Governor Gavin Newsom Signed into law AB 48, which will let voters decide in March whether or not to approve a $15 billion dollar bond for California Schools.
According to the bill and subsequent bond measure, the $15 billion will be divested for school construction, modernization, and repair. $6 billion will go towards state universities and colleges. The California State University system, the University of California system, and state Community Colleges would get $2 billion each out of that if passed. The other $9 billion has been marked for public schools ranging from Pre-K to 12th grade.
To receive money local school districts will need to give matching funds. Schools in low income areas or those with needy children will be earmarked to receive more of the bond money.
The author of AB 48 was Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), who has had a long history in voting for bills benefiting schools. He introduced the bill as many schools in California have fallen into disrepair, with many in his own district not receiving enough funding for proper maintenance or related educational matters. Some schools in Long Beach regularly rank as some of the worst in the entire state.
“School facilities set the tone for the school day,” stated Assemblyman O’Donnell after the bill signing. “Students are more motivated to learn when their schools are safe and modern. This bond will provide funds to rehabilitate our classrooms and construct career technical education/vocational education facilities to ensure our high school graduates are prepared for jobs in the modern economy. This bond is about investing in our students’ and California’s future.”
The bill had wide support from educators, student groups, parent groups, and numerous cities around California.
There were very few detractors on the bill, mostly coming out of good school districts which wouldn’t see much of the promised bond money. Voting in the Capital was nearly unanimous in both the Senate and the Assembly.
However, Governor Newsom frequently had the bill amended prior to passage, included taking out a caveat where state assistance would be given based on which districts filled out applications first, instead of being need based. Former Governor Jerry Brown had said of a previous version of the bill that a system like that favored wealthier schools who applied early. After being amended over a dozen times and much resistance from lawmakers in districts with generally better school systems, it was finally taken out in favor of a need based system.
“The goal is self-evident,” said Governor Newsom during the signing. “You improve the conditions, you ultimately improve the quality of the educational experience.”
“None of this was easy. You have very well-endowed and well-resourced folks that like the old ways of doing business. They had to give a little, and we are grateful to them for giving a little.”
Should the bill be approved by voters in March, AB 48 would come into law in January of 2021.
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