The 2022 election cycle has come to a close. In many California communities, voters were asked to support local K-12 school bonds. For districts whose bond measures passed, this is roll-up-the-sleeves time. As experienced program managers (PMs), VPCS has seen many school districts through this process, providing guidance and support to ensure a smooth process within our clients’ communities.
At VPCS, we follow best practices in everything we do. When it comes time to help school districts implement strategies after local bond measures pass, here are some of the keys to our advice:
Form your citizens’ bond oversight committee (CBOC).
If your district passed a Proposition 39 bond, which requires 55% of the vote to pass, California law requires that you form a CBOC. If yours was a Proposition 47 bond, which can pass with only 67% percent of the vote, CBOCs are not legally stipulated – but are still highly recommended. Work closely with your PM team and your legal counsel to ensure that you are meeting your statutory obligations as well as your community’s needs by forming this committee and drafting its formal bylaws.
Consider your CBOC roster.
CBOCs are made up of local community members, school board representatives, district administrators and other stakeholders. Together, these individuals are responsible for ensuring that taxpayer dollars are properly allocated through the life of the bond. If your district recently passed its bond, you should immediately begin recruiting CBOC volunteer members, each of whom will need to be formally appointed by your school board. Work closely with your legal counsel to ensure your CBOC formation efforts comply with the Proposition 39 bond statute and the Ralph M. Brown Act.
Create a CBOC website.
Build a dedicated online home for your CBOC. This will be the single source of details, resources and status updates for everything related to your bond. Since there is specific language that must be used (and avoided) on CBOC sites, this is another task that should be done with the help of experienced PMs and reviewed by legal counsel.
Develop a preliminary implementation plan.
Now that you know the amount of bond funds that passed, it’s time to lay out a tiered plan that maps out how and when to put those dollars to work in your district. Of course, this means prioritizing projects based on your district’s established goals. Unfortunately, there is almost always more need than funding, so not everything can likely get accomplished. An experienced PM team can help determine how to allocate those taxpayer dollars most effectively, particularly when voters are expecting specific results based on campaign promises. Implementation plans are living documents that can and should be updated at least annually to ensure that they still align with board priorities, community expectations, legislative requirements, etc.
Start some projects.
Depending on the size of your bond, your larger projects may take some time to get off the ground. However, you can always dive right in with smaller elements of your plan to show your community that you’re hitting the ground running. Improve a stretch of frontage, repaint a building or make a small enhancement to a campus. Do things that are needed and covered by your overall budget, but won’t get in the way of bigger projects to come. While you’re at it, post a sign that reminds your constituents that their tax dollars are already hard at work.
Establish a bond program schedule.
Create a bond program schedule that overlaps with other funding opportunities, including potential future state bonds. The Coalition for Adequate Student Housing (CASH) and the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) are both predicting that a statewide bond will hit ballots in 2024, so districts should begin tracking that potential cash flow now. This is especially critical when local bond funds fall short of a district’s total demonstrated need.
Work with experts.
Passing a bond is cause for celebration, but nothing to take lightly. With seasoned, trustworthy partners on your district’s team, you are in a stronger position to deliver what voters have asked for and students deserve. Please contact VPCS if we can be of service.
November 28, 2022