by Andrea Ball, Legislative Advocate
Legislative action to authorize a new state school facilities bond for the November 2014 ballot passed the Assembly Education Committee April 9. Assembly Bill 2235, Buchanan, D-Alamo, would set before voters the Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2014 which would provide funding—in an amount currently unspecified—for new school construction. The bill also makes specific changes to the state’s School Facility Program. The measure received bipartisan support with a 7-0 vote.
CSBA and a wide array of school districts, community colleges, and labor, building trades and business groups support the bill. There was no opposition. CSBA’s letter summarized the reasons for support:
- First, the state program has run out of project funding. Proposition 1D funds for the construction and modernization of K-12 school facilities projects have been exhausted since July and May, 2012, respectively.
- Second, there is projected future pupil enrollment growth in many districts and we will need new schools to house those students. School districts also are working to rehabilitate aging school facilities to ensure that they are safe and updated. The Office of Public School Construction estimates future need for K-12 new construction and modernization at over $16 billion.
- Finally, state school bond funds are not only critical and beneficial to schools but they are beneficial to the economy. The infrastructure dollars will generate thousands of construction-related jobs.
The bill will is scheduled to be heard next on Tuesday, April 22 in the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
On April 11 the Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report focusing on maintenance of existing infrastructure at elementary and secondary schools, the state special schools, community colleges, the California State University and the University of California: “Maintaining Education Facilities in California.” The report provides discussion of the governor’s 2014-15 proposals for maintenance of facilities and critiques the proposed funding of $188 million for the Emergency Repair Program. The LAO also states concerns with the state’s overall approach to maintaining education facilities. For K-12 schools, the LAO recommends the state hold schools accountable for maintaining facilities via the Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control and Accountability Plans. The report notes that should evidence emerge that many schools are failing to dedicate sufficient funds to maintain their facilities, the state could consider imposing additional spending requirements in the future.