Proposition 51 will provide badly needed state grant funds to school districts all over the state, and will continue the successful School Facility Program – one of California’s most successful state and local partnerships. Proposition 51 will provide the resources necessary to ensure all of our students are given equal access to a safe, healthy learning environment. It prioritizes education by ensuring our schools are updated, repaired, refurbished and, where needed, new classrooms built to relieve overcrowding. Since 1998, school districts like ours raise local funds through a mix of local general obligation bonds and developers fees in areas of housing growth, and then can apply for matching state grant funds. What is often overlooked, however, is the significant investment local communities are required to make before applying for state funds. In the case of Scotts Valley Unified School District, if Proposition 51 doesn’t pass and the existing program disappears, we will have spent $188,000 in local funds to qualify for state funds that will not be available. I suspect our district is not alone, as the school facility program has been utilized by hundreds of districts for nearly two decades. However, funds for the program have been depleted and our K-12 schools and community colleges now face a backlog of nearly $2 billion in facility needs, and the state has identified billions more in projected need.
Scotts Valley Unified needs to complete the new construction of a middle school; Prop 51 monies would pay for rebuilding the Middle School Gymnasium! Without the passage of Prop 51, there will not be enough monies to renovate the gym and pavilion.
There are examples like this up and down the state of California – communities that have done their part to raise local funds and serve students that are now waiting for their turn to receive funding from the state under the state’s matching grant program. When new homes are built, they generate developer fees that can be used to build new schools, but renovations and repairs to aging schools must rely primarily on state and local funds. If Proposition 51 does not pass and the entire burden of school facilities is shifted to local communities – as critics suggest should happen – it will only result in an unjust scenario: the wealthy communities will have quality schools because they can afford to raise the necessary local taxes to meet their facility needs; and those communities that cannot raise the local funds will have to live with deteriorating and outdated facilities. Proposition 51 is a necessary investment in both the quality and equitable accessibility to good schools, and it does so without raising local taxes.
Proposition 51 has been endorsed by more than 160 school districts, the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the California State PTA, the California Chamber of Commerce, both the California Republican Party and the California Democratic Party and 350 other respected organizations and community leaders.
Our schools are our responsibility. Your vote will demonstrate that our community highly values the needs of students and equal access to a quality education.
Please join us in voting YES on Proposition 51 . . . our Middle School needs it and our students deserve it!
Tanya Krause, SVUSD Superintendent, in her individual capacity.