Under existing law, school districts that participate in New Construction and Modernization programs are required to set aside at least 3% of their annual general fund budget for routine maintenance, for 20 years after receiving state funds. Under Budget Flexibility commencing in 2008-09, this requirement was suspended, but is set to return in 2015-16. Predictably, the result was that school maintenance budgets were the first to be cut and the last to be restored, if they have been restored at all. The Governor’s 2015-16 January State Budget and Proposed May Revision both include the return of the RRMA contribution in 2015-16.
On Wednesday May 20, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #2 on Education Finance, approved a staff recommendation to, “…allow for the phase in of the requirement (2% by 2017-18 and 3% by 2020-21)”. The staff recommendation also includes language to, “…allow funds to be used for drought-related purposes.” On Thursday the Senate Budget Subcommittee #1 on Education approved identical language.
The Coalition for Adequate School Housing (C.A.S.H.) was the only statewide education organization to oppose this proposal, arguing that budget flexibility has been devastating for school M&O departments. In addition, in light of significant new money for schools, the Routine Restricted Maintenance Account contribution should be fully-funded without the phase-in so schools can address critical health and safety issues on their school sites. Representatives of San Diego USD and Riverside USD testified in support of the proposal.
~ Ian Padilla