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Torlakson Announces “Small School District Assistance Initiative” for State School Bonds

February 13, 2017

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on February 8 that the California Department of Education (CDE) is offering a new “Small School District Assistance Initiative” to help small and rural school districts apply for state school bond funds.

California voters in November 2016 approved Proposition 51, which will provide $9 billion in state school bond funds for construction and modernization.

Prop. 51 is the latest in a series of state school bonds approved since 1998, but about 100 of the state’s 1,025 public school districts have never applied for bond funding. Small and rural districts often don’t have the staff or resources available to apply, even if they need to build new schools or upgrade aging school buildings, Torlakson said.

“We want to get small and rural schools in line for Prop. 51 funding and build modern school facilities that will help students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said.

Torlakson spoke on February 8 to the Assembly Education Committee, which conducted a hearing at the State Capitol about streamlining the school bond funding and construction process. Torlakson told Committee members that the CDE School Facilities and Transportation Services Division created the Small School District Assistance Initiative.

Team members can help school districts prepare applications, navigate the bond process, and provide technical assistance. For example, the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District (Santa Barbara County) recently contacted CDE for assistance because the district is eligible for $7 million in Prop. 51 funding. The District has just over 1,000 students. California has a total of 6.2 million public school students attending more than 10,000 schools.

Schools are eligible for state construction bond funds if they don’t have enough space for current or uture students. School buildings at least 25 years old are eligible for modernization funding. In most cases, local schools must contribute matching funds raised through local school bond measures.

Source:  California Department of Education

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