Saugus Board to review letter for Prop 51 funds

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In November 2016, California voters approved Proposition 51 that supported the issuance of $9 billion in bonds to funds the improvement and construction of school facilities.

These bond proceeds are expected to be spent by Dec. 31, 2020, but some school districts, like the Saugus Union School District, argue that these bonds are backlogged and will not be spent in time.

During its meeting Tuesday, the Saugus Governing Board is expected to join a multi-organizational letter asking the State Legislature to increase the amount of Prop 51 school bonds to be sold in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

“Proposition 51 bonds will supplement upcoming maintenance and construction projects,” Governing Board President Chris Trunkey said.  “We hope that other school districts throughout the state will send similar letters.”

Currently, $640 million school bonds are expected to be sold during the upcoming fiscal year, according to the Governor’s January Budget Proposal.

“The $640 million proposal is absolutely inadequate for a program that has a $3.2 billion backlog in complete applications ready for final processing and funding,” the letter read.  “At this rate, students will have to wait five years after a complete funding application is submitted before they can attend the new school or renovated classrooms their parents voted for in November 2016.”

The letter calls on the legislature to sell a total of $3 billion in K-12 school bonds during the upcoming fiscal year and include budget language that requires at least $3 billion in projects to be processed during the same time.

This, according to the letter, will help school districts and communities that face rising construction costs, inflation and increased interest rates during the lifetime of the bond measure.  It will also help fund applications submitted to the state through summer 2017.

“Delaying state school bond sales means less purchasing power from the effect of construction cost escalation, resulting in fewer projects,” the letter read.  “Taxpayers should not have to pay more and receive less while students wait for new schools and renovated classrooms.”

Buy funding these projects, students throughout the state will have access to updated facilities, improved classrooms and new Career Technical Education (CTE) buildings, according to the letter.

“New facilities are desperately needed in districts with population growth and aging school facilities require updates and repairs to ensure the health and safety of students,” the letter read.  “Even in districts without population growth, schools need to build and/or maintain CTE facilities to provide students alternative pathways to future careers.”

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