[RECAP] Schools & Communities First Initiative Will be Key to San Diego’s Recovery

For a recording of today’s digital press conference, click here.

SAN DIEGO, CA — Today, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher; Maria Nieto Senour, Board Trustee of the San Diego County Community College District; Richard Barrera, Board Vice President of the San Diego Unified School District; Kisha Borden, teacher and president of the San Diego Education Association; and Christopher R. Wilson, Alliance San Diego associate director discussed the Schools & Communities First initiative and its impact on San Diego County. 

Schools & Communities First, which has just qualified with a record number of signatures for the November ballot, would reclaim $12 billion a year to invest in our schools and communities by closing a corporate tax loophole.

The initiative is expected to generate over $700 million a year for San Diego County, according to a report by the University of Southern California (USC). To see a breakdown of how Schools & Communities First will benefit San Diego County, click here. The revenue will go to local schools, services, and infrastructure that will help everyone get ahead. For that reason, the initiative is endorsed by all of the area community colleges, the largest school district, and local elected officials. They are joined by hundreds of civic leaders, health organizations, small businesses, social justice organizations, and many more. 

San Diego Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said: 

“The inequities in our society were not created by Coronavirus, they were not created by social unrest, but they have been highlighted by them. It is our obligation to take action to try and address them. Schools & Communities First simply closes a loophole that has been exploited by some of the wealthiest corporations in the world, in order to avoid paying their fair share for our schools and in our communities. It is simply time that we right this wrong. It is vital that we come together to ensure that these entities are properly assessed and ensure that they’re paying their fair share of commercial property taxes. Schools & Communities First protects small businesses and homeowners, and ensures that we can begin to make the investments we need to build the future that I know so many of us believe is vital to our region.” 

Maria Nieto Senour, Board Trustee of San Diego County Community College District, said:

“Community colleges are the backbone of higher education and workforce development in California, yet we are the lowest funded of any California higher education institution by a significant amount. Schools & Communities First would generate nearly $500 million every year, and over $42 million of that would come directly to San Diego County community colleges. These funds are desperately needed, because our students need as much support as we can give them. The level of new revenue that community colleges would be getting from Schools & Communities First would be a game changer.”

Richard Barrera, Board Vice President of the San Diego Unified School District, said: 

“I’m proud to say that the San Diego Unified School District Board of Trustees has unanimously endorsed the Schools & Communities First Initiative. It’s a necessary measure to support our students. Our schools need a nurse in every school, counselors in every school and lower class sizes. However, for 42 years the wealthiest corporations in this state have used a loophole to deprive our students of what they need to move forward. Schools & Communities first would generate over $300 million for San Diego Schools alone, and those funds would enable us to permanently have the resources we need. Let’s do something real to change the future of young people who will then create a more just and equitable California.”

Kisha Borden, teacher and president of the San Diego Education Association, said: 

“I’m a 23-year veteran educator in the San Diego Unified School District. In those 23 years I have unfortunately seen a sharp decline in the resources that support teaching and learning in our schools. The last 12 years have been especially difficult for schools and students we serve, and now the COVID-19 crisis has plunged the state into another possible recession. The Schools & Communities First Initiative provides critical funding to schools that are facing crippling budget cuts due to failing tax revenues and unprecedented unemployment because of this crisis. This initiative will provide communities the help that they need now, and into the future.”

Christopher R. Wilson, associate director of Alliance San Diego, said:

“Since 1978, large commercial and industrial property owners have neglected paying their fair share in commercial property taxes in California. This has led to huge disinvestment in schools, services and infrastructure that could’ve helped our communities during times of crisis. We need to do something to make sure these communities can thrive again. Schools & Communities First can help by making sure the biggest property owners in California pay their fare share of commercial property taxes. Schools & Communities First invests in our families and our future. By generating $12 billion dollars a year for schools and other local services, communities hardest hit by the pandemic and the inequities of our system can get the resources they need the most.”  


About Alliance San Diego

Alliance San Diego is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) community empowerment organization working to ensure that all people can achieve their full potential in an environment of harmony, safety, equality, and justice. Our mission is to provide a means for diverse individuals and organizations to share information, collaborate on issues and mobilize for change in the pursuit of social justice, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. We pursue this mission through targeted civic engagement programs and strategic coalitions that focus on specific issues and policy reforms.