By Charles Heath, Partner, TBWB Strategies
With school bond measures continuing to pass with strong voter support in the 2012 elections, it’s not too early to start thinking about your next opportunity to access voter-approved funding for facilities, equipment, furnishings, technology, and more. Proposition 39, the law allowing schools and colleges to pass bond measures at 55%, limits these bond elections to regularly scheduled election dates.
Many communities around the state hold local elections in November 2013, making this date a viable election date for a bond measure. Districts hoping to take advantage of a 2013 election have until the first week in August to adapt a resolution calling for the election and establishing the specifics of the measure. Given this timeline, districts targeting a 2013 ballot should be well into their facility and financial planning process at this point.
Additionally, all California school districts have the opportunity to call bond elections in June and November of 2014. A careful analysis of the projected voter turnout and competing issues on these ballots can help guide an individual school district to a ballot that optimizes the chances for success given the unique set of issues in a given community. This political analysis along with a thorough needs assessment should begin soon to allow for proper planning and to keep all available election dates available. Furthermore, districts may want to consider creative options for using bond funds to reduce ongoing maintenance, utility, and technology costs. These savings can prove essential as California schools continue to deal with the impacts of consecutive years of state funding reductions.