenge,” Kuykendall said. “We can patch and we can paint, but at the end of the day, it’s the infrastructure that needs to be replaced. It’s critical we do a substantial project.”
Two main classroom buildings at the high school would be replaced over the course of roughly six years, Cherniss estimated.
The need for improvements district-wide, Cherniss said, has reached a tipping point. Broken sewer lines at a middle school and Palos Verdes High have caused disruptions during this academic year alone, he said.
Over the past two years, the district’s Board of Education prioritized a list of 23 projects valued at nearly $400 million. For the bond measure to pass, at least 55% of voters who cast ballots must approve it.
“Over 95% of the projects are primarily infrastructure type improvements,” Cherniss said. “Many classrooms don’t have heating and air conditioning. Pipes and plumbing are 60 years old. There’s seismic retrofitting that’s needed. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access issues. There are playgrounds that need resurfacing. All the bathrooms need to be redone. There are leaky roofs. We need re-piping for drinking water. This is really an infrastructure measure to address our needs.”
The bond would be paid back through property taxes, which would come out to an additional $38 per year for every $100,000 of assessed home value when the owner bought the house.
For roughly 20% of residents, their assessed home value is less than $300,000, according to Cherniss. Currently, home owners in the district pay $22 per $100,000 of assessed value based on a bond measures passed nearly 20 years ago, which Cherniss said is the lowest in L.A. County.
“Even if this passes,” he added, “we’re still toward the bottom of L.A. County.
“Without a doubt, property values are tied to the quality of the school district,” Cherniss continued. “People move here for the schools. But they also move here because they know their investment in their homes will be a good one. So it’s symbiotic.”
Board President Suzanne Seymour said the bond measure would not only benefit the school district, but also the community at large — and especially sports programs that utilize district facilities.
Among the new construction projects would be two gyms, one each at Palos Verdes and Ridgecrest intermediate schools, and major renovations to the swimming pool at Miraleste Intermediate School. Several sports fields would also be repaired and possibly the grass replaced with artificial turf.
“We have to maintain our facilities if they are going to last another 50 years,” Seymour said. “That’s what we really haven’t done up until this point. We’ve tried, but we have a lot of work that needed to be done over the years.”