Record Number of California School Districts Want to Borrow Up to $11.8 Billion

A record number of K-12 school and community college districts in California want voters to approve bond measures for construction in the November 4, 2014 election (see chart below). Here are some preliminary findings from an ongoing California Policy Center study on construction bonds for educational districts in California. The complete study will be released later this year.

On November 4, California voters could potentially authorize new debt that over the next 30 or more years will cost taxpayers over $20 billion in repayment of principal and paying interest on bonds. The California Policy Center seeks to increase voter awareness of how bond measures increase public debt by highlighting a simple but often overlooked fact:

When voters approve bond measures for educational districts, they authorize the district to borrow money from investors and then pay that money back over time, with interest.

Voting on a bond measure requires more than a quick response based on emotional appeals. Voters need to look at the debt already accumulated by the school or college district and consider whether it is wise for the district to take on additional debt.

One example is the San Mateo Community College District, which is asking voters to authorize borrowing $388 million for construction to add to the $1.2 billion it now owes to investors as debt service from two earlier bond measures. (See document below.)

Another example is the Pittsburg Unified School District, which is asking voters to authorize borrowing $85 million for construction to add to the $478 million it now owes to investors as debt service from three earlier bond measures. (See document below.)

A third example is Napa Valley College, which is asking voters to authorize borrowing $198 million for construction. In 2002 voters authorized this district to borrow $133.8 million, but today it has $229 million in debt service – in part because of Capital Appreciation Bonds. (See document below.)

Not only are the amount of these bonds and their interest costs over time of critical importance, but the structure of bond sales often mislead voters. Some of California’s 108 educational districts asking voters to approve bond measures in November are likely to backload taxpayer repayments many years into the future through the scheme of capital appreciation bonds. Lightly regulated in California as a result of a new law (Assembly Bill 182) enacted in 2013, capital appreciation bonds are similar to the types of subprime loans that lured buyers into borrowing more than they could afford by putting balloon payments years in the future.

If a school district does not expressly prohibit capital appreciation bonds with its bond resolution, voters should consider the possibility that the district may use this unorthodox financing practice and burden future generations of Californians with excessive debt.

It’s important for local news media to make voters aware of the definition of a bond, the amount of existing bond debt for a school district, the true cost over time of a bond measure when interest is included, and the likelihood that a school district will sell capital appreciation bonds.


On the November 4, 2014 ballot in California are a record 113 individual bond measures for 108 local educational districts. Voters are being asked to authorize these districts to borrow a total of $11.8 billion. (See below.)

Previous amounts requested from California voters in November general elections:

2012 – 106 bond measures for 105 educational districts totaling $14.4 billion

2010 – 63 bond measures for 63 educational districts totaling $4.2 billion

2008 – 96 bond measures for 92 educational districts totaling $22.5 billion (includes $7 billion for Los Angeles Unified School District)


