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Local Bond Funds Rescue CAMS Construction

A major setback from the State Allocation Board had placed in jeopardy the ambitious fundraising and bright hopes of building permanent classrooms this year at the California Academy of Mathematics and Science on the campus at CSU Dominguez Hills. CAMS has operated from dilapidated bungalows there for a decade. Principal Kathleen Clark and staff worked for the past four years to raise half of the nearly $8 million needed for the 18 new classrooms, computer labs and college counseling center. Then came the bad news. Lawyers from the State Allocation Board said that the state would not provide matching funds because a school district did not own the college property on which the new school would be built. State legislation would have to be approved to allow the state matching funds. The school was in danger of losing its major donations. At that point, the Long Beach Unified School District came to the rescue. From local Measure A school bond funds, the district is advancing $4 million so that the construction contract and groundbreaking will proceed on schedule this spring. "We stepped up to the plate and took a prudent risk," said Tomio Nishimura, chief business and financial officer. "We expect the needed legislation to be enacted this year and to receive reimbursement of the funds the district has advanced. If we had not acted now, the construction would have been canceled." The permanent CAMS buildings will break ground this spring. Completion is expected within 18 months. In the meantime, efforts are continuing to introduce and pass legislation that will remedy the oversight in state law that was supposed to streamline local applications for state school bonds. Instead, it almost stopped a new school from being built--exactly the opposite of what the state school bond laws were intended to do.