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Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

2024 Election $10 Billion K-12 Community College Bond Act

If passed it would be the first such school construction bond to succeed in the state since 2016

By Evan Symon, April 27, 2023 2:45 am

A bill to place a proposition on the 2024 ballot over a $10 billion bond in state matching funds for K-12 and California Community College new school construction and modernization was passed in the Assembly Higher Education Committee on Wednesday.

Assembly Bill 247, authored by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), would specifically put the bill, also known as the Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2024, as a state obligation bond act proposition in the 2024 election.

If approved by voters, over $10 billion in state matching funds would go to K-12 and California Community College Districts throughout the state. The Department of General Services would collect all applications from school and college districts, with request information going to the California Department of Education. Funds would then be allocated for the following:

  • Replacement of school buildings that are at least 50 years old
  • Specified assistance to school districts with a school facility located on a military installation
  • Testing and remediation of lead levels in water fountains and faucets used for drinking or preparing food on school sites
  • Construction and modernization for seismic mitigation purposes and certain health and safety projects
  • Establish school site-based infrastructure to provide broadband internet access.

In addition, AB 247 would increase the maximum level of total bonding capacity that a school district could have in order to be eligible for financial hardship assistance under the act from $5,000,000 to $15,000,000. The bill, commencing in the 2025–26 fiscal year, would increase that $15,000,000 maximum by a specified inflation adjustment. The bill would also authorize the State Allocation Board to provide assistance for purposes of procuring interim housing to school districts and county offices of education impacted by a natural disaster for which the Governor has declared a state of emergency.

Assemblyman Muratsuchi wrote the bill due to a need for new schools and modernization efforts. In a press release this week, Muratsuchi said that “30 percent of the state’s K-12 classrooms are over 50 years old and 10 percent are over 70 years old. Californians face critical school facility needs, including transitional kindergarten (TK) and early childhood education, natural disaster response, universal high-speed internet access, lead abatement, and extreme heat and other climate change adaptation.”

Current estimates also show that around $100 billion in new K-12 construction and modernization could currently be needed within ten years. Community colleges have a projected $42 billion similar need over ten years. While new home purchases and housing developments often provide the funds for new school construction  and modernization efforts, many have noted that it is a huge burden to put on the rapidly climbing housing market in the state.

In the last decade, only one successful state school facilities bond, Proposition 51, was approved by voters in the November 2016 election. The amount was similar to the figure for AB 247, with $9 billion going to K-12 and Community Colleges facilities. However, local bonds for construction and modernization have passed regularly since then, with 70% of bonds worth roughly $20 billion being passed by school district voters in 2022.

AB 247 passes second committee 10-0

On Wednesday, the bill passed 10-0 in the Assembly Higher Education Committee following an Education Committee passing vote earlier this month. Muratsuchi noted after the vote that “California needs a statewide school facilities bond to invest in our children to meet 21st century educational needs. According to the California Department of Education, 30 percent of the state’s K-12 classrooms are over 50 years old and 10 percent are over 70 years old. Californians face critical school facility needs, including transitional kindergarten (TK) and early childhood education, natural disaster response, universal high-speed internet access, lead abatement, and extreme heat and other climate change adaptation.”

Assemblywoman Lori Wilson (Photo:a11.asmdc.org)

Assemblywoman Lori Wilson added that “Without bond or budget investments into our school facilities, the costs associated with school construction and maintenance are typically passed onto new developments and new home purchases. This can further exasperate the cost of housing in an already expensive market.”

However, while praised by many in the Committee, some have said that AB 247 still faces a tough Senate and Assembly vote due to questions over local school district involvement, a growing California voter apathy for schools measures, and a large push for renovation and upgrades over new construction.

“A lot of districts want a shiny new school, but all of these ‘older’ schools are still perfectly functional,” explained Nick Reed, an education building consultant, to the Globe on Wednesday. “Nationwide, new school construction has been delayed or even completely stopped due to the community pushing to keep schools and simply renovate them. Renovation can be more expensive, but when new land costs are figured in, along with all the legal hassles associated with it, it’s actually quite cheaper.

“And here’s the kicker. Rural areas routinely turn down school bonds, even though they still have ample land for a new school. Urban area meanwhile, with little available land, keep pushing for new schools. Try and build new in LA or San Francisco or Oakland. You almost always have to wait when an older building comes down, and even then, you hope you beat other civic projects and developers to the punch.”

“The bill may seem popular now, but voters have proven to be pretty fickle. Plus it’s far from a done deal of even being on the ballot.”

AB 247 is expected to be heard in upcoming Assembly committees soon.

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One thought on “2024 Election $10 Billion K-12 Community College Bond Act

  1. One more teacher union driven shell game, to cover over their own fiscal malfeasance .

    Prop 98 guarantees 50% of all state general revenues automatically going to K-12
    (90% K-12 + 10%community colleges).

    The state general fund is obviously taking a hit after Democrats are working so hard to destroy the state’s economy. Their first priority is teacher-union driven contracts to the educational establishment must be paid in full. So of course they need this new bond issue now to backfill what they already took for themselves.

    Their long-standing solution has always been to take the money for their own personnel demands first from the infrastructure, building and maintenance reserve accounts. Always accompanied by their chronic wail……. you care more about buildings, than you do people.

    Taxpayers of course get hit again to make up this difference. The teacher unions demands to fund it all – pay the promised union raises and pensions as promised. Then make the taxpayers fund all the rest of it, even on top of the Prop 98 guarantee already generously funding “education” .

    Heads we win; tails you lose – the teacher union mantra.

    Be ready for the following standard teacher union arguments to get this bond issue passed:
    1. We are underpaid
    2. We are overworked
    3. We are under-appreciated
    4. Our morale is bad
    5. We can’t do better until you give us more money

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