In a world of growing complexity, the job of a school district administrator has now been made more difficult. Staggering new requirements highlight a higher bar for obtaining a district’s share of state facility funds. These new requirements include audit guidelines, an upfront grant agreement, and short periods of applying for the funds followed by immense gulfs of time before funds arrive.
Last November, 55 percent of California voters passed Proposition 51 authorizing $9 billion in school facility bonds to help districts build new schools and complete critical renovations on aging campuses. A year after voters passed Proposition 51 the state has sold about 4 percent of the $9 billion approved.
As the first state bond in more than 10 years, Proposition 51 is a drop in the bucket toward expansion, renovation, upgrade and new construction needs for California’s schools. In fact, it’s estimated that over nine times that amount ($64 billion) would be needed to address California’s crumbling school infrastructure over just the next five years.
Today’s need is real: 70 percent of California classrooms are more than 25 years old, and 40 percent are more than 50 years old. Most campuses urgently need enormous repair work – electrical/plumbing systems, security upgrades, digital infrastructure, and career technical education facility modifications.
Voters value education and understand the importance of quality school facilities. They also believe the state is an important investment partner. It’s the opinion of all of us at EH&A that it is time for Governor Brown and the state administration to respect the will of the voters and partner with school districts to provide the kind of learning environment our students need. At least release these meager funds so we can begin the process!
All districts should aggressively pursue state matching funds through the SFP for their bond program. Doing this will allow their allocated funds to go further and the community will see that you have done all that you can to be effective and frugal. However, districts must make all haste to prepare SFP documents in order to have applications approved for eligibility and then for eventual funding (a two-step process).
EH&A stands ready to assist districts with this process and help them better understand the complexities of the SFP. Team members at EH&A are considered California’s thought leaders on the State School Facility Program, as well other administrative school services. We can help district leaders navigate through the maze of requirements quickly and efficiently. Call our offices now at 760.602.9352 or visit us on the web at http://www.erichallassociates.com.