Proposition 51 will provide needed state funds to repair and build new school facilities
Today, Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) and former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan joined school district officials from Elk Grove Unified, Natomas Unified, Sacramento City Unified and Los Rios Community College Districts and supporters of the Yes on Proposition 51 campaign to outline each districts’ local school facilities needs and why Proposition 51 funds are vital. Specifically, each district detailed why continued state funding is necessary to repair and build new schools in each community, and urged the passage of Proposition 51 – a state school facilities bond on the November ballot.
“We have a tremendous responsibility to ensure our schools are equipped to match our high expectations for our students. While we are deeply honored that our community has invested in local bond measures, the types of repairs and need for renovation of our older school buildings go far beyond our district’s scope and means. That is why Proposition 51 is vital to being able to create great learning environments for kids, and great places in which teachers work,” said Sacramento City School District Superintendent José Banda.
Because the last statewide school facilities bond was passed by California voters in 2006, there currently is a backlog of almost $2 billion in K-12 project applications and almost $500 million in priority community college projects. There is a pressing need to act now. Many schools and community colleges are outdated and need repairs to meet basic health and safety standards — including retrofitting for earthquake safety, fire safety, and removing asbestos and lead paint and pipes. Prop 51 will help make sure our local schools are updated and safe for students.
“Proposition 51 is vital to our district because we need the state as an investment partner to help maximize our local dollars, and help us prioritize our renovation projects. Should we not be able to access state matching grant funds through Prop 51, we will be forced to forego important upgrades to our aging schools,” said Rob Pierce, Elk Grove Unified School District Associate Superintendent of Facilities.
Specifically, Elk Grove Unified stated that it has 65 school sites that are in constant use with some of them built as early as 1935 – including 20 schools built between 1935 and 1978. The district is experiencing significant growth and foresee the need to build at least 10 new elementary schools and a middle and high school in the next decade, at a cost of $634 million. The district has identified a total of $1.6 billion in modernization and new construction facilities needs to adequately serve families, and needs Proposition 51 funds to pair with its local bond Measure M that will raise $476 million – far short of its identified need.
Sacramento City Unified has benefited from $177 million in renovation and modernization projects in 77 schools through the school facilities program and is eligible for an additional $59 million in matching state grant funds should Proposition 51 pass.
At Los Rios Community College District, the statewide bond measures have been essential over the past 14 years. State bonds have supported 522 community college projects, including $151 million used to renovate and modernize 21 facilities at four campuses. Proposition 51 will help keep college affordable and provide the training for a 21st century work force.
At Natomas Unified, the district is anticipating significant growth now that a moratorium on development has been lifted. The district has identified $350 million in school facility project needs over the next 5 years, and has already applied for $17 million in matching state grant funds.
Proposition 51 has a total of 395 endorsements, with supporters including organizations, businesses, education leaders, and elected officials. Notable and recent endorsements of the measure include the California Democratic Party, the California Republican Party, the California Taxpayers Association, the California Labor Federation, the League of Women Voters of California and 146 school districts. A full list of endorsements can be found here.
For more information on Proposition 51, please visit www.YesOn51.com.
Top Photo: Assemblyman Jim Cooper, Middle Photo: Elk Grove USDSchool Board Member Nancy Chaires Espinoza, Bottom Photo: Former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan