Voters will get a second chance to give old Antioch High School a new look.
School district trustees this week unanimously approved placing a $56.5 million bond measure on the November ballot aimed solely at modernizing the 58-year-old campus -- months after a similar bond measure failed by just 31 votes.
The arguments for the bond are the same as they were in June, when a $59.5 million failed with 54.5 percent of the vote. It needed 55 percent for approval, as would this measure.
This version of the bond measure is more concise. The proceeds are devoted solely to Antioch High instead of using a portion of the funds for other middle and elementary schools.
"There are a lot of semantics, but I thinkit's worth bringing to a fair and democratic election, and people can either go thumbs up or thumbs down," trustee Walter Ruehlig said Wednesday.
Taxpayers in the area, identified as School Facilities Improvement District 1, would be charged an additional $49.85 per year on their tax bill, boosting it to $99.85 because of the district's Measure C. June's Measure J would have cost taxpayers an additional $52.
Few dispute the need at Antioch High.
Parents and teachers say the school's cafeteria is too small for students to all fit inside when the weather is bad. Its classrooms lack modern technology and have cords running along the floor. The bathrooms leak, the pool has been empty for years and many classes are held in
"I don't think a lot of people realize how bad it is," said Maria Myers, Antioch High parent coordinator.
The construction bond would provide money for a larger cafeteria, a new library and media center, as well as renovate classrooms, including science and computer labs. The money would be used to replace inefficient building systems and renovate sports facilities, including a new pool, track and locker rooms.
Karen Holman, a retired high schoolteacher and 1968 Antioch High graduate, told trustees she voted against Measure J because it did not spell out "exactly where the money was going."
And she is not convinced the new proposal deserves her support. Holman wants to see renderings of what the modernization would look like and she wants professionals sitting on the citizen oversight committee. She also wants a commitment to monthly construction updates.
Opponents of Measure J have said they are against any new initiative for the same reason they opposed the last one -- mainly that it creates another expense for folks struggling with living costs such as groceries, gasoline and utility bills. Ralph Hernandez told trustees that elected officials past and present have failed to put the district's money toward improvements.
"You cannot go back to the public and say, 'Cover for us,'" he said.
Myers is excited Antioch High gets another chance, saying there will be more of a campaign this go around.
"I like this version (of the bond) better. It's obvious we're going to have to work harder, but the future for the school just looks brighter," she said.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.