Prop E funds to go towards school upgrades, technology infrastructure, security

ESCONDIDO— Last year nearly 57 percent of voters approved Proposition E, which allowed Escondido Union School District to take out $182.1 million in bonds to update aging facilities and technology infrastructure and increase security.

On March 3, the district held a special bond workshop to discuss the first wave of spending which will be available in 90 days, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Michael Taylor.

The total bond will be released in three-year increments until 2033, with a first installment of $58.4 million.

The largest chunk of the first installment is going towards updating aged schools, including Central Elementary School, Mission Middle School and Orange Glen High School.

According to Director of Maintenance and Operations Francis Spoonemore, these schools were chosen because they have the most maintenance calls.

Central is 77 years old and all of the schools need plumbing, electrical and structural upgrades, among other improvements.

To highlight the issues, Spoonemore talked about Orange Glen’s plumbing. He said some of the taps have brown water coming out and the aging cast iron pipes need to be replaced.

“We’ve had two major backups at that school just in the last 60 days,” Spoonemore said.

About $31 million will be dedicated to upgrades and will begin in summer 2016.

Spoonemore said they want to do construction when students are out of school but this summer is too soon to finish design plans.

In April, staff is going to start replacing information technology infrastructure in all schools in order to increase performance and reliability of the Internet.

Superintendent Dr. Luis Ibarra said the new technology infrastructure will bring the schools into the 21st century.

He called network access “the new pencil.”

“In the classroom how can we imagine that the computer is an option? Our students need to have access to that,” Ibarra said.

Michael Malone, director of information technology, said the new infrastructure will include diagnostic capabilities so staff can monitor the system and find out about problems before they arise.

He said staff will install fiber optic cables to connect all of the schools to a major hub.

Fiber optic cables allow access from greater distances compared to the school’s current use of copper.

About $11 million has been allocated for information technology infrastructure.

In 2027, another $11 million will go towards technology infrastructure. Malone said 15 years is five generations of technology and a lot can happen.

He said they will need to be flexible with how the money is spent.

Another project coming up is replacing the 442 relocatable buildings in the district.

About $8 million will be spent to replace relocatable classrooms, which were originally intended to be temporary and $1 million will go towards replacing relocatable restrooms.

The board has not yet decided whether to replace the buildings with traditional buildings, or with modular style buildings, which are quicker to install but have a shorter lifespan.

This coming summer, the district will use $8.5 million on “quick start” projects that were deemed critical.

In an effort to increase security, $2.5 million of the $8.5 million will be spent on fencing and gates at schools throughout the district.

Ibarra said the fencing will reflect the architectural style of each school and will not have a “prison” or “institutional” look.

Shade structures at the schools will also receive an update.

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