By Deb Murphy
Lone Pine and Independence schools have a lot in common. Both facilities need more than just good maintenance; they need new wiring, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, plumbing fixes, wiring upgrades, energy efficient windows. The list goes on.
The major difference between the two: Lone Pine schools are 20 years older.
The Lone Pine Unified School Districts’ answer is Measure K, a $5.9 million general obligation bond on the June 5 ballot. The ask is less than the facilities assessment in the hope matching funds can be used to lure funding from the state, according to Superintendent/Principal Heidi Torix.
Property owners will be paying approximately $60 per $100,000 of assessed value (as opposed to actual market value) over a 30 year period.
Torix hosted a tour of both the high school and Lo-Inyo Elementary school earlier this month. The district also held community forums in Olancha, Alabama Hills and the district offices.
The elementary school restrooms are just big enough for small students to get in and out with no room for a wheel-chair bound child or one with physical limitations to maneuver. Lighting, faucets, windows are all slated for replacement. Replacing door locks is a safety issue. Paint is peeling. The louvers on the bell tower leak, the plumbing needs serious help.
Anyone with an older home will get this picture.
According to Torix, public comment indicated nobody wanted the high school to look “new.” It won’t. Wood siding will be replaced with materials that look like wood but won’t weather and deteriorate like wood.
The buildings are long overdue for windows, plumbing and wiring upgrades. The science and home ec rooms will be modernized.
The bond would finance an upgraded public address system and add surveillance systems at both campuses.
Like the Independence school district, primary property owners in Lone Pine aren’t individual residents, they’re utilities: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and, in Lone Pine’s case Coso Geothermal. The complication with the geothermal facility: the value of the property drops as the source of geothermal energy drops. While the district received property taxes in the millions from Coso, last year, the company paid $800,000.
That decline in property values was taken into consideration in structuring Measure K.