Capitol Alert

California school trustees get in gratis to Prop. 51 fundraiser

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson greets his supporters during an election night watch party at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento, Calif., on Nov. 4, 2014. This year, Torlakson is a leading in the campaign to pass a $9 billion school bond.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson greets his supporters during an election night watch party at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento, Calif., on Nov. 4, 2014. This year, Torlakson is a leading in the campaign to pass a $9 billion school bond. Aseng@sacbee.com

State schools chief Tom Torlakson will headline a Fresno fundraiser next week to help Proposition 51, the $9 billion school construction bond on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Tickets are $500, with event sponsorships to Thursday’s fundraiser topping out at $25,000.

School board members, though, needn’t worry about the entrance fee. They get in free.

Backers of the school bond have raised more than $7 million since last year, with much of the money coming from home builders, developers, school construction companies and others who regularly have business before school districts and their elected officials.

Lisa Kaplan, a Natomas school board member who is helping to organize the Fresno event, said any school official or worker can attend the fundraiser for free. Organizers, she said, want to promote Proposition 51 among local school officials and encourage them to pass resolutions supporting the bond measure.

It’s not the goal, she added, to fill a room with school board members so donors can get face time. “There’s no conflict,” said Kaplan, the former assistant executive officer of the state board that distributes school bond money.

Gov. Jerry Brown has been critical of the $9 billion bond measure, but so far there is no organized opposition. A public poll in April found that 63 percent of likely voters supported the bond.

Next week’s fundraiser is for Torlakson’s recently created ballot-measure committee, Invest in California, not the most active Proposition 51 committee, Californians for Quality Schools.

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