TWENTYNINE PALMS — In 1949, Twentynine Palms Elementary School was newly built and a prized example of the local school district’s bright future, but it’s now 69 years old and wear and tear has taken a toll.
Many other public schools in the Morongo Basin also need major upgrades and renovations, according to Morongo Unified School District administrators.
“We have a great need to modernize,” said Sharon Flores, assistant superintendent for business services.
Flores visited the City Council meeting in Twentynine Palms Tuesday to urge support for bond Measure O.
The bond measure will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. Voters will be asked to approve the sale of $62 million in bonds to pay for upgrades to facilities and equipment.
If passed, the general obligation bond would add $55 per $100,000 of assessed property value to property taxes every year for 30 years.
Flores said the school district needs to use bonds because schools don’t get funding that is specifically for facilities and the state does not provide money to districts that have not passed a local bond measure.
If Measure O is passed, MUSD will be eligible for $36 million in matching funds from the state, according to the school district.
Flores warned local schools also need security upgrades and improved fire alarms.
“We could lock schools down with a single button,” she said of new technology that could cost about $3 million to install. “We want to make sure we have the safest schools around.”
The Twentynine Palms High School Wildcats also have needs, including new tennis courts and theater, Flores said.
“We are looking to improve our tracks and stadiums,” she added.
Councilman John Cole, who retired from the school district, remarked during the meeting he has witnessed local school buildings radically age.
“It’s scary, because when I came to Twentynine Palms High School it was only two to years old,” Cole said. “It is really a big issue.”