113 Bond Measures for 108 Educational Districts: Borrowing $11.8 Billion

California Educational District

Measure

County/Counties

Amount

1

North Orange County Community College District

Measure J

Los Angeles/Orange

$574,000,000

2

Santa Clara Unified School District

Measure H

Santa Clara

$419,000,000

3

Sonoma County Junior College District

Measure H

Marin/Mendocino/Sonoma

$410,000,000

4

Moreno Valley Unified School District

Measure M

Riverside

$398,000,000

5

Corona-Norco Unified School District

Measure GG

Riverside

$396,000,000

6

San Mateo County Community College District

Measure H

San Mateo

$388,000,000

7

Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District

Measure G

Los Angeles

$375,000,000

8

Orange Unified School District

Measure K

Orange

$296,000,000

9

Fremont Union High School District

Measure K

Santa Clara

$295,000,000

10

Mt. San Jacinto Community College District

Measure AA

Riverside

$295,000,000

11

Santa Barbara Community College District

Measure S

Santa Barbara

$288,000,000

12

San Luis Obispo County Community College District

Measure L-14

Monterey/San Luis Obispo

$275,000,000

13

Anaheim Union High School District

Measure H

Orange

$249,000,000

14

Downey Unified School District

Measure O

Los Angeles

$248,000,000

15

Vallejo City Unified School District

Measure E

Solano

$239,000,000

16

Hayward Unified School District

Measure L

Alameda

$229,000,000

17

Desert Sands Unified School District

Measure KK

Riverside

$225,000,000

18

Hesperia Unified School District

Measure M

San Bernardino

$207,000,000

19

Napa Valley Community College District

Measuer E

Napa/Sonoma

$198,000,000

20

Conejo Valley Unified School District

Measure I

Ventura

$197,000,000

21

ABC Unified School District

Measure AA

Los Angeles

$195,200,000

22

Folsom Cordova Unified School District

Measure G

Sacramento

$195,000,000

23

Vacaville Unified School District

Measure A

Solano

$194,000,000

24

Escondido Union School District

Measure E

San Diego

$182,100,000

25

Alameda Unified School District

Measure I

Alameda

$179,500,000

26

San Luis Coastal Unified School District

Measure D-14

San Luis Obispo

$177,000,000

27

Fullerton Joint Union High School District

Measure I

Los Angeles/Orange

$175,000,000

28

Santa Rosa High School District

Measure I

Sonoma

$175,000,000

29

Manteca Unified School District

Measure G

San Joaquin

$159,000,000

30

Los Altos School District

Measure N

Santa Clara

$150,000,000

31

Saugus Union School District

Measure EE

Los Angeles

$148,000,000

32

Torrance Unified School District

Meaasure T

Los Angeles

$144,300,000

33

Jurupa Unified School District

Measure EE

Riverside

$144,000,000

34

Jefferson Union High School District

Measure J

San Mateo

$133,000,000

35

Natomas Unified School District

Measure J

Sacramento

$129,000,000

36

Salinas Union High School District

Measure B

Monterey

$128,000,000

37

New Haven Unified School District

Measure M

Alameda

$125,000,000

38

Stockton Unified School District

Measure E

San Joaquin

$114,000,000

39

Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District

Measure U

Nevada/Placer

$114,000,000

40

East Side Union High School District

Measure I

Santa Clara

$113,200,000

41

Compton Community College District

Measure C

Los Angeles

$100,000,000

42

Evergreen School District

Measure M

Santa Clara

$100,000,000

43

Murietta Valley Unified School District

Measure BB

Riverside

$98,000,000

44

Azusa Unified School District

Measure K

Los Angeles

$92,000,000

45

Carpinteria Unified School District

Measure U

Santa Barbara

$90,000,000

46

Oak Grove School District

Measure P

Santa Clara

$89,800,000

47

Pittsburg Unified School District

Measure N

Contra Costa

$85,000,000

48

El Monte City School District

Measure M

Los Angeles

$78,000,000

49

Woodland Joint Unified School District

Measure S

Sutter/Yolo

$78,000,000

50

Berryessa Union School District

Measure L

Santa Clara

$77,000,000

51

Madera Unified School District

Measure G

Madera

$70,000,000

52

Porterville Unified School District

Measure B

Tulare

$67,000,000

53

Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District

Measure E

El Dorado/Placer

$62,000,000

54

Snowline Joint Unified School District

Measure L

Los Angeles

$60,000,000

55

Western Placer Unified School District

Measure A

Placer

$60,000,000

56

Atascadero Unified School District

Measure B-14

San Luis Obispo

$58,000,000

57

Lake Tahoe Community College District

Measure F

El Dorado

$55,000,000

58

Hermosa Beach City School District

Measure Q

Los Angeles

$54,000,000

59

Santa Rosa Elementary School District

Measure L

Sonoma

$54,000,000

60

John Swett Unified School District

Measure M

Contra Costa

$52,000,000

61

Torrance Unified School District

Measure U

Los Angeles

$50,000,000

62

Washington Unified School District

Measure V

Yolo

$49,800,000

63

Eureka City School Districct

