Every year, California voters vote on a variety of bonds for California schools. The presence of the school construction bond on California ballots is as regular as the sun rising. However, their approval rate is not nearly as regular, as demonstrated by this election cycle. After a long counting period due to narrow passing margins, California finally got its voting results, and they aren’t encouraging.
The good news is that California voters approved $20 billion in school construction bonds. That’s quite a lot, and it will certainly help a lot of schools shore up their aging infrastructure. The bonds will go towards a variety of improvements, including new classrooms, repairs to old classrooms, and better internet.
However, the bad news portends future struggles for California school districts. The overall passage rate for school construction bonds this year came in at just 71%. On average, California passes around 80% of its school construction bonds in a given year. This means that a few school districts will struggle to fund their necessary repairs, maintenance, and upgrades. For school districts that are already struggling to keep up, this is a serious blow.
The School Construction Bond Vote Suffers from a Misconception
There are many reasons why people may not want to approve construction bonds for schools. The biggest one is simply that people don’t want to raise their own taxes. Given that Americans have been suffering this year due to wildly varying gas prices and record inflation, it makes sense that people would prefer to keep their taxes low. Other school officials cited political polarization over issues like masking in schools as a contributing factor.
However, one of the more tragic reasons people wouldn’t approve these bonds is a simple misconception. While it’s true that California schools have record funding this year, that doesn’t mean they can use those funds for construction bonds. In fact, even if they could, it would still mean they’d need a lot more funding. With construction costs soaring due to the pandemic, even record funding for the schools may leave them struggling to maintain their facilities.