(Sacramento) – Today, the Californians for Quality Schools Campaign announced receiving the California Chamber of Commerce’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 adequately fund school construction and modernization projects throughout the state, will appear on the November 2016 ballot.
“The strength of our economy relies on the strength of our workforce. Strategic, accountable investment from the state, local districts, and the business community is required so that new schools are built to accommodate growth and aging facilities are revitalized to support a 21st Century education. Retaining this investment partnership will prepare today’s students to be successful in tomorrow’s competitive economy,” said Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce.
The initiative language retains the current funding partnership between the state and local entities, where school districts raise local dollars and then apply for matching state funds to help maximize taxpayer investment. If the measure passes, the School Facility Program – established in 1998 – 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. It will also allow communities to invest in community colleges and job training program facilities to help keep quality post-secondary education affordable for middle-class families and returning veterans. Research demonstrates that infrastructure investment – like school construction – will yield economic benefits as well, with studies showing that 13,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion of infrastructure investment.
The last statewide school facilities bond was passed by California voters in 2006. The state’s matching funds are no longer available for school districts that raise local funds for school construction projects. This leaves a backlog of $2 billion in K-12 project applications and $500 million in approved community college project applications, with billions more in identified need. With estimates placing K-12 school facility 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 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.CaliforniansForQualitySchools.com.