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The State of SPUSD’s Budget

The district is at risk of losing $4 million annually. These cuts would mean a decrease in faculty and increase in classroom sizes. Are you willing to pay more taxes to offset these costs?

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.

The Situation

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.

The Taxes

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.

To take the poll, click here.

“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?

marilohr June 20, 2012 at 03:24 PM
How did SPUSD get to this deficit state?
Janet Cartwright June 20, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Did you read the article?
tburns June 20, 2012 at 09:01 PM
20% reduction in funding from the state for the last 5 years and 40% of those remaining funds deferred payments until the next fiscal year.
Kristen Lepore (Editor) June 20, 2012 at 09:18 PM
@Mari: With limited revenue sources, the district relies heavily on state funding—which, like tburns mentions, has been cut in recent years. This link provides details on the state budget and education funding: http://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/fr/eb/ Perhaps I should have included Sonner's complete quote in the above article: "If the Parcel Tax and the Governor's tax initiative both pass, then we would have flat funding. If they both fail, then we would have nearly $4 million in budget cuts. This would mean cutting over 10% of our budget after having unprecedented cuts to education funding over the last 3 years. It's hard to imagine how bad that would be for our children and for our future."
Ddez June 21, 2012 at 12:24 AM
There will be another tax initiative on the ballot in November. It is the California State PTA supported, "Our Children, Our Future". If this initiative passes, SPUSD funding will be increased by $3,743,536 in 2013-2014, $6,512,063 by 2017-2018 and $8,809,767 by the time it sunsets in 2014. This revenue goes directly to school sites, without passing through Sacramento's sticky fingers. Parent, teacher and community input re how the money should be spent is mandated. The money can be used to improve student performance by funding: 1. instruction in the arts, physical education, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, history, civics, financial literacy, English and foreign languages, and technical, vocational or career education; 2. smaller class sizes; 3. more counselors, librarians, school nurses and other support staff at the school site; 4. extended learning time through longer school days or longer school years, summer school, preschool, after school enrichment programs and tutoring; 5. additional social and academic support for English language learners, low income students and students with special needs; 6. alternative education models that build students' capacity for critical thinking and creativity; and 7. more communication and engagement with parents. The California School Boards Association and the CA PTA both support "Our Children, Our Future." You can read more about "Our Children, Our Future" here: http://ourchildrenourfuture2012.com/
Ddez June 21, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Meant to say that the initiative will sunset in 2024, not 2014.
Gary Rowe June 21, 2012 at 05:02 AM
SPUSD School Board President Rich Sonner has it exactly right: our school system faces dire financial prospects if we fail to renew the parcel tax and pass the revenue-raising measure proposed by Governor Brown. Unfortunately, there will be, as Deb McCurdy notes, a rival measure on November’s ballot. Sponsored by Molly Munger and endorsed by the state PTA, this initiative would also raise taxes to fund the schools. Is it better than the Governor’s? That’s not the point. Running two tax measures at the same time poses a serious risk: experts think that doing so makes it more likely that both will fail, and they point out that the Munger proposal has long been trailing significantly in the polls. Given the current tough economic times, the Munger measure faces an uphill battle, since, unlike the Governor’s focus on the highest earners, it raises nearly everyone’s taxes. The Monterey Hills PTA, of which I am a member, declined to stand with the state PTA on this matter. Instead, in a May letter, it urged the California PTA to bring Munger and the Governor together to ensure that only one tax-increase initiative would appear on the November ballot. The California PTA declined to do so, and now there will be two such measures on the ballot. If both measures fail, there will be no way to avoid the drastic cuts that Mr. Sonner and Mr. Shapiro describe in the article. In that event, our children will pay the price for the California PTA’s gamble.
Marvion June 21, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Drastic cuts are necessary. Why have there been so many employee buyouts. System does not work.
Ddez June 21, 2012 at 06:54 AM
@ Gary Rowe -- You neglect to mention that the governor's tax initiative raises everyone's sales tax by .25%. So, the governor is raising taxes on EVERYONE in these "current tough economic times".
SP mom June 21, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Employee buyouts? The purpose of the retirement incentive was to save the district money by hiring younger, less expensive teachers to replace the retiring, top of the salary schedule teachers. It was a win-win for the teachers/employees retiring as well as providing cost savings for the district......
Kristen Lepore (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 08:15 PM
More info on measures you'll be voting for in November: http://patch.com/A-vzYV
Mother of 3 in SoPas June 22, 2012 at 04:36 AM
@ Deb McCurdy via Gary Rowe -- Yes, Governor Brown's initiative will raise the sales tax .25% on everyone. A consumer tax isn't necessarily the worst way to show, as you (Deb) have indicated in many comments on articles such as these, that people really care about our schools enough to do something about it. I am quite satisfied, given the dismal outlook on our entire state's budget in many concerning areas, that a consumer tax is a fairer (albeit not without flaws) to spread the cost of enjoying this wonderful state to all who enjoy it as residents. I'd think that perhaps, a sales tax or "consumer tax", would be right up the alley of social-justice proponents and others who consider purchases as choices. I am the 1%. I know that this is important to our public schools and all of the children attending them. I am OK with being taxed more for my consumption. On another note, why is it that California State PTA has not stepped aside so that the focus can be, well, focused? What we have to worry about is that NOTHING will pass. Isn't PTA, certainly out-of-sync with the teacher component which has apparently aligned with our Governor, somewhat risking the breach of their mission to advocate on behalf of parents, teachers and students, by trying to perfect the tax initiative (with the likely effect of diluting passage of the Governor's initiative)?
Ddez June 22, 2012 at 07:34 PM
I mentioned that Gary neglected to include the governor's increased sales tax because in his comment he said that the "Our Children, Our Future" initiative may have an uphill battle due to the fact that it taxes everyone. By increasing the sales tax, the governor is also taxing everyone and so, he too may have an uphill battle. In fact, it's clear that his uphill battle has already begun. Right now the governor's initiative is polling at 52%, down from 64% -- and the hard campaigning hasn't even started yet. My personal opinion is, if the governor's initiative fails, it will fail on it's own, not because there was a competing measure on the ballot. And I hesitate to even say "competing", because the two initiatives actually are very different. The governor's will bolster the general fund and help balance the state budget and "Our Children, Our Future" will bolster our schools. The language in the governor's initiative does not guarantee money for our schools, the language in "Our Children, Our Future" does -- and it's additional money. The governor's initiative will keep our per pupil spending flat. "Our Children, Our Future" increases student spending.
Ddez June 22, 2012 at 07:53 PM
@ Mother of 3 in SoPAs (cont'd) As far as PTA stepping aside, I'm not quite sure what you mean. The CA PTA decided to support The Molly Munger "Our Children, Our Future" initiative after reading the initiatives because it felt it was the best one for our students. If PTA dropped its support of the initiative today, little would change. Molly Munger is a civil rights attorney who feels that adequately funded schools are a civil right. She is putting her own money into this campaign. PTA isn't contributing a dime. What PTA is doing, is educating voters about the initiative and telling people why it supports it. The CA PTA is supporting it because it values all of the programs and people that have been cut from our schools over the years -- and I'm not just talking about South Pasadena. We have been lucky here with our community's generous donations, our last parcel tax and the fact that we had a healthy reserve fund. Many other school districts aren't as fortunate. But even South Pasadena is being stretched at this point, as you can see from our outstanding $700,000 loan and the fact that we had to file a "qualified budget". As for PTA's mission, it is very simple -- "Every Child, One Voice". PTA is the voice for the children. Teachers and parents have their own voices, means and ability to advocate for themselves. However, our mission does include helping parents and teachers advocate for -- you guessed it -- the children.
Gary Rowe June 25, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Should the two measures that will appear on the November ballot both fail, we will face devastating cuts: layoffs, furloughs, increased class sizes. In light of this risk, flat funding – which Deb McCurdy decries -- would be a dream come true. What can we do, then, to minimize the risk of disaster? The surest way would have been to have just one tax-increase measure on the ballot. Experts believe and common sense dictates that multiple measures that raise taxes are likely to confuse voters and give piles of ammunition to the powerful anti-tax forces in the state. The California PTA can continue to wish that it were otherwise. But wishing doesn’t make it so. The state PTA’s position matters to a lot of voters. But it is not too late for the California PTA to step back from the brink and push for the passage of the Brown initiative, as if everything depended on it doing so. Because it does.
Marvion June 25, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Better yet. Get the SPUSD parking lot robo signed!
Ddez July 07, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Interesting recent Field Poll concerning the governor's tax initiative vis a vis the high speed rail project (that was just approved today). According to the poll: "A wide range of California voters are willing to give Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative the support it needs in November, but that could change in a hurry if the Legislature approves billions of dollars for the proposed high-speed rail project later this week, a new Field Poll shows. More than a fifth of those voters backing Brown's tax plan, which would temporarily boost the sales tax by one-quarter of one cent and increase state income tax for those making more than $250,000 a year, say they would be less likely to support it if the state starts spending money on high-speed rail." http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Rail-project-could-knock-tax-vote-off-track-3684826.php The governor may have just successfully undercut the chances of his own tax initiative passing. Unfortunately, our students will pay the price.

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