Covering stories that matter to the community.
Final Unofficial Results from June 7 Primary Show El Centro, Imperial and Westmorland District Are Big Winners
Although narrowly victorious in some cases, four school bonds spread throughout Imperial County have won approval in the June 7 primary, according to the unofficial final results released by the county Registrar of Voters on Monday, June 27.
El Centro Elementary School District’s school bond initiative, Measure Y, which will be used to build a new school that the district serves in Imperial’s Victoria subdivision, was approved by the widest margin among the bonds, 56.72 percent (2,440 votes) to 43.28 percent (1,862 votes).
Imperial Unified School District’s Measure A won by the tightest margin at 50.41 percent (1,418 votes) to 49.59 percent (1,395 votes). Imperial Unified is seeking to use Measure A bonds to build a new pool facility as well as fund several other district projects.
The other two bonds, Measures W and Z, are companion bonds from Westmorland Union Elementary School District that will be used to build a gymnasium that has been sought after since 2018. Measure W passed with 56.09 percent, or 152 affirmative votes, and Measure Z passed with 55.6 percent, or 149 yes votes.
El Centro Elementary’s Measure Y is a $37.8 million general obligation bond that will be used to build a new school in the Victoria Ranch residential area and modernize classrooms throughout the district.
For the school construction, Superintendent Jon LeDoux said the state is expected to fund about 50 percent of the construction costs, which he said will allow the district to put funds toward other projects.
The new school would be a TK-eighth-grade elementary school and provide a neighborhood school for the children living in the area. The new school is designed to be a performing arts, visual arts, and technological arts magnet school, LeDoux stated in an email.
The school is projected to cost $40 million to $43 million, which LeDoux said has increased from the previous architect assessment two years ago of $23 million to $26 million, due to higher construction costs.
“The campaign was a very positive experience and truly allowed us to communicate our facility needs to the community,” LeDoux said some weeks before the final results. “Bond measures, like we have on the ballot, are the only mechanism we have to construct new facilities, so we have to be hopeful that eventually the outcome will support our students’ facility needs.”
Imperial Unified’s $50 million bond will fund a pool center of a cost from $13 million to $14 million, according to district Superintendent Bryan Thomason.
Projects planned with the remainder include the construction of a new Career Technical Education agricultural facility, modernizing both Imperial High School gyms, creation of a new wrestling complex, upgrading the physical education fields and constructing a new concession stand and bathrooms at Simpson-Shimamoto Stadium, improving student access to technology, and improving general health and safety, a new parking lot for Imperial High, and the relocation of the maintenance and operations facility and the district main office.
Measure A will cost homeowners in the district’s boundaries $49 per $100,000 of assessed value per year on their property taxes, or approximately $4.08 per month. If a home is valued at $250,000, then it would be about $122.50, or around $10.21 per month. Assessed value is not to be confused with market value of a home.
“We are really excited if this passes,” Thomason said in an interview prior to the final unofficial count. “The residents of Imperial have always supported their schools, so if it does pass there are going to be some really nice projects that are coming our way.”
Westmorland’s Measures Z and W total $7.5 million, each at $3.75 million, and are earmarked for a pre-fabricated gymnasium the district has been trying to build for several years.
See alsoIn AgricultureRegional NewsIID Preparing Water Apportionment PlanAntoine Abou-Diwan on May 10, 2022
Four years ago, Westmorland Union Elementary School District tried to pass this same bond. There was support at the time, but it did not pass the required 66 percent vote threshold. The same issues then have not alleviated, so the board chose to go for it again, this time using Proposition 39 funds at a lower voter threshold at 55 percent passage, according to district Superintendent Richard Cordero.
Westmorland does not have a large indoor facility for students to use in the heat, and a gym would allow students to work out in an air-conditioned space as well as provide a place for sports teams to play, Cordero said. A gym could also be used as a reunification center or a community shelter in the case of an emergency or evacuation. It would also provide a larger capacity community facility, he added.
Cordero said he believes the district and the city could work together to create adult sports leagues such basketball or have the gym open for events at night.
“It will be very beneficial for the community as well as the school,” he said prior to the final outcome. “We are hoping that we have that same support we will be able to pass the bond at 55 percent.”
The focus of the bond money will be for the gymnasium, Cordero said, adding that whatever money is left over will be put toward other needs of the district including upgrades for school facilities such as classrooms, buildings, and technology.
Due to inflation, Cordero said there is no price tag on the gym construction at this time.