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    Bill To Require Clean School Bathrooms Passes, Goes To Governor; Sen. McClintock Votes "No"

    (Sept. 11, 2003) -- A bill that will require CA public and private schools to provide students with clean, maintained and stocked bathrooms has passed the state Assembly and state Senate...and will be sent to Governor Gray Davis for signature or veto.

    As enacted, SB 892 by state Senator Kevin Murray (D., L.A./Culver City) provides in pertinent part:

    SEC 1...

    (a)...(1) Every restroom shall at all times be maintained and cleaned regularly, fully operational and stocked at all times with toilet paper, soap, and paper towels or functional hand dryers.

    (2) The school shall keep all restrooms open during school hours when pupils are not in classes, and shall keep a sufficient number of restrooms open during school hours when pupils are in classes.

    (b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a school may temporarily close any restroom as necessary for pupil safety or as necessary to repair the facility.

    (c) Any school district that operates a public school that is in violation of this section as determined by the State Allocation Board is ineligible for state school facilities funding under the Leroy F. Greene School Facilities Act of 1998 (Chapter 12.5 (commencing with Section 17070.10) of Part 10).

    SEC. 2. It is the intent of the Legislature that a school employee who performs maintenance or repair functions related to restroom facilities that are subject to Section 35292.5 of the Education Code not be subject to discipline if the employee performs his or her responsibilities as required by his or her employer.

    The Assembly floor analysis (Sept. 9) stated in part:

    "FISCAL EFFECT: According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, unknown General Fund (Proposition 98) cost pressure likely in the millions, for public school districts to comply with the requirements of this measure. General Fund compliance costs to SAB [State Allocation Board] of at least $150,000."

    SB 892 cleared the Senate on Sept. 11 on a 23-10 vote (final passage). LB state Senator Betty Karnette voted "yes." The bill now goes to Governor Davis who can sign or veto it.

    One of the candidates to replace Gov. Davis in the pending recall, state Senator Tom McClintock, voted "no" on the bill. Reached for comment, John Stoos, Dep. Campaign Director for the McClintock for Governor campaign told

    "It goes with Senator's general philosophy of classroom based budgeting. The reason California currently puts roughly $9,200 per student in at the top and gets so little in our classrooms is because of this type of bureaucratic nonsense.

    "Senator McClintock believes if you give parents and teachers the money, they'll make sure the bathrooms are clean. Classroom based budgeting means instead of having Sacramento and Washington deciding where money gets spent and what priorities are, Sen. McClintock would go back to the time when a Principal was the person in charge. Give the Principal the $9,200 per student and let bureaucrats explain why they need to take any of that money away.

    "The problem today is that if bathrooms are dirty, whom do the parents blame? Who's in charge? The Principal says 'I don't have enough,' or others make him or her spend the money on something else, everyone blames someone else. Under the system Sen. McClintock supports, if bathrooms are dirty, they'd get cleaned up or the Principal would get fired."

    SB 892 passed the Assembly on Sept. 10 on a 48-28 vote (final passage) with LB area Assemblymembers Lowenthal and Oropeza voting "yes."

    Senator Murray introduced SB 892 following media reports of slumlord type conditions at some southland schools.

    Related developments

    The issue of clean school bathrooms separately arose as one of LB-PV-SP Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal's "there oughta be a law" proposals. Lowenthal introduced a bill (AB 1395, details below) that his office said in a February 2003 press release was "proposed by a group of students from [LB] Poly High School. 'When I heard from the Poly students about the state of their school restrooms, I was shocked and extremely concerned,' said Lowenthal. 'School can be hard enough without needing to worry about non-functioning bathrooms.'"

    Assemblyman Lowenthal's AB 1395 was considerably tamer than SB 892, simply requiring school districts by January 1, 2005 to develop "a plan" (the "Restroom Facilities Improvement and Maintenance (RFIM) Plan") to address problems with school restrooms to meet minimum standards and to "report" on the progress of implementing the plan on a biannual basis at designated school board meetings.

    Assemblyman Lowenthal's bill was held under submission in the Assembly Appropriations in late May...and he joined as a co-author of AB 1124 by Assemblyman Fabian Nunez (D., Boyle Hts/ELA).

    AB 1124, which has also cleared the Assembly and state Senate, requires that State School Deferred Maintenance Funds (DMFs) and maintenance of facilities accounts (MFAs) specified funds be used, as a first priority, for the maintenance of school restroom facilities. Senate amendments specify that DMFs may not be used for regular operational and maintenance costs of restrooms and other facilities, and may be used only for deferred maintenance as defined in statute.

    AB 1124 cleared the Assembly on a 51-24 vote on final passage with LB Assemblymembers Lowenthal and Oropeza voting "yes."

    AB 1124 cleared the Senate on a 24-12 vote on final passage...with LB state Senator Betty Karnette voting "yes." Senator McClintock on voted "no" on AB 1124 on final passage.

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