Vacaville Unified School District

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Measure A Project Updates

Facility Q & A

Commonly Asked Questions & Answers

How are school facilities generally funded in California?

School districts in California receive very little funding for facilities from the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Districts that are not considered “basic aid” usually generate funding for facilities from local bond measures, parcel taxes, proposition 39 (for energy projects) or developer fees. VUSD receives funding for facilities from bond Measure A, Prop 39 (for energy projects) and developer fees.

 

What is Measure A bond funding?

Bond financing is a type of long-term borrowing that state and local governments frequently use to raise money, primarily for long-lived infrastructure assets. The finds are obtained by selling bonds to investors. In exchange, the money is repaid with interest, according to specified schedules. The Vacaville Measure A bond is a $194,000,000 general obligation bond for VUSD facility improvements passed on November 4, 2014 with a 62% yes vote. Funds for the bond are scheduled to be received in four installments over 20 years.

 

How are Measure A projects, budgets and priorities determined?

VUSD made extensive efforts in 2013-14 to research and understand facility needs across the district. A project scope was developed for the November 2014 election ballot. Measure A expenditures must adhere to the ballot language approved by voters. The VUSD Board of Trustees approves projects, budgets and phasing. Some factors involved in determining Measure A phases, budgets and projects include: age of school facility, timing for school eligibility for state or federal matching funds- eligibility often cycles every 20 years, students population, volume pricing for adjacent facilities, school rotation in Measure V project phases, facility equity and other criteria.

 

What are developer fees?

Government Code section 65995 and California Education Code section 17620 allows school districts to levy fees on residential or commercial/industrial construction projects within a school district’s boundaries. The State Allocation Board (SAB) sets the per-square-foot Level I school impact fees (a.k.a. “developer fees”) every two years at its January meeting in even number years (i.e., 2010, 2012, 2014). Alternative School Fees (a.k.a. Level II or Level III fees) may also be collected by districts meeting certain requirements.
In accordance with Education Code 17620, the governing board of any school district is authorized to levy a fee for residential or commercial construction within the boundaries of the district, for the purpose of funding the construction or reconstruction of school facilities. Developer fees are most commonly paid when a newly constructed home is built.

 

How much does VUSD receive from developers?

The current VUSD developer fees are $3.36 per square foot for residential and $0.54 per square foot for commercial/industrial. Developer fees for homes in the Cheyenne Estates of north Vacaville are $12,103 per home. View the School Facility Fee Justification Report for Residential, Commercial & Industrial Development Projects.

 

How does VUSD use developer fees?

In general, VUSD works to save developer fees for future construction of a new school. However, these funds are used to add classrooms to existing school sites to keep pace with growth. Developer fees have also been used to open new schools such as the Ernest Kimme Charter Academy.

 

How much does VUSD currently have from developer fees?

As of August 2017, developer fees accrued to date are approximately $15,600,000. This includes fees collected from south Vacaville developments and north Vacaville developments. Developer fees should be used to mitigate growth relative to the area of growth; Fees collected from a south Vacaville development would not be used to build a school in north Vacaville. 

 

Why doesn’t VUSD build schools when developers start building homes?

Developer fees are paid by land developers and can only be used to mitigate population growth caused by the development. Developer fees are paid when a newly constructed single-family homes are built. New neighborhoods are typically built in phases, often spanning decades based upon the economy and home sales. It often takes more than 10 years to accrue enough money to build a new school. In the meantime, student numbers increase.  In order to accommodate slow growth, school districts across California add portable buildings to existing schools to serve students immediately. Also, construction costs often escalate at a faster pace than fees can be collected.A 2017 cost estimate to construct a new K-6 school on an empty lot in North Vacaville is $38,000,000. 

 

What is VUSD’s current student enrollment?

As of 9-1-2017, VUSD enrollment is 12,645. The following graph from the California Department of Education shows a historical trend for VUSD enrollment.

VUSD enrollment trends
What is VUSD's plan to mitigate population changes?

VUSD has a plan that allows the district to flex with changes to enrollment numbers while being fiscally efficient. This plan includes several actions: saving developer fees for a new school whenever possible; the re-opening of Sierra Vista K-8 in 2016 as a school now open to every VUSD family; the opening of Ernest Kimme Charter Academy for Independent Learners, now serving approx. 200 students; the revamp of Fairmont Elementary campus and curriculum, now Fairmont Charter Elementary open to every VUSD family. (Fairmont was recognized in 2016 by the California Department of Education as a distinguished Gold Ribbon school); consideration of reinstating year-round school schedules at sites that have expressed interest. Many families were disheartened by the loss of the multi-track year round school schedule. VUSD is open to re-establishing this option for families if the desire still exists in the community. This possibility can reduce the number of students on campus at any given time; Proposition 51 may or may not allocate funding for facilities in years to come.

 

How does VUSD decide when a school will be built?

Fiscal limitations are a primary factor, but several other considerations are made before new schools are built; California budget trends- VUSD was forced to close Sierra Vista Elementary in 2011 due to statewide budget cuts to educational funding. VUSD has since been able to re-open Sierra Vista as a K-8 school open to all VUSD families; forecasted cost increases- school districts across California are facing another budget crunch in coming years, as the mandated employer contributions to the state’s pension funds are slated to increase to 19.1% for STRS by 2020 and to 27.3% for PERS by 2024. VUSD administration and trustees are cautious not to over extend financial obligations in preparation for increasing costs; Vacaville Unified demographics currently show fewer students enrolled in VUSD than a decade ago; accrual of developer fees- VUSD works to save developer fees whenever possible to help with construction costs of a new school. Accrual of enough developer fees to build a new school may take at least ten more years.