Measure S

Humboldt

$49,750,000

64

Belmont-Redwood Shores School District

Measure  I

San Mateo

$48,000,000

65

Santa Maria-Bonita School District

Measure T-14

San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara

$45,000,000

66

Ramona Unified School District

Measure Q

San Diego

$40,000,000

67

Rio School District

Measure G

Ventura

$38,500,000

68

Central School District

Measure N

San Bernardino

$35,000,000

69

Ojai Unified School District

Measure J

Ventura

$35,000,000

70

Lakeside Union School District

Measure L

San Diego

$31,000,000

71

Bassett Unified School District

Measure V

Los Angeles

$30,000,000

72

Dixie School District

Measure C

Marin

$30,000,000

73

Kentfield School District

Measure D

Marin

$30,000,000

74

Rosemead School District

Measure RS

Los Angeles

$30,000,000

75

Robla School District

Measure K

Sacramento

$29,800,000

76

Hollister School District

Measure M

San Benito

$28,500,000

77

Southern Kern Unified School District

Measure D

Kern

$28,400,000

78

Montecito Union School District

Measure Q

Santa Barbara

$27,150,000

79

National School District

Measure N

San Diego

$26,100,000

80

Cajon Valley Union School District

Measure C

San Diego

$20,000,000

81

West Hills Community College District

Measure T

Kings/ Monterey/San Benito

$20,000,000

82

Woodland Joint Unified School District

Measure T

Sutter/Yolo

$19,000,000

83

Pacific Grove Unified School District

Measure A

Monterey

$18,000,000

84

Lakeport Unified School District

Measure T

Lake

$17,000,000

85

Arvin Union School District

Measure E

Kern

$15,000,000

86

Los Nietos School District

Measure E

Los Angeles

$15,000,000

87

Mendota Unified School District

Measure M

Fresno

$15,000,000

88

Gustine Unified School District

Measure P

Merced

$14,000,000

89

Golden Plains Unified School District

Measure G

Fresno

$13,000,000

90

Los Nietos School District

Measure N

Los Angeles

$13,000,000

91

Palo Verde Community College District

Measure P

Riverside

$12,500,000

92

College School District

Measure Y

Santa Barbara

$12,000,000

93

Greenfield Union Elementary School District

Measure C

Monterey

$10,000,000

94

Greenfield Union Elementary School District

Measure D

Monterey

$10,000,000

95

Lemon Grove School District

Measure R

San Diego

$10,000,000

96

Southern Humboldt Unified School District

Measure X

Humboldt/Mendocino

$10,000,000

97

Bolinas-Stinson Union School District

Measure B

Marin

$9,000,000

98

Fortuna Elementary School District

Measure W

Humboldt

$9,000,000

99

Columbia Elementary School District

Measure E

Shasta

$8,600,000

100

Mojave Unified School District

Measure C

Kern

$8,100,000

101

Yreka Union High School District

Measure H

Siskiyou

$8,000,000

102

McCabe Union Elementary School District

Measure H

Imperial

$7,000,000

103

Oak Grove Union School District

Measure K

Sonoma

$6,000,000

104

Colusa Unified School District

Measure A

Colusa

$5,900,000

105

Laytonville Unified School District

Measure Q

Mendocino

$5,500,000

106

Famersville Unified School District

Measure A

Tulare

$4,800,000

107

Briggs Elementary School District

Measure K

Ventura

$4,500,000

108

East Nicolaus Unified School District

Measure W

Sutter

$4,000,000

109

Pine Ridge ESD

Measure G

Fresno

$4,000,000

110

Tipton Elementary School District

Measure C

Tulare

$3,300,000

111

Cinnabar Elementary School District

Measure J

Sonoma

$2,500,000

112

Jacoby Creek Charter School District

Measure Y

Humboldt

$2,500,000

113

Vallecitos School District

Measure O

San Diego

$2,000,000

TOTAL

$11,775,300,000


San Mateo Community College District Debt Service, obtained from Official Statement dated September 12, 2014 and posted on Electronic Municipal Market Access website of Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

San Mateo Community College District Debt Service, obtained from Official Statement dated September 12, 2014 and posted on Electronic Municipal Market Access website of Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

Pittsburg Unified School District Debt Service, obtained from Official Statement dated April 17, 2014 and posted on Electronic Municipal Market Access website of Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

Pittsburg Unified School District Debt Service, obtained from Official Statement dated April 17, 2014 and posted on Electronic Municipal Market Access website of Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

Napa Valley College District Debt Service, obtained from Official Statement dated June 3, 2014 and posted on Electronic Municipal Market Access website of Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

Napa Valley College District Debt Service, obtained from Official Statement dated June 3, 2014 and posted on Electronic Municipal Market Access website of Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

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