Directors Jody London (right) and Jumoke Hinton Hodge
District 1 Director Jody London recently introduced a resolution endorsing the use of Proposition 39 funds to create an energy resources management system within Oakland public schools.
Prop. 39, which was passed by California voters in November's general election with 61 percent of the vote, will close a corporate tax loophole by requiring out-of-state businesses to calculate their California income tax based on the percentage of their sales in California. The proposition is estimated to bring in approximately $1 billion in additional state revenue annually.
According to London, the proposition, which was initiated earlier this month at a Oakland Unified School District Board of Education meeting, also comes with a provision that will direct $550 million of the additional revenue towards schools and local governments for energy efficiency, green energy and job creation in the first five years of the proposition’s lifetime.
“One of the things I’ve seen lacking in our own district’s energy management system is the inability to manage energy,” she said. “It’s something that most districts don’t have.”
London’s resolution urges the California Legislature to allocate $31.5 million, or the equivalent of five dollars per student enrolled in the state’s Department of Education, to cover the start-up costs of creating resource management systems across California school districts.
The funds would ensure every school district can adopt operating policies and have the internal resources necessary for launching resource management programs, as well as create a data-driven system that allows districts to monitor energy and water use, perform on-the-ground audits and compare the relative condition of district facilities.
“These programs would provide a way of looking at all of our buildings and figuring out where we have higher or lower usage,” London said. “Something the district currently doesn’t have the ability to do.”
London also said a resource management system in addition, would allow for the creation of projects that save energy and water and reduce emissions to be launched quickly and tracked in their entirety.
“Operational efficiency is not covered by any other tax-payer funded program,” she said. “And goes beyond one-time fixes to institute sustainable policies and practices, realize economies of scale and use data for continuous improvement.”
With three proposals for how to spend the $550 million in additional funds already on the table, London pushed for urgency in passing the resolution and informing the district’s lobbyist in Sacramento of the board’s position.
“California’s taxpayers often pay more for and see decreased results when schools do not address energy use policies and behavior, procurement and adequate maintenance of new mechanical and technical systems,” London said. “I’d like to advocate before the debate really heats up.”
The proposal comes just days after the district’s administration offices near Lake Merritt were damaged due to accidental flooding by a running faucet left on in a janitors closet on the fourth floor, allowing 1,440 gallons of water to flow through the building.
London said she believes the proper resource management system could have alerted facilities managers and lessened or prevented the damage done by the accident.
“The current model of using contractors to try to engage individual districts – which usually do not have the staff, expertise, time or funding to fully understand energy management – cannot adequately drive participation by schools.”