Today, the Californians for Quality Schools campaign announced that Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) has endorsed the Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016. The measure, which will appear on the November 2016 ballot, is a $9 billion state school facilities bond to adequately fund K-12 and community college school construction and modernization projects throughout the state. Prior to being elected to the California State Legislature, Senator Fuller dedicated over three decades of her life to education – serving much of her career as Superintendent of the largest K-8 school district in California.
“The current school facility financing program is critical for many smaller and rural school districts that cannot adequately raise the funds needed to build and modernize schools for their students,” said Senator Fuller. “By passing the school bond in November, the state will continue to invest in creating modern, safe schools that are equipped to help 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. 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 fund to provide matching dollars to school districts that have already raised local funds for school construction projects has been 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.