SAN FRANCISCO - California school and community college districts would be able to issue general obligation bonds to finance housing for teachers and other employees under a bill moving through the Legislature.
The bill is up for a floor vote this week in the Senate, after which it would have to be approved by the Assembly. Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, introduced the bill at the request of the New Haven Unified School District, which is in his Assembly district.
The school district had been contemplating a $150 million bond measure this November, and one part of that proposal would have included the construction of 150 apartments on the site of a shuttered school.
The bill remains active, though the school district has put its bond referendum plans on hold this year.
New Haven USD officials chose not to add a bond measure to what will be a crowded November ballot, said spokesman Rick La Plante.
The district also is in the midst of leadership changes, with the departure of the superintendent in June and three of the five school board seats open this November further influencing the decision to delay any bond measure, La Plante said.
Without any pressure for the bill to take effect this November, Torrico amended it so that it is no longer an urgency measure, Torrico spokesman Jeff Barbosa said Friday.
That means the bill can pass with a simple majority vote, as opposed to the two-thirds vote of the Legislature that would be needed for an urgency measure. If the bill passes and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs it into law, it would take effect in January.
There is already precedent for California school districts to construct teacher housing - the San Mateo Community College District and the Santa Clara Unified School District have each built apartments for their teachers.
Torrico's bill would offer a new twist by allowing such apartments to be financed with proceeds from GOs, which are backed with a special property tax and require voter approval.
Unlike most school GO measures in California, which require a 55% vote, the bill would require a two-thirds vote for bonds used to finance teacher housing, Barbosa said.
"By giving districts the ability to issue bonds for housing, their ability to recruit and retain quality staff will be enhanced," Torrico said in a statement in June, after his bill cleared a Senate committee.
New Haven USD's former chief business officer, Carol Gregorich, told the school board that teacher apartments, once rented, could generate profits the district could use for restricted maintenance projects, freeing general fund money for classroom expenses, according to minutes from a November 2007 board meeting.