Friday, July 21, 2000
Mary Spletter (510) 987-9004



The University of California Board of Regents went on record during its July meeting to support the Smaller Classes, Safer Schools and Financial Accountability Act, which will appear on the November 2000 general election ballot.

The measure amends the California Constitution to allow passage of local school bond issues with a 55 percent vote, rather than the two-third vote currently required.

UC President Richard C. Atkinson recommended that the regents endorse the act. "This measure matters as much to UC as it does to the K-14 system, because we depend on the schools and the community colleges to give students the academic foundation they must have to succeed at the university," he said.

"Passage of this measure is critically important to the future of quality education in California" said Regent Chair S. Sue Johnson. "Both K-12 and higher education will benefit if this measure passes."

Johnson added, "It was agonizing to see Proposition 26 so narrowly defeated in the March 2000 primary election ballot. We know that it is needed to help prepare for the expected influx of new students over the next decade and to maintain safe schools where California students will have the best chance to learn."

The Board of Regents supported Prop. 26, which authorized simple majority approval for local school bonds. That measure was defeated by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin. The only significant change in the new measure is that the approval threshold has been increased from a simple majority to 55 percent.

Along with lowering the threshold of votes to pass local school bonds, the measure improves accountability for bonds by including annual performance and financial audits and a requirement that a specific list of projects to be built with bond money be provided to voters.

Gov. Gray Davis is chair of the campaign to pass the Smaller Classes, Safer Schools and Financial Accountability Act and has announced that former Gov. Pete Wilson will serve as co-chairman of the campaign. The Secretary of State's Office will issue the November 2000 ballot measures for public display on July 25.

Organizations that have endorsed the measure include: the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the California Building Industry Association; California Business Roundtable; California Chamber of Commerce; California Manufacturers and Technology Association; California School Boards Association; California State PTA and California State University.

The only known opposition at the present time is the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Organization.

The Board met July 19-20 in San Francisco and took action on the measure late Thursday (July 20).

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