Editorial from the San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board |http://bit.ly/ZfXLbA
6 p.m., Nov. 11, 2012 | A story last week on the EdSource website described how school districts around California won approval of 85 of the 106 “construction bonds” on the Nov. 6 ballot. http://bit.ly/WL31Wa
If only they really were construction bonds, dedicated to long-term capital improvements such as new school facilities. Instead, in dozens of districts around California, bond money is being used to free up funds in the operating budget. It’s not just San Diego Unified, where bond money in recent years has been used for routine maintenance and for nearly 100,000 laptops and iPads. For one example of dozens, in the tiny Burlingame Elementary School District outside of Sacramento, a $56 million bond was approved last week that will also be used in part for short-lived computers and minor “renovations.”
It’s preposterous to take out the equivalent of a 30-year mortgage to pay for routine school improvements and for equipment that won’t last but for a few years. It’s off-loading present costs – plus debt service – onto future generations. Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, State Auditor Elaine Howle or both should dig into this issue.
Poway Unified’s and San Diego Unified’s use of exotic and incredibly expensive capital appreciation bonds has gotten lots of attention. [stories: http://bit.ly/SX7DUO + http://reut.rs/TBo0T4] Now it’s time for another irresponsible bond practice – one that appears to be far more widespread – to receive the same scrutiny.