Today, the Californians for Quality Schools Campaign announced the California Housing Consortium’s endorsement of the Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016. The measure, a $9 billion state school facilities bond to match local funds for school construction and modernization projects throughout the state, will appear on the November 2016 ballot. The California Housing Consortium is a non-partisan advocate for the production and preservation of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income Californians.
“California has a growing housing affordability crisis that will only be made worse should the state walk away from helping local communities fund school facilities,” said Ray Pearl, Executive Director of the California Housing Consortium. “Under the existing program, California provides much needed matching funds to local school districts. If the state abandons that support, it will lead to higher housing costs as schools look to make up lost revenue from new housing projects. This will only further exacerbate the housing crisis and hurt working families.”
The initiative language retains the successful current funding partnership between the state and local entities, where eligible school districts raise local dollars and then apply for matching state funds to help maximize taxpayer investment. The measure will also maintain school district authority to levy fees on developers to ensure they pay their fair share of school facility costs. This program – the School Facility Program – was signed into law in 1998. If the measure passes, the program will continue and communities will have the ability to upgrade aging facilities to meet current health and safety standards and educational needs, and to build new facilities.
The last statewide school facilities bond was passed by California voters in 2006. The state’s fund to provide matching dollars to school districts that have already raised local funds for school construction projects has been depleted, leaving a backlog of $2 billion in K-12 projects and $500 million in approved community college projects, with billions more in identified need. With estimates placing K-14 school construction funding needs for the next decade at more than $20 billion, the $9 billion bond will be a significant step forward to address the state’s future school construction needs.
The Coalition for Adequate School Housing, which has served as a strong advocate for K-12 facilities funding since 1978, partnered with the California Building Industry Association to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot.
For more information on the Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016, please visit www.