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Ceiling tiles show water damage inside the cafeteria at Antioch High School in Antioch, Calif., on Thursday, July 26, 2012. School district trustees Wednesday night unanimously approved placing a $56.5 million bond measure on the November ballot aimed solely at modernizing the 58-year-old campus. Last month a similar version of the bond measure failed by just 31 votes. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

ANTIOCH -- Antioch High is in need of some TLC.

The 58-year-old high school's classrooms lack modern technology and have extension cords running along the floor, its cafeteria is too small for students to all fit in when the weather is bad, bathroom pipes are prone to breaking, and many classes are held in portables.

The question remains whether voters in the older part of Antioch are willing to pay additional property tax to help renovate the well-worn school.

To this point, the answer has been no.

But barely.

Measure J, a $59.5 million bond measure with the bulk of the funds going to Antioch High's modernization, lost by 31 votes in June: 8659 votes were cast for the measure, which needed 55 percent voter approval to pass.

Because of the narrow defeat, voters in the area of Antioch identified as School Facilities Improvement District 1 are being asked the question again this November.

Measure B is a $56.5 million school bond measure that would modernize the school. Unlike Measure J, all of the money would be devoted to Antioch High.

"It's a no-brainer. Our students deserve it," said Maria Myers, a parent coordinator at Antioch High.

"As a community we need to take care of our kids, they can't do it themselves."

Antioch is the oldest school in the county not to be renovated, Principal Louie Rocha said.

Alhambra, Pittsburg and Liberty high schools have all received complete makeovers.

"How many of us live in a house built in the 1950s that haven't had to make some sort of enhancements or repairs?" Myers asked.

Just last week, one of the boys' bathrooms was closed for a few days because of a burst pipe.

"I don't think people realize how bad it is," Myers said.

Needs identified at Antioch High include a larger cafeteria, new and reconfigured classrooms that better suit the school's aim to create learning groups, including math, science and computer labs, repairs to hallways and other aging structures, a new library and media center, and renovated sports facilities, including a new pool and locker rooms.

Some improvements were made to Antioch High's ventilation units and auditorium as part of a bond measure passed in 2008. Taxpayers in the School Facilities Improvement District area already pay about $50 for every $100,000 of assessed value because of Measure C.

If voters approve the new bond, tax bills to retire school bonds would double from about $56 per $100,000 to about $106 in 2014, and reach about $125 by 2026. For a home assessed at a current average of $141,500, that's $176.87 a year.

The tax cost could be more if district projections of an average 3.66 percent annual increase in property tax assessments don't pan out. If the tax assessments decrease, the property tax rates for the school bonds increase.

If approved, the Measure B bonds would be paid off by 2044. It would include an independent citizens oversight committee and no funds would be spend on administrators.

Those opposed to Measure B are sticking to the same arguments they made earlier this year, namely that the added property tax would add an additional monthly expense for residents struggling with the mortgage, groceries, buying gas, and paying water and utility bills.

"It's not a good time for them to do it," said Arne Simonsen, a former Antioch councilman. "All you have to do is look at what the unemployment rates are around here. Plus, I'd venture to say that about 50 percent of the people have mortgages that are underwater. It's a struggle."

The school board has always had the ability to fund improvements at Antioch High, but it has refused to do so or put it toward pensions, wages and benefits instead, said Ralph Hernandez, a former city councilman.

"It's a cop-out for a lack of leadership," he said.

Proponents, however, say there is no state funding available for the renovations.

Simonsen also wonders if the district would come back at a later date to ask for money to improve the middle and elementary schools in the older area. He also questions if some money would be set aside in case fixes are needed by the time the bond expires.

A survey of 404 residents conducted earlier this year found about 61 percent of those who live in the area would vote for the bond.

Measure B proponents are optimistic that higher voter turnout than the 11 percent that voted in June will garner a different result.

"There is a lot of support, we just need to get them to the polls," Myers said. "If not, nothing at Antioch High will change."

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.