In the last 10 years, California school population, kindergarten
through 12th grade, has increased by 1 million students, topping
the 6 million mark for the first time last year. California
educates one in eight students in America, and that ratio is
decreasing as you read this.
In the last 10 years, California school population, kindergarten through 12th grade, has increased by 1 million students, topping the 6 million mark for the first time last year. California educates one in eight students in America, and that ratio is decreasing as you read this.
In order to house the estimated increase of 206,000 students in California in the next five years, schools have resorted to funding through several sources: Mello-Roos taxes, parcel taxes, state bonds, developer fees, and local bonds.
Developer fees do not cover the increasing costs of building new schools, often times providing less than 50 percent of total land and construction costs. Without some type of matching monies, building schools would come to a complete standstill, and for many districts, this has already happened.
The costs for building schools are mind numbing:
• an elementary school for 600 students costs $10 million
• a middle school for 1000 students costs $16.4 million
• a high school for 1800 students costs $38.8 million.
Gilroy is situated within a 40-mile radius of nine of the 10 least affordable places to live in the country. That is country, not county. There is a problem facing the high-growth areas of California, and Gilroy in particular, due to the extremely high costs of construction and land compared to wages.
Based upon projected data, the California Department of Education estimates that 185 elementary/middle schools (K-8) and 149 high schools (9-12) need to be built in California to accommodate the projected five-year student growth. If the schools are not built, what do we do with the students when they show up for classes?
The anti-Measure I proponents state that homeowners are already spending too much of their income on public schools, but they propose no method of funding for the increase in Gilroy’s student population. Once again, facts speak louder than rhetoric and emotion.
According to Ed-Data, Californians have more than enough personal income to fund public schools. In 1999 California ranked 10th in per capita personal income at $29,818, or $2000 above the national average. When they measured public school expenditures against personal income, California ranked 45th in the nation comparing the “capacity to pay for public schools” with the “effort to pay for public schools.”
Essentially, California, with the fifth largest economy in the world, is nearly last in supporting public education. California has not reached the national average of per pupil spending since 1976-77, and is currently $803 under the national average of $7,364. Are Gilroyans, as purported by the anti-Measure I proponents, spending too much already on public education? Statistics say no, and Ed-Data confirms that Californians could easily apply more personal income to public education.
We know Gilroy is going to grow. At what point do we as a community say that we are not going to build any more public schools? Do we act now and solve immediate and projected needs, or do we listen to the anti-Measure I naysayers, delay the inevitable, and ultimately pay more in the future for what we can purchase now at a lower cost?
I’m investing in the future, now. I’ve voted for Measure I already, and I hope you do as well.
Dale Morejón, Gilroy
Submitted Monday, Oct. 21 to [email protected]