Across California, funding-starved schools are crossing their fingers in hope that voters will approve one or two state propositions designed to provide revenue for education.
“Propositions 30 and 38 passing would help stop the hemorrhaging from public education that has been happening over the past six years,” said Kathi Emerson, superintendent of the Mount Shasta and Weed union school districts. “They’re a short term solution to help us get through the next few years until the economy can improve.”
Though only one of the measures would take effect even if both win voter approval on the Nov. 6 general election ballot, most school districts are voicing their support for both.
Organizations including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the National Federation of Independent Business California and the Small Business Action Committee argue that Prop. 30 doesn’t guarantee any new funding for schools and includes no reform, according to stopprop30.com.
The California Farm Bureau, the California Chamber of Commerce and other organizations are banding together to oppose Proposition 38, arguing that if passed, it would increase taxes for middle class families at almost the same rate as millionaires, according to stopthemiddleclasstaxhike.com.
Affects to schools
If voters reject the propositions, superintendent Mike Matheson says Siskiyou Union High School District will be forced to cut as many as five days from the school calendar, eliminate transportation for spring athletics, and whittle down the already slim supply budget.
“We’ve built trigger cuts into our budget,” Matheson said. “Passing of these propositions would mean increased revenue so not only would we not have to make cuts, we could bring some things back.”
Emerson said the MSUSD and WUESD have both prepared for the worst case scenario and have already made painful cuts. If either proposition passes, they would be able to hire back laid off teachers, reinstate full time PE, and add enrichment and intervention programs.
Education depends on a healthy economy,” Emerson said. “Over the past six years, the poor economy has been starving the schools down to bare bones.”
Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, formally “Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act,” would provide revenue to the General Fund first, and then to education (including public colleges and universities) and public safety programs. The measure would mean a temporary .25 percent increase in sales tax, as well as a hike in personal income taxes for those who make more than $250,000 annually.
The sales tax hike would sunset in 2017; the personal income tax hike would sunset in 2019.
Prop. 30 would raise $6.8-9 billion in 2012-2014 and $5.4-6.7 billion annually through 2015-16.
Page 2 of 3 - Approximately 40 percent of the revenues would be allocated to K-14 schools, per Proposition 98, the CSBA states.
The measure would also dedicate about $6 billion annually from the vehicle license feel to local government so cover the costs of state programs that have shifted to local jurisdictions, such as housing inmates in county jails instead of state prisons, according to the Attorney General.
If voters reject Proposition 30, trigger cuts in the amount of almost $6 billion would go into effect automatically. A large portion of those cuts would be to education, and local school districts have already planned for this reduced funding.
If triggered, the California State University system would need to hike tuition five percent immediately, according to information from the CSBA.
Proposition 38, known as “Our Children Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Investment Act,” was put forward by attorney Molly Munger. Tax dollars gathered under 38 would go directly to K-12 schools. For the first four years of the 12 year tax, it would also provide $1 billion annually for early childhood education programs and $3 billion annually to help ease the state’s budget crisis, according to the California School Board Association, though no funding would go to colleges and universities.
Proposition 38’s funding would come from an increase in personal income taxes that would begin in 2013 and sunset in 2025. Rates would vary, but would increase from a low of 0.4 percent for single taxpayers earning more than $7,316 in taxable income to a high of 2.2 percent for single taxpayers earning more than $2.5 million.
Prop. 38 would raise an estimated $5 billion in 2012-2013 and approximately $10 billion annually beginning in 2013-2014.
What local students have to lose
At Mount Shasta Elementary School, there are some large class sizes this year, said Emerson, including 30 student third grade and kindergarten classes. In addition, PE has been reduced by 50 percent, Emerson said.
Though it appears Mount Shasta Elementary still has a viable music program, Emerson said music teacher Carol Taforo’s position is currently being funded through donations, and those donated funds will run out by the election.
“If the propositions pass, we’re first going to look at hiring back teachers to reduce class sizes, bring back PE, and also to make Carol Taforo’s position a district funded one,” Emerson said.
At Weed Elementary School, Emerson said they’d look at adding intervention and enrichment programs that are currently lacking. The budget at the WUESD is currently at bare bones, though Emerson said the school is doing a good job of keeping class sizes small and working to have a rich everyday classroom environment to make up for the lack of intervention programs.
Page 3 of 3 - In March, the SUHSD board made the decision to close Siskiyou Adult School, reorganize the superintendent and district office staffing, and reduce custodial services, among other smaller cuts to accommodate for the looming trigger cuts. They also agreed on a set of further cuts that will go into effect if Propositions 30 and/or 38 aren’t successful. Those cuts are as follows:
• Reduction of the 2012/2013 instructional calendar by up to five days
• Reduction of board benefits by an amount equal to the percentage of cut per employee because of the reduction of days
• Reduction of the remainder of the Acme Computer contract
• Elimination of district support for all spring athletics and relying on community support and volunteerism to continue spring sports programs, including baseball, track, golf, tennis, etc.
• Further reductions in site and district supplies
• Reductions in maintenance and custodial services for the summer of 2013
Emerson said she’s concerned the students of today aren’t getting as rich of an education as those who were in school a decade ago.
“Propositions 30 and 38 would help give these students a better chance at a competitive education,” she said.