Editorial by Eric Hall, President and Founder of EH&A
EH&A along with the Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) has worked tirelessly over the years to convince legislators of the need for new school construction as well as modernization of existing facilities. Californians previously voted on a school facilities bond measure in 2016, which passed with 55 percent of the vote. The bond measure, titled Proposition 51, issued $7 billion for K-12 education facilities and $2 billion for colleges.
We are pleased to see the School and College Facilities Bond is on the ballot in California as a legislatively referred bond question on March 3, 2020. I am still not sure if it is good news or bad news that it has officially been named Proposition 13, but it is what it is. Now the hard work for all of us begins.
It is a big job to convince voters that the need exists
or this bond. They will know that a “yes” vote supports this measure to authorize $15 billion in general obligation bonds for school and college facilities, including $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities, and $2 billion for community colleges. What they won’t know, unless we tell them, is exactly where this money will be spent in their local communities.
Proposition 13 is designed to distribute bond revenue as follows:
The measure will tell voters that Proposition 13 requires state officials to consider several factors when determining which modernization and construction applications to prioritize, such as projects to address earthquake risks, districts with financial hardships, remediation of lead in water, and severe overcrowding.
What they won’t read in the measure is how desperately their local schools need these funds to make certain their children are learning in safe, modern classrooms. They won’t see how these funds will purchase vital health and safety improvements, including removing mold and asbestos from classrooms and lead from drinking water in schools that could be just a block away.
If you are working for a school District, I strongly recommend that you and your administrative team begin educating your local voters on the importance of passing Proposition 13 in the March Primary ballot. If you are working in the private sector supporting school districts, please consider speaking with your clients and also financially supporting the bond measure. Time is short and because of the holidays, we have less than 100 days until voters receive their absentee ballots.
All of the Proposition 51 new construction and modernization funds have been committed for already submitted project applications. Proposition 13 needs to pass in order to fund the new projects schools need.
Here is a way to begin- CASH has created a template for a School Board Resolution. It is very important to show the state your community supports state matching funds for your district facility projects. Take the time to download the template and weave your local projects into the text of the resolution. The time is now; please don’t delay taking immediate action.