Rich suburb to save big bucks

Schools in this affluent suburb will soon be able to focus on much-anticipated renovations after a bill that will help provide California school districts with an alternative method of funding passed in the Legislature this week, saving the Hillsborough School District $1.2 million.

Hillsborough schools, which initiated the bill with author Assemblyman Gene Mullin, D-South San Francisco, will save large administrative costs associated with the annual sale of bonds required by state law. The savings will allow the district to help pay off a $69 million construction and renovation overhaul of all the town’s schools. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the bill into law by Oct. 14.

The extra money will go toward a bevy of projects during the school renovations, which include a new science lecture hall, the installation of a technology center and the construction of an instrumental music center. The district will also be adding four new classrooms to West School elementary and expanding fine arts programs.

Before Mullin’s legislation was passed, state law required schools to sell fundraising bonds annually over a five-year period. The underwriter and administrative fees associated with selling these bonds, as well as the constant increase in the cost of construction, add up. The new bill would allow schools across the state to sell these bonds every five years.

In Hillsborough’s case, administrative costs would have equaled $1.2 million — money that wouldn’t have gone to the schools. As a result, projects such as Hillsborough’s renovations would have had to be scaled backto account for the administrative costs for the bonds.

“This legislation is really a result of figuring out how to spend very prudently the money that the community authorized,” Superintendent Marilyn Loushin-Miller said. “I don’t know why somebody else hasn’t brought this up in the past.”

The bill could allow schools to use this type of bond more often.

“We absolutely believe that this bill will provide a source of funding for the construction and modernization of school facilities,” Mullin said. “It will help expedite [that process], as well.”

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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