Californians for Quality Schools, the campaign in support of the $9 billion school facilities bond qualified for the November 2016 ballot, today announced the endorsements of both former California State Superintendents of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin and Jack O’Connell. Ms. Eastin, a former state legislator, served as the state’s Superintendent during the administrations of both Governors Gray Davis and Pete Wilson; and Mr. O’Connell, also a former state legislator, served as California’s State Superintendent during the administrations of both Governors Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both Ms. Eastin and Mr. O’Connell join current California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson in supporting the Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016. If passed, the measure will continue the successful and effective School Facility Program, where districts raise local dollars and then apply for matching state grant funds to maximize local taxpayer investment in school facilities.
“The School Facilities Bond Act is a critical investment partnership between our state and local school districts, and has proven to equitably fund school construction projects across California in the past,” said Ms. Eastin. “Not only will the state bond make sure our districts are not placed in the impossible position of having to choose between a new roof or academic programs, it will communicate to children that the adults are serious about education. Children are savvy enough to know what it looks like when adults think a building is important. We must avoid the hypocrisy of talking about the importance of education but then sending students to down-at-the-heel old school buildings. A picture really is worth a thousand words.”
“The research is absolutely clear on this: better learning environments mean students perform better in school,” said Mr. O’Connell. “Every child, no matter the size or wealth of their school district, deserves access to safe, secure and modern school facilities. Passing the state bond and continuing the School Facility Program will help all districts provide high quality school facilities.”
Since its establishment in 1998, California’s state facilities funding program has overseen the construction and modernization of schools for over 4 million children. It has been nearly ten years since California last passed a state school bond, and the state fund that provides matching funds to local school districts has been nearly depleted. As a result, there is a growing $2 billion backlog of K-12 projects that have submitted applications under the current program’s existing rules and regulations, and another $500 million in approved high priority community college projects awaiting funding, with billions more in identified need. Estimates also project future K-12 school construction funding needs of more than $20 billion over the next decade.
If the measure is successful, 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 to keep quality post-secondary education affordable for middle-class families and returning veterans. Research also shows 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.
For more information on the Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016, please visit www.CaliforniansForQualitySchools.com.