Today, the Californians for Quality Schools campaign announced that the Central Valley Education Coalition (CVEC) has 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. The CVEC includes the county superintendents and school districts in the six-county area of Tulare, Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa and Merced. There are 124 districts or county offices that educate more than 415,000 K-12 students.
“By passing this measure, the state can fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide safe secure schools while allowing local communities to accountably prioritize and fulfill the needs of their students,” said Jim Vidak, CVEC Chairperson and the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools. “Every child deserves school facilities that enables them to reach their full potential, and we need the state as a strong partner to ensure they are being prepared to compete for well-paying jobs.”
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.