LA SCHOOLS CHIEF SAYS PARCEL TAX THE ONLY WAY TO BALANCE LA UNIFIED BUDGET
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez | KPCC
Jun 19, 2009 -- Los Angeles Unified schools chief Ramon Cortines said today that a parcel tax on next year’s ballot might be the only way to balance the district’s budget in the coming years.
The superintendent said he’s researching the details of the parcel tax proposal. To succeed without a costly campaign, he’d have to secure the support of the school district and outside groups.
The superintendent said he’s researching the details of the parcel tax proposal. To succeed without a costly campaign, he’d have to secure the support of the school district's Board of Trustees as well as other groups.
Ramon Cortines: "I think that means the City Council. I think it means the mayor’s office. I think it means the 28 cities that comprise this school district. It will take everybody."
Cortines warned that budget cuts from Sacramento are so large that in two years, Los Angeles Unified could be forced to cut full-day kindergarten and lay off half the district’s art and music teachers. The school board votes Tuesday on the immediate layoffs of about 2,000 teachers.
VOTERS TