It's a sign of the fiscal times: There are 106 public school bond propositions in 33 counties on California's November ballot.
They range from a low of $830,000 for Pacific Elementary School in Santa Cruz County to $2.8 billion in San Diego Unified, according to Ballotpedia.
In Monterey County, three school districts will be asked to approve nearly $200 million in bonds for school upgrades.
Measure L at the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, which covers part of North Monterey County, would issue $150 million in bonds for classroom upgrades that range from fixing leaky roofs to rewiring classrooms for technology upgrades to removing mold and asbestos from classrooms.
"Ninety percent of all the schools in the district would get some portion of the bond," said Brett McFadden, chief business officer at the district. "It may seem like a lot, but we're in the top 100 districts in the state.
"There's a lot of need," McFadden said. "The average age of our schools in the district is 50 years, and just like a house or a car, after so many years of use there's wear and tear."
Pajaro Valley Unified has nearly 20,000 students and 34 schools. The measure would cost $38 per $100,000 assessed value. About 20 percent of Pajaro Valley Unified's territory is in Monterey County, although only about 12 percent of the voters in the district live in that area.
A group of residents oppose the bond on a slew of issues: because there are a lot of taxes already imposed on residents in the area, because the tax would be distributed "unfairly" — the richest region of the district has fewer school-age children — and because the economy is still limping and this is not the time to impose more taxes.
Voters in the Spreckels Union School District will be asked to support a $7 million bond for upgrades as mundane as "roofs" and as sophisticated as technology.
Property owners would be charged $26 a year per $100,000 of assessed value — or about $125 a year, given the area's home values.
"Like many districts we're dealing with the impacts of the state budget crisis," said Superintendent Eric Tarallo. "This is our way of saying we want to maintain the quality of education for our kids."
Although much of the bond would go to maintenance and repairs, the biggest need is to upgrade technology, Tarallo said.
"Our technology labs may have four or five different operating systems," Tarallo said. "Teachers and students get so frustrated. There's no way our technology's addressing the needs of 21st century learners."
No formal opposition to the bond appears to have emerged.
In the Salinas Valley, voters in the Soledad Union School District will be asked to approve $40 million in bonds, or about $120 a year per home. Unlike the Spreckels and Pajaro Valley bonds, this one would require two-thirds of the vote to be approved because of the amount being sought.
Projects would be distributed among the district's 10 schools and would include wiring upgrades for technology, handicap accessibility upgrades such as restroom improvements and ramps, renovating playgrounds and roofs, and safety upgrades such as new fencing.
"The main things for us is we only have one middle school," said Gloria Ledesma, vice president of the board of trustees. "We don't have the land, and the cost of building is not going down."
The Soledad City Council last week approved a resolution approving Measure C, and several residents spoke on its behalf. There appears to be no organized effort to defeat it.
Claudia Meléndez Salinas can be reached at 753-6755 or firstname.lastname@example.org.