$10 Billion School Bond Approved for Ballot

A controversial $10 billion school construction bond is headed for the ballot in November following Monday’s Senate Education Committee hearing. Despite charges of unfairness, the measure was approved by a unanimous vote in the form of Assembly Bill 247.

Over $8 billion would go toward renovation efforts on K-12 campuses. The rest would be used to renovate community colleges.

CalMatters explains the rub:

Everyone agrees on the need for money to fix dry rot and build new science labs. But some superintendents, as well as the civil rights law firm Public Advocates, had been pushing for a more equitable way to distribute the money. Currently, the state doles out facilities funding through 50-50 matching grants, which means that districts that can raise a lot of money locally — typically, higher-income areas — can get more state money.

Public Advocates has threatened to sue California if it doesn’t adopt a wider sliding scale for distributing the money. The current deal does include a sliding scale, but it’s only from 60% to 65%, not the 5% to 90% that Public Advocates wanted. Under the deal’s scale, the state’s wealthiest districts would only get slightly less than its poorest.

Also under the current proposal, schools could get more money if they hire union contractors for their construction projects. That gives an edge to urban areas where union labor is easier to find.”

Public Advocates has expressed disappointment. They say districts with the highest property values will still benefit the most, while smaller districts and those with the least wealthy students will be harmed. 

Gary Hardie, Jr., a school board member at Lynwood Unified, and a representative of the California Association of Black School Educators, called the measure “unfair” and “morally unacceptable.”

The measure is supported by the California School Boards Association.

“We’re more than sympathetic to the needs of small districts,” said association spokesperson Troy Flint. “But times are tight, and we feel it’s crucial to get a school bond on the ballot. … It’s not what we need, but it’s what we could get. Now we have to focus on getting it passed, for the health and safety of California students.”

A companion bill, AB 2831, would increase relief for small and low-income districts if the school bond passes.

Read more here.  


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Tuesday, July 2, 2024 - 13:41

A controversial $10 billion school construction bond is headed for the ballot in November following Monday’s Senate Education Committee hearing.