School construction costs may fall entirely on home builders

(Calif.) For the first time ever, home builders throughout California could be required to pony up the lion’s share of new school construction if a long-neglected state grant fund is formally declared exhausted.

Hoping to head off that action, lawmakers who oversee school facility funding may seek a budget appropriation that would create a loan program in the short term and avoid saddling the economically critical housing industry with a costly new burden.

School officials, however, say time is running out.

“Our bottom line message to you is we need help in Fremont,” Superintendent Jim Morris told panel members, who set policy and approve financial decisions for the School Facility Program. “We have in our school district today over 2,000 students who, on a daily basis, are overloaded out of their neighborhood school and sent any place that we have space available. We currently are out of classrooms in Fremont. We have no space left.”

The discussion comes at a critical juncture for many school districts across California, facing burgeoning student enrollment at a time when the Brown administration has sought to scale back the state’s role in funding school construction and repair. Brown has thwarted several legislative attempts in recent years to place before voters a school construction bond – needed to replenish the School Facility Program, which matches district contributions to build new schools and provides up to 40 percent of the cost of modernization projects.

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