On Election Day, California voters approved all three education-related initiatives on the ballot.
Proposition 51, $9 billion in school bonds for K-12 and community college facilities, Proposition 55, extension of personal income tax increase to fund education and healthcare, and Proposition 58, bilingual education in public schools, all passed with a majority.
Teachers, administrators and school officials across the state believe the adoption of these three initiatives will make a difference in California education at both the local and state level.
“Together these ballot measures will help our education system move forward so we can better serve our students and prepare them for 21st century careers and college,” said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, in a statement.
When the final ballots were counted, Prop 51 passed with 54 percent of the vote, or 4,671,418.
The proposition is the first school bond measure on the ballot since 2006.
Out of the $9 billion in bonds, $3 million is for K-12 school construction, $3 billion is for K-12 school modernization, $500 million is for charter schools, $500 is for career technical education facilities and $2 billion is for community colleges.
It’s too early to tell whether Santa Clarita schools will see the benefit of the bond package.
“What’s before us is that there are a lot of schools in districts in California that are on a waiting list, so we have to wait and see what the state is going to do in terms of giving up those funds,” said Dave Caldwell, public relations officer for the William S. Hart Union School District.
Caldwell said that the state release of these funds to local schools depends on where the district is on the list in relation to other schools throughout California waiting to receive state funds.
Lee Morrell, public relations officer for the Saugus Union School District, said the sentiment is the same for schools within SUSD.
“It is too early to tell,” he said. “Obviously we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to improve our schools and facilities with that.”
In Santa Clarita, schools have seen construction and facility improvements through local measures and bonds like Measure E and Measure M.
The $9 billion bond from Prop 51 is expected to be paid for throughout 35 years at a total cost of $17.6 billion.
Out of all three education propositions, Prop 55 received the most publicity and education-backed support during campaign season.
The proposition passed by 62.1 percent, or 5,360,377 votes. It extends 2012’s Prop 30, which raised personal income taxes on high-income earners to fund schools and healthcare, to 2030.
According to the ballot measure, the tax will raise $4 billion to $9 billion annually from 2019 to 2030.
Morrell said the passage of Prop 55 was “a must” to continue funding elements in the district that are currently being funded by Prop 30.
“It’s more about continuing to get the money and not losing it,” he said. “I had so many conversations with people over the week about Prop 51 and Prop 55…. it’s the continuation of an income tax on a certain tax bracket and it has proven to be valuable.”
College of the Canyons
The prop also affects funding going to community colleges to support programs and prevent budget cuts.
Prop 30’s funding was “critical” to the survival of College of the Canyon’s following the Great Recession, according to Eric Harnish, COC’s vice president of public information, advocacy and external relations.
“Since prop 30 passed the college has received $46.4 million in revenue that has gone directly into the classroom,” he said. “I think when you look at the election results it’s clear that California voters value education and see that as a priority.”
Prop 55 will continue to fund faculty at the college and support the state’s Education Protection Account which was established in 2012 following Prop 30.
Schools statewide will soon see the implementation of bilingual and multilingual education due to Prop 58.
The education proposition received the most support out of all three ballot measures, which received 72.4 percent of votes in favor, or 6,257,044 votes.
Prop 58 repeals Proposition 227, English in Public Schools initiative, an 18-year-old law that required schools to only teach in English unless parents presented a waiver stating otherwise.
Now, schools can individually decide how to approach bilingual education.
In the Santa Clarita Valley, district representatives are uncertain of how much the proposition will change school programs because schools already offer bilingual education programs that are working for their students.
“We already have a great program in place,” Caldwell said. “We have a great program as it is with our English language learners and long-term English language learners.”
Morrell said the multilingual system in place in the Saugus District is also a success and is unsure of what an impact, if any, the proposition will make.
“I don’t think it’s going to affect us very much because our system works really well,” he said. “We see our students really meshing well with all classrooms.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_