California Announces Major Funding

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Tom Torlakson, California state superintendent of public instruction made an announcement last week that will greatly benefit school districts in the state.

Under the leadership of Torlakson, the State Allocation Board (SAB) disbursed $383.8 million for new school construction and modernization projects across 110 school districts, county offices of education and charter schools statewide. The SAB meets monthly to allocate state matching funds for the construction of new classrooms and the modernization of existing schools and to consider policies and regulations regarding SAB programs. The funds allocated by the SAB are from voter-approved general obligation bonds that cannot be used for school operational expenses.

Torlakson has been voicing the need for the state to improve education for quite some time, and in 2011 his administration commissioned the Schools of the Future Initiative, which brings to light the importance school construction has on education. The goals for the Schools of the Future Initiative are to bring modern facilities to districts, which include energy-efficient upgrades and the establishment of science and career technology education to guide the establishment of a 21st century learning environment.

With the recent announcement of funds being distributed to school districts in the state, Torlakson hopes it will strengthen education as a whole for California.

“Our schools play a key role in California’s future,” said Torlakson in a statement. “These new funds provide vital assistance to local districts in the construction and rebuilding of schools, creating jobs in the community, and providing better opportunities to students for a successful future.”

The funding will provide apportionments for 196 projects for 90 school districts in the state. School districts were asked to submit their funding requests in 2012 and from there the SAB was able to allocate funds accordingly to the eligible schools.

Currently, there are $524.6 million in apportionment requests, which exceeds the amount available in proposition funding (amount available is $383.8 million). The school districts that received the funding mainly were interested in modernization — 139 applications out of 196. The bulk of the funding, $281.6 million, went to the 65 districts in need of modernization. New construction came in second, in terms of number of applications and districts — 35 applications and 24 districts, but the dollar amount, $30.2 million was less than what is being distributed to the 10 applicants and five districts in need of an overcrowding relief grant — total amount of funding is $60.3 million. Other types of funding include those for new construction-closeout, design-modernization, career tech-new construction, and career tech-rehabilitation and facility hardship-rehabilitation.

Of the districts receiving funds are three Novato schools including $1.5 million for San Marin High School, $718,575 for Novato High School and $796,588 awarded to San Ramon Elementary. Other districts located throughout the state were announced last week as well.