Ed. Note: This opinion piece was submitted for consideration by Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger and school board President Brian Walter.
For years California has had a model school facility program that is a partnership between the state, local school districts and developers to share funding for new school construction and classroom renovation.
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When the voters in a local school district pass a school bond measure, the district becomes eligible to receive matching grant funds from the state.
Over the last few years the school districts of the Santa Clarita Valley have been successful in securing voter approval of bonds such as Newhall School District’s Measure E.
We have planned for projects based on the possibility of state match grants. In Newhall we planned conservatively so that projects which are most critical, such as replacing aging portable classrooms with permanent construction, could move forward with Measure E bond funds, while expansions of project scope and projects at other sites were contingent on the receipt of state match funds.
We would like to be able to accomplish everything we planned – but only state matching funds can allow us to stretch our local dollars into other still-needed projects.
Unfortunately, the state hasn’t passed a statewide bond since 2006, and the program funds are now depleted. Unless a new statewide school bond measure is approved, many communities like ours are going to be restricted to the minimum completion of projects we envisioned for our students.
Local voters who supported Measure E lose on the promise of “more bang for the buck” of state match funds.
What’s more, if we don’t continue this successful partnership, the potential of thousands of construction jobs will be lost, jeopardizing California’s recovery from the Great Recession.
We’re proud of the fact that Newhall’s bond dollars have helped to fuel the economy by using employing hundreds of construction industry workers.
Statewide, voters have shown time and again that they will invest in their schools, and they deserve an opportunity to vote on the issue.
Our state Legislature must pass, and Governor Brown must sign, AB 2235, a bill that will put the school bond on the November ballot, allowing the voters to decide.
Failing to do so limits NSD’s ability to complete all that we wanted to accomplish for our kids, to provide modernized and beautiful community schools that enhance home values, and could potentially damage our recovery economy by not generating local construction jobs.
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Source: Santa Clarita News