The Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016, or Proposition 51, is a really big name for, “Let’s help better educate our kids”!
On November 8, 2016, California voters will be faced with the decision to support a State-wide facility bond to continue funding the construction and modernization of K-12 and Community College projects throughout the State. Proposition 51 will provide $9 billion to fund school construction and modernization projects throughout California and provide for improved learning environments for nearly a half-million K-12 students and over two million community college students.
The last school facilities bond was passed by voters in 2006 and has been all but depleted. The state’s fund to provide matching dollars to school districts that have already raised local funds for school construction projects has been allocated, leaving a backlog of more than $2.5 billion in school facilities applications, with more than $20 billion in identified need over the next ten years.
While some may argue that the State should not be funding school construction, California has a constitutional obligation through the Leroy F. Greene School Facilities Act (School Facilities Program), established in 1998, to provide safe secure schools. Local school districts are required to participate in a funding partnership with the State to match State funds to help maximize taxpayer investment. Local school districts have been doing their part. It is time for the State to catch up. Prop 51 does not change this partnership and further maintains school district authority to levy developer fees and other participation contributions to ensure they pay their fair share of the costs to build and maintain schools.
Since the inception of the School Facilities Program, California’s successful partnership between local school districts and the State has overseen the construction of safe and secure classrooms for over 1.3 million students and modernized facilities for over 3.4 million more. Passing Proposition 51 will allow this vital program to continue and local districts will have the ability to upgrade aging facilities to meet current health and safety standards and educational needs. It will also allow communities to invest in community college facilities that support job-training programs, more classrooms with natural lighting and ventilation, better acoustics and provide for critical 21st century project-based learning space desperately needed to respond to the changing needs of today’s youth and career opportunities.
Please join Nacht & Lewis in endorsing Proposition 51 and visiting your polling place on November 8th.