Proposition 13 would authorize $15 billion for construction and modernization of school and college facilities in California. It includes $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools and $6 billion for California’s public higher education system. The funds will be split evenly among the 114 community colleges, the 23-campus California State University and the 10 campuses of the University of California.
Proceeds from state school bonds are a supplement to local school bonds, which provide most of the funding for construction and modernization of K-12 schools, along with developer fees, which make up a small portion (about 5 percent) of overall funding for school facilities.
This measure addresses a number of equity-related issues in the School Facilities Program, provides technical support for smaller school districts, and sets aside money to test for and remove lead from school drinking water. Notably, for the first time in California’s history, a state bond measure makes funding available for school district-run preschools and requires school districts to submit a five-year facility master plan as a condition of receiving bond funding.
This measure also addresses issues of seismic deficiencies, fire and safety, and critically deferred maintenance in laboratories, dormitories and classrooms on the 147 campuses of California’s public higher education institutions. Finally, prior to receiving funds, the California State University and the University of California must adopt a five-year affordable student housing plan for each campus.
All children in California deserve school facilities in good repair and equipped to provide students with a 21st century education. Across the state, there is a massive need for modernization of old and construction of new educational facilities. This measure would supplement local bond funds and includes provisions that prioritize aid to districts with lower local resources or greater need.
Public education is of fundamental interest to California and is a state constitutional guarantee. A quality public education is also fundamental to fulfilling the League’s mission of encouraging informed and active participation in government and increased understanding of major public policy issues. A safe, secure, and modern learning environment can be a powerful foundation for a child’s education. But California’s schools are aging and need critical upgrades to meet current health and safety standards. Chronic underfunding leaves most public-school communities unable to adequately address their needs, increasing the danger of greater disparities among them.
The League has a consistent history of supporting public education facilities bond measures. It has long been understood that no single facilities bond measure could meet the needs of public-school facilities infrastructure and that a series of bond measures, with requirements for local matching funds and provisions to assist poorer districts, would be needed. It has been four years since the last statewide facilities bond was passed by the voters.
Since the creation of the School Facilities Program in 1998, voters have approved $42 billion in state general obligation bonds for K-12 school facilities. All new construction and modernization bond authority from previous bond measures has been exhausted. As of November 2019, the state has received applications from schools for more than $1 billion in state matching funds above what voters have authorized. These applications were submitted to the state under the current program to make safety repairs, complete seismic renovations, build new schools, and make technology improvements.
Local education agencies (such as school districts and county offices of education) are eligible for modernization funding based on the age of buildings. Permanent buildings become eligible after 25 years, with special priority given to buildings after 50 years. Portable buildings become eligible after 20 years. Estimates are that California schools should be investing over $11 billion per year in modernization and new construction over the next decade.