California League of Bond Oversight Committees



Data exclusive: With California school bonds,
the rich get richer and the poor, not so much

By Ricardo Cano | Oct. 31, 2018 | Election 2018, K-12 Education |

EXCERPT:   Schools in California’s wealthier communities have been reaping far more local bond money than poorer districts, a CALmatters analysis shows—a reality that amplifies existing inequities for the state’s public school students. ...
     The result: While voters in many communities have approved unprecedented amounts of local school bonds to modernize facilities, some students, many of them poor, have remained in crumbling classrooms that haven’t been substantially renovated since they were first built in the 1950s or 60s. ...
     Our analysis of the history of school bonds over the past two decades found a lopsided effect that appears to not only favor wealthier communities, but also make it harder for smaller and rural districts to maximize local dollars.
     Example: Hilmar Unified, in a Merced County community situated in the quiet farmlands between Interstate 5 and Highway 99. About 60 percent of the district’s 2,400 students last year were on free or reduced lunch, according to state data. Hilmar passed just one local bond in the past 20 years worth $2 million. That amounts to about $838 per pupil.
     During the same period, voters in Beverly Hills Unified, with nearly 4,000 students enrolled as of last year, approved more than $1 billion in local bonds—that’s $271,803 per pupil.
    Local school bond measures exploded in California. In next Tuesday’s election [Nov. 2018], voters will be asked to approve 100 local bond measures totaling $12 billion. Over the past 20 years, voters across 660 California school districts have passed local bonds worth about $113 billion.
     Yet in the same time, more than 350 school districts with a combined 430,000 students have not passed a single local school bond. ...
     A Stanford study published in September found California public schools will need about $117 billion for facilities construction and repairs over the next decade. The study also found that the wide disparities in school facilities funding “systematically related to school district property wealth, income, and students’ backgrounds result in a relatively regressive finance system.”
      A 2015 UC Berkeley study also found districts with high populations of low-income students tend to use more money intended to go toward classroom instruction to pay for facilities, compared to more affluent districts.
     Jeff Vincent, co-founder of UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities and Schools and an author of the Stanford report, said the system for financing school facilities in California runs counter to the state’s recent efforts to overhaul how it funds its public schools. In 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a new funding formula that gives more money for items such as instructional costs to schools that have the greatest concentrations of students in need.
     “We have prioritized state dollars to lower-wealth places to give them a leg up, and we really have not done that on the school facilities side of the equation,” Vincent said.
     The number and amounts of approved local bond measures have grown exponentially over the past two decades, in part because of a law that lowered the threshold for approval of school bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent. While voters across California have approved most local school bond measures, they remain difficult to pass in some communities. ...
       As for the Beverly Hills Unified district, it’s using local bond money for costly safety and retrofitting measures to its historic school buildings, some of which date back to the 1930s and have been popularized by films—such as the retractable gym floor over the swimming pool in  “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
     District attorney Terry Tao likened the bond-funded projects to “taking a Model T (car) and retrofitting it with all of today’s safety components.” He said a cheaper alternative—tearing down the buildings and rebuilding replicas—was met with public furor because of the buildings’ historical and sentimental value. ... 
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CaLBOC Business Plan Approved

At a special board meeting of the California League of Bond Oversight Committees the board unanimously approved a new Business Plan for the organization.
Key features of the new Business Plan include: 
•  Creates a new "Membership" tier of the organization.  Directors will be elected by the membership. 
•  Expands board membership from the current maximum of fifteen to thirty-five, which will also expand the pool of resources available.  Officers will continue to be elected by the board of directors. 
•  Formalizes and expands the current catalog of training material, and authorizes the development of a syllabus of high-quality on-line training videos, which will be made available to CBOC's.
•  Calls for strengthening the collaboration between CaLBOC and local taxpayer advocacy associations (TPA's).  TPA's have the local knowledge necessary to allow them to consult with school districts prior to the passage of Prop 39 bonds, and are the logical source for taxpayer representatives on CBOC's, a requirement of Prop 39. 

The Business Plan contemplates that CaLBOC will propose that the state Treasurer fund the development and roll-out of the video training plan.  This proposal is in line with the recommendation of the Little Hoover Commission, which reported that the oversight of Prop 39 bonds since its passage is not adequate, and that mandatory training developed by CaLBOC should be required for all Prop 39 CBOC's.  

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Helping School Bond Oversight Committees Serve Their Communities.

By Lee Barnathan |
School Construction • EXCERPT:
AB 203 – Requires the Department of Education, in establishing standards for school districts to ensure that the design and construction of school facilities are educationally appropriate and promote school safety, to provide for design flexibility by school districts. Requires the Department of Education, Division of the State Architect, and Office of Public School Construction, on or before July 1, 2018, to submit a report to the State Legislature on streamlining their application processes.
AB 618 – Permits school districts to set the monetary threshold by which they are authorized to use job order contracting. Prohibits contractors retained by a school district to assist in the development of job order contract documents from bidding on job order contracts or participating in the preparation of a bid with any job order contractor. Authorizes community college districts to use job order contracting through January 1, 2022.

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CaLBOC Conference Southern California

Date TBA 

Conference Theme:
School Bond Oversight 101
Orange County Association of Realtors

25552 La Paz Road
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

The purpose of the conference is to provide training, tools and information that can be used to conduct more effective citizen bond oversight.

Including a broad overview of the purpose of citizen’s oversight, what to expect at meetings and committee operatios (eg. By Laws, Brown Act), Bond Program Audits, and areas for review and accountability.

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Little Hoover Commission Report
"Borrowed Money: Opportunities for Stronger Bond Oversight"  February 2017 

Los Angeles Civil Grand Jury Report:
"Capital Appreciation School Bond Debt: Consequences of Poor Financial Practices"
Final Report 2015-2016


May 19, 2015 Conference
Don Mullinax Presentation:
Fraud Awareness: School Construction


Legislative UpdateS:

California School & Community College District Bond Legislation


The California League of Bond Oversight Committees (CaLBOC) is an all volunteer, non-partisan association of Citizen Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) members, current and past, who are interested in helping other CBOC members. CaLBOC was formed in 2006 by CBOC members trying to find better training to help perform their duties. CaLBOC is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.

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