Local school bonds enjoyed wide support in Kern County Tuesday, with 10 out of 11 bond measures passing, setting records across the region as voters approved almost $1.4 billion in spending on school construction.
The measures needed 55 percent of the vote to pass.
• Kern Community College District’s $502.8 million Measure J passed with a vote of 60.6 percent yes and 39.4 percent no;
• Kern High School District’s $280 million Measure K passed with a vote of 63.2 percent yes and 36.8 percent no;
• Bakersfield City School District’s $110 million Measure N passed with a vote of 68.9 percent yes and 31.1 percent no;
• McFarland Unified School District's $110 million Measure L, which required a 2/3 voter approval, failed to attract more than 53 percent.
This was a record year for school bond measures in California, with more than 184 districts asking for more than $25 billion for facilities improvements.
Kern County alone had 11 school measures totaling $1.4 billion — more than what school districts in Contra Costa, Fresno and Kings counties asked for combined. Proposition 51, a $9 billion statewide bond measure, passed statewide with 54 percent approval. If it failed, local districts proposing bond measures would not have received state matching funds, forcing them to scale back their project lists. This measure only needed a majority vote to pass.
KERN COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT
KCCD’s Measure J would provide $502.8 million to upgrade deteriorating buildings, with the lion’s share — about $350 million — going toward Bakersfield College.
The district drafted a project list totaling $670 million in June, with $100 million earmarked for projects serving athletics and physical education.
The big ticket items include $40 million to modernize BC’s gym, the Gil Bishop Sports Center; $12 million to modernize Memorial Stadium; and $8.5 million for construction of a women’s athletics field house.
Roughly $65 million has been earmarked for a STEM building that BC President Sonya Christian called the “jewel of the project list.” It would expand chemistry labs and engineering classrooms as the district refocuses on sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.
District officials have also stressed the construction of two veterans resources centers, one each at the Bakersfield and Delano BC campuses, at a cost of $10.5 million.
KERN HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT
KHSD’s $280 million Measure K would ease overcrowding by funding at least one new high school and a career technical education facility.
Renovations costing $42.5 million at Bakersfield High School’s Warren Hall top a list of modernization projects the district has drafted. The district also earmarked funds for two pools within the district. It currently has none.
That project list also includes two career training centers budgeted at about $123 million; a $125 million high school planned for south Bakersfield; a $9.2 million special education facility; and roughly $103 million in renovations at Foothill, North, Arvin and Bakersfield high schools.
District officials have said they would build one of those career technical education centers regardless of whether the bond passes.
About $28 million in bond funds would go to the district’s regional occupation center and adult school.
BAKERSFIELD CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
BCSD’s $110 million Measure N would also ease overcrowding in classrooms, many of which were built at least 50 years ago.
Administrators have developed a master facilities plan with $835 million in projects over 20 to 25 years. If the bond measure is approved, funds would go toward repairing and upgrading classrooms that are decades old and purchasing new school sites to accommodate student growth.
District trustees have stressed the need to make schools more equitable.
Some students are taught in 50-year-old classrooms not equipped for 21st century teaching while others in more affluent parts of the district enjoy brand new buildings.