Today, the Californians for Quality Schools campaign announced that the Small School Districts’ Association (SSDA) 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 SSDA represents more than 500 small and mid-sized school districts throughout California.
“Smaller school districts across California depend upon the state’s partnership to build and modernize school facilities for their students, ” said Debra Pearson Executive Director of the Small School Districts’ Association. “The school bond will provide a stable and reliable source of funding for districts that – like many of our members – often cannot raise all of the required funds locally to adequately meet facility needs for students. That’s why we need to pass the state school facilities bond in November.”
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.