Measure RR, a bond issue aimed at providing the Los Angeles Unified School District with a steady flow of money to improve its facilities and technology, as well as increase safety measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, appeared bound for passage Tuesday evening.
Early vote totals showed the $7 billion bond measure receiving support from more than 71% of voters.
Backers said the funds will address school facility inequities, reduce and remove asbestos, address earthquake and water quality hazards and replace/renovate aging school classrooms/buildings.
According to LAUSD documents, the lion’s share of the funds — about $3 billion — would be used to upgrade the 70% of district facilities that are in desperate need of repairs, and to create modern learning environments within them.
The money would also be subject to independent audits and citizen oversight, and no funds would be used for administrative salaries, according to the ballot language.
The LAUSD Board of Education voted unanimously to place Measure RR on the Nov. 3 ballot, and in its overview document of the measure, school officials said the district has more than $50 billion in needed repairs and upgrades.
Measure RR needs 55% of the vote to pass because it would raise property taxes, per California state law. The cost of repaying the bonds would be taxed at about $2.17 per $100,000 of assessed property value. The measure is expected to raise about $329 million annually until 2055.
Measure RR is similar to the last $7 billion LAUSD school facilities bond measure that was passed in 2008, Measure Q, although that measure was mostly reserved solely for making immediate repairs to school buildings.
For this election, Measure RR has not seen a cent spent by anyone or campaign aiming to oppose it, according to documents from the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, which tracks LAUSD election campaign spending.
In turn, the political action committee “Yes on RR-Committee for Safe, Updated, Modernized Schools,” has so far garnered more than $1.5 million in support of the measure — mostly from labor unions — and it has spent a little more than $1 million of that money on political advertising, Ethics Commission documents show.
Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education races have grown increasingly contentious in recent years, and this election was no exception, with the traditional debate over charter schools fueling the battle.
Incumbent Scott Schmerelson in District 3, which represents the western San Fernando Valley, held an early lead over Granada Hills Charter High School staffer Marilyn Koziatek, with 54.6% of the vote.
Schmerelson was strongly backed by the United Teachers Los Angeles teachers union and Koziatek was backed heavily by the California Charter Schools Association.
In District 7, Tanya Ortiz Franklin was leading Patricia Castellanos with 58.57% of the vote.
Castellanos is a co-founder of Reclaim Our Schools L.A. and Ortiz Franklin is a former teacher who works with the Partnership for L.A. Schools.
Castellanos was also heavily backed by UTLA, while Franklin has support from a variety of charter school backers.
The seat is open due to Richard Vladovic being termed out of office. District 7 covers an area that includes South Los Angeles, Gardena, Watts and San Pedro.
Incumbent board members Jackie Goldberg and George McKenna were both re-elected in the March primary in Districts 5 and 1, respectively.
The new board will have to deal with a raft of politically sensitive issues, such as managing the continuing learning challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic and an increasingly intense push to “defund” the School Police Department.