Today, the Californians for Quality Schools campaign announced that Assemblymember Scott Wilk (R – Santa Clarita) endorsed 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.
“Passing a new school facilities bond in November is a strategic investment in our communities, our students, and our economic future,” said Assemblymember Wilk. “California must continue to play a role in the financing of school facilities, otherwise school districts could be left with little choice but to rely on regressive taxes to make up the shortfall. We need to preserve the existing partnership between state, local taxpayers, and the building industry so that districts have the resources needed to prepare students for a 21st Century economy.”
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. It will also allow communities to invest in community college facilities that support job-training programs.
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 effectively depleted, leaving a backlog of $2 billion in K-12 project applications and almost $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 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.