Lemoore District seeks $24 million bond measure for much-needed campus facelift

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Proposed architectural rendering of proposed classroom complex.
Proposed architectural rendering of proposed classroom complex.

Faced with the prospect of an aging and outdated campus, the Lemoore Union High School District Board of Trustees, at its June 9 meeting, decided to ask the community for the largest local high school bond measure in the district’s 115-year history at $24 million. The measure will be on the November 8 ballot and needs 55 percent of the vote to pass.

The general obligation bond will cost the typical property owner about $27.50 a year – based on every $100,000 of assessed valuation per year. Assessed valuations are often lower than market values.

Architectural rendering of classroom complex.
Architectural rendering of classroom complex.

Lemoore voters won’t be alone in November. Kings County will have several school bond measures on the Nov. 8 ballot. In addition to Measure L, Reef Sunset District, Hanford Elementary, Armona Elementary, Hanford High School District and Pioneer Union Elementary District all have bonds on the ballot.

Lemoore High School District’s Measure L will also share the ballot with Measure K, a county-wide sales-tax measure geared towards public safety.

The committee overseeing the measure (Committee to Renew Our Campuses) has seven members, including Superintendent Debbie Muro, Kings County Supervisor Joe Neves, Lynda Lahodny, Liberty Middle School Principal Ben Luis, local farmer and former LUHSD board member John Giovannetti, former Superintendent Bill Black, and Mark Howard.

Frequently Asked Questions

Lemoore voters, in that 115 years, have been generous to the local high school, passing all but one bond measure during that tenure. The only bond that failed was a 1923 general obligation bond that would have built a new high school at what is now its current site. But a year later, Lemoore’s voters had a change of heart and passed a $325,000 measure that provided the funds for the school’s main building – which still stands at the corner of Lemoore Avenue and Bush Street.

Lemoore District seeks $24 million bond measure for much-needed campus facelift

Coincidentally, Lemoore residents also approved funding for Lemoore’s City Hall at the same time, which is still located downtown. Lemoore residents were somewhat generous with their tax dollars in 1924.

Committee to Renew Our Campuses Facebook Page

The latest LUHS bond to pass muster was a $9.3 million measure in 1997 that passed easily, providing funding for the Event Center as well as upgrades and renovations to many campus facilities.

In 1990, voters approved a $2 million measure to construct a new swimming pool, which will get a facelift with funds provided by the expected passage of Measure L.

Measure L Master Plan Overview

School officials understand that $24 million is a lot of money, but Lemoore Trustee Lupe Solis, who coincidentally has a long personal history at Lemoore High School – he was a Spanish teacher, assistant principal, principal and now a board member -  told The Leader the measure is needed to create a modern and safe campus. “There are simply things that need to be addressed,” he said. “We really feel strongly that many things needed to be taken care of on our campus, for the benefit of the students and staff.”

Solis currently is an assistant superintendent with the Tulare County Office of Education.

There are currently three campuses associated with the Lemoore High School District: Lemoore High School, Jamison High and Middle College High School, housed currently at West Hills College Lemoore.

A fact sheet supplied by the District explains in detail why school officials needed to act. “Our schools are outdated and upgrades and renovations need to be made,” it stated. “While facilities have been well maintained, old classrooms must be upgraded since many do not meet 21st Century education and technology standards.”

The District claims that Measure L will provide students with a better learning environment by constructing new facilities and making repairs and upgrades to existing classrooms and buildings, many of which are also used by and available to the community, such as the library and playing fields.

School officials insist that bond proceeds will not be used for teacher or administrator salaries and only for the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation or replacement of school facilities. In addition, the board of trustees will appoint a “Citizens’ Oversight Committee” to oversee the project from start to finish.

The district is likely to have access to a total of $30.5 million. In addition to the bond measure, the district could receive $832,000 from developer fees, $1.1 million from the capital reserve fund, and possible funding from the state to the tune of $4.4 million.

One of the major projects, should the bond measure pass, is expected to be the demolition of one of the school’s oldest structures, the small gymnasium, located in the heart of the main campus. The adjacent home economics building, just east of the small gym, is also slated to be demolished, and in its place school officials say a new classroom complex will be constructed at a cost of $6.5 million.

According to a Master Plan Overview, prepared by Teeter Architects, Engineers Connected, and approved by the LHSD board on May 26, while the campus is large and has maintained its historical integrity, there are still many needs, including landscaping and student gathering places, corridor roofs in need of repair, infrastructure issues, failing water pipes and power distribution issues.

Teeter also indicated the district needs a technology upgrade and the 25-year-old pool is in need of re-plastering and lacks shade for seating. The ag farm lacks classroom and lab space and the Tiger Stadium restrooms and concessions are in need of ADA upgrades.

School officials say if the bond passes it will take about a year to sell the bonds and begin construction and renovation.  Committee members will post signs and place posters in local businesses. The group plans to walk precincts on Oct. 1.

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