California's economic recovery is progressing, and it is important to keep our schools and housing in pace with the improving economy by approving new school construction and modernization bonds. Failing to do so risks leaving our schools behind and choking the fragile housing recovery.
Mountain House High School, a local school built through a partnership between the Lammersville Unified School District, local developers, and the state school construction program is one recent example of the success of our state school facilities program.
It is a beautiful school in a district that has the highest test scores in San Joaquin County. The new school also is in a community that had the highest percentage of underwater mortgages in the nation in 2008. The people of Mountain House are remarkably resilient and take great pride in their community, but it is the quality of their schools that sells their homes.
There are Mountain House stories through our state. Some are about new schools built in emerging communities. Others are about schools that have been rehabilitated to provide safe, positive learning environments. The quality of school facilities makes a difference.
Research demonstrates that clean air, natural light, regulated temperatures and quiet, safe learning environments can dramatically boost academic and social outcomes for children. Districts also are working integrate technology into the classroom to prepare our students for the changing workforce.
All of these projects rely on the state, local school districts and developers being equal partners. The last state school construction bond was passed in 2006, and the program has been out of funds for over two years. This partnership is in danger if we do not pass a new bond.
That is why Assembly member Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, and I jointly authored AB 2235, which places a school facilities bond on the November 2014 ballot.
As members of the State Allocation Board, which oversees the disbursement of school facilities funding, we spent more than a year reviewing the current program and studying future needs. We are convinced that the failure to pass a bond will result in severe consequences to public schools and new housing development projects throughout the state.
New school construction and modernization projects will be delayed or abandoned. Developers may halt new construction projects that depend on school funding applications that have been submitted to the state awaiting new funds. Construction jobs will be lost.
AB 2235 has the support of the California State Chamber of Commerce, the California Building Industry Association, the Association of General Contractors the State Construction Building Trades Association, and every major education organization in the state.
Rarely do all of these organizations agree. Yet, they all understand the importance of education to our economy, and they understand the ability of housing to lead our economic recovery.
It's time for the state to hold up its share of the partnership. We must pass AB 2235 to continue the progress we have made, allowing communities like Mountain House to recover, new construction to stimulate our economy, and our schools to provide the technology and learning environments necessary for every child to succeed.
Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, and Curt Hagman, R-CHino Hills, are members of the California Assembly.