John R. Beckman: California needs school bond

07/31/2014 3:35 PM

07/31/2014 11:58 PM

The importance of education cannot be overstated. Updating and modernizing existing schools and building new schools will help us improve literacy rates, employment rates and help keep kids away from gangs and drugs. During the Great Recession, school districts cut deeply into routine maintenance and slashed technology upgrades. Many K-12 schools have since deteriorated, leaving students in facilities that disrupt learning. Children benefit tremendously from repairing deteriorating classrooms. Modernization is how the latest technology reaches the classroom.

A well-educated and skilled workforce is essential to the Valley’s long-term economic prosperity.

California has historically partnered with local school districts to share funding for construction, renovation and modernization. When a local school district passes a bond measure, the district becomes eligible for matching funds from the state. But the state hasn’t passed a statewide bond since 2006. Unless a statewide school bond is approved, the state won’t be able to match local bond funds – meaning communities like ours will have to come up with all of the financing.

We are overdue for the kind of comprehensive investment and economic boost such a bond would initiate. AB 2235, the statewide school bond bill, has bipartisan support but has not yet been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Ask Gov. Brown to sign AB 2235 so California voters can vote to fund school construction.

John R. Beckman, CEO, BIA of the Greater Valley, Stockton

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