Panama-Buena Vista Union School District superintendent urges support for $90 million bond measure

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Leaders from one of Kern County’s largest school districts urged support Friday for a multi-million dollar bond measure they say will provide much-needed funds for the growing district.     

Panama-Buena Vista Union School District Superintendent Kevin Silberberg said if Measure H does not pass, district schools will simply run out of room. The district, which is located in Southwest Bakersfield, is the third-largest in Kern county with roughly 25 schools and 18,000 students. And it’s growing.

“Many of our schools have way too many kids at their school,” Silberberg said. “We had about 250 kids that had to go to another school this year because their local school [and] their neighborhood school was too full.”

That’s why Silberberg said he’s behind a $90 million bond measure on the ballot this Election Day. It’s called measure H. If passed, the money would be generated via property taxes. Each homeowner in the district would pay $30 for every $100,000 of their property value.

“The teacher is most important, number two is the curriculum, but number three is that classroom environment,” Silberberg continued.

He added the money generated would go towards increased school security, classroom upgrades, and three brand-new schools. One such planned school, Highgate Elementary School, already is set for a plot of land in the Seven Oaks portion of Bakersfield.

The Kern Taxpayers Association supports the measure primarily because the plan calls for the estimated $15 million in interest to be paid off in 10 years.

“Instead of going to interest, it will go to projects. So we think it’s been very well crafted,” said Michael Turnipseed, executive director of the Kern Taxpayers Association.

While the Kern Taxpayers Association does not encourage voters to vote one way or the other on any measure, they did send out a letter to parents in the district. The front of the pamphlet reads “Kern Tax thanks district leaders for their excellent stewardship of taxpayer dollars.”

The measure needs 55 percent to pass.

Today marks 25 days until Election Day.

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