Not only did voters approve the state’s borrowing of $9 billion for school construction, but they also added on $23 billion in local bonds.
Voters in 184 K-12 and community college districts throughout California considered local school bonds worth more than $25 billion – and approved $23 billion of them.
An additional 15 school districts passed new or extended existing parcel taxes. A few more parcel tax and bond measures may squeak by after all the votes are recounted. Michael Coleman, fiscal policy adviser for the League of California Cities, compiled the preliminary results.
Together with other proposed municipal taxes, California considered 430 tax and bond measures on Tuesday — by far the largest number on the ballot since the 2006 gubernatorial election, Coleman reported.
All but a half-dozen of the 184 school bond measures needed 55 percent of voter approval for passage. The 92 percent passage rate — 164 of 178 measures — was higher than the average 81 percent passage rate since 1981, Coleman said.
The remaining six districts needed a two-thirds majority for approval because they already owe a high level of debt. Only two of those measures passed.
Districts that passed construction bonds will potentially be eligible for a piece of the state construction bond funding, mostly on a first-come, first-served basis. The state will match dollar-for-dollar new construction projects and pay 60 percent of the cost of modernization and renovation projects.
Passage rates on Tuesday ranged from 86 percent in the Mountain View School District in the San Francisco Bay Area for a $35 million bond to 55 percent for a $12 million measure in the Evergreen School District in San Jose. Capistrano Unified voters rejected the biggest bond, $889 million, with only 44.6 percent of voters saying yes. In a half-dozen districts, bonds were defeated by less than 1 percent of the 55 percent threshold.
Parcel taxes — a uniform tax on property that provides districts with extra operating revenue — require a two-thirds voter approval for passage. On Tuesday, 15 of 22 districts passed them. That’s 68 percent, higher than the historic average of 61 percent, according to Coleman’s data. They included a $223 tax in the Los Altos School District in the Bay Area, $120 in Oakland Unified specifically to support middle school programs, and $59 for the Arcata School District in Humboldt County.
All seven parcel taxes that failed got at least 57 percent of the vote — that was in Kentfield School District, in Marin County, where voters said no to a $1,600 parcel tax. San Jose Unified, seeking its first parcel tax, came up 1.3 percentage points shy of the needed 66.7 percent for a $72 parcel tax, though a significant percentage of votes have not been counted in that county.