SACRAMENTO – Today Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, introduced AB 882 and AB 912 to hold local school districts more accountable and protect taxpayer dollars.
AB 882 will prohibit school districts from using voter approved school construction bond funds to purchase non-facility related items that have a short usable life, while still taking decades to pay the bond debt. Many school districts have embarked on new technology programs but are turning to construction bonds to pay for internet infrastructure and iPads. Long-term funds are intended for long-term purposes.
“It is important that school construction bond funds be used for school facilities, and not for things like iPads or other items that will be obsolete in a few years. I can't think of anyone who would take out a 30 year loan to buy a laptop,” Wilk said. “AB 882 ensures future school construction bond funds are used for long-lasting improvements to our children's schools.”
In 2013, the Los Angeles Unified School District purchased thousands of iPads, which cost taxpayers $500 million. These iPads have an estimated usable life of only 5 years.
Nonetheless, education without access to technology is unthinkable today. School districts must buy more technology; students would be left woefully behind the college-and-employment curve without it. Identifying an appropriate funding source should be a top priority but using 30 year bond funds on portable electronics is not the answer.
Another bill Wilk introduced was AB 912 to ensure that for all debt secured by real property is disclosed by school districts to the County Auditor and County Superintendent of Schools.
The benefit to both local school boards and the general public is that there is time for disclosure of all debt and the opportunity for review before the debt is approved. The 30 day requirement will ensure additional transparency before additional long-term commitments are made.