California school-construction needs as high as $12 billion, subcommittee reports

January 30, 2014

The following is an excerpt from an article that ran in the Sacramento Bee on Monday, January 27.  The complete article can be found at the link below:

California school-construction needs as high as $12 billion, subcommittee reports

California needs as much as $12 billion in additional school-building money and almost $5 billion in modernization money, according to estimates in a report to the state board that oversees school-construction dollars.


Voters have approved about $35 billion in school-construction and modernization bonds since 1998, most recently in 2006. But the money is nearly exhausted amid talk of crafting another school bond for a future ballot.


Officials, though, have called for changes to the state School Facility Program that awards bond funding. Last Wednesday’s report to the State Allocation Board by the subcommittee on the school facility program included recommendations to discourage the use of bond money for portable classrooms, to require districts to commit to spend money maintaining bond-funded buildings, and to conduct an inventory of all school facilities.


The report does not suggest a specific dollar amount for a future school bond. The state needs anywhere from $6 billion to $12.3 billion in school-construction dollars, according to the report, and about $4.7 billion in modernization funding.


Gov. Jerry Brown also has raised concerns about the cost to the state of borrowing to build schools. In his budget proposal earlier this month, Brown wrote that a revamped school-construction program should “avoid an unsustainable reliance on state debt issuance that characterizes the current school facilities program.”


The subcommittee included representatives of the Brown administration, schools superintendent Tom Torlakson, Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, who leads the Assembly Education Committee. Buchanan is crafting school-bond legislation for the November ballot that will reflect some of the report’s recommendations.


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