is asking residents to support two tax initiatives this year that together rake in about $4 million of the district's annual budget of $32 million.
“If the [Measure M] Parcel Tax and [Gov. Jerry Brown's] tax initiative both pass, then we would have flat funding. If they both fail … It's hard to imagine how bad that would be for our children and for our future,” said SPUSD board member Richard Sonner.
With a current budget deficit of $800,000, SPUSD was assigned a by the California Department of Education in March, “meaning what we spend exceeds what we bring in,” explained Superintendent Joel Shapiro.
The district’s deficit is expected to grow to $2.2 million next school year and $4.6 million in 2013-14, according to its second interim report released in March. This means the amount of money in reserves will fall from the current 21 percent to 9.5 percent in 2012-13 and -9 percent in 2013-14.
These numbers do not include state funding for increased enrollment and donations from said Shapiro.
If the governor’s initiative "The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012" doesn’t pass in November, the district will lose between $440 and $450 per pupil or a total of $1.8 to $2 million annually.
The proposed ballot measure would raise California sales tax by one half cent, bringing the total sales tax rate to a statewide average of 8.6 percent and would be in effect for four years. It also increases personal income tax rates on incomes over $250,000 for five years. The personal income tax increase would also be retroactive to January 2012.
The district’s Measure S Parcel Tax, which sunsets in June 2013, raises approximately $1.9 million per year. Under this 4-year special tax, households of a single dwelling parcel pay $288 annually while occupants of multi-unit properties are responsible for $95 per unit.
Residents will vote whether or not to renew it in February, but not all seem to be convinced it is needed. In a Patch poll this February, 80 percent of respondents said they would not vote in favor of the tax come the following year.
“We are a small district without the resources and infrastructure to promote or expand programs,” said SPUSD board president Joe Loo of the need for this money.
The Revenue Streams
The district does bring in revenue from the —$318,000 will be collected in rent for 2012-13.
Additional revenue streams have been discussed, said Sonner. But the only one actively being considered is developing the district office parking lot, which currently generates $100,000 annually through rental to film production companies.
“The district office parking lot is a long-term resource, and any potential development would be intended to provide long-term benefit, not a short-term budget fix,” explained Sonner.
Even if the district did agree upon one of the , it would be at least three years before it saw any money, said Shapiro. Plus, in March that it was best to hold out on development until the economy approves.
The Potential Aftermath
These $4 million cuts would mean a decrease in faculty and increase in classroom sizes, said Shapiro.
With the parcel tax funding over 30 jobs district-wide, 20 elementary teacher positions would have to be eliminated. This would bring K-3 student to teacher ratios from 20 to 1 to 30 to 1.
“We have been able been able to maintain classroom size reduction in kindergarten through third grade at 20 to 1. We’ve been able to avoid the massive kinds of cuts that other districts have faced, but because of these two factors I have mentioned … we are going to be in a bad position if those don’t continue,” stressed Shapiro.
Patch Asks: Will you vote in favor of these tax initiatives? How important is education funding to you and your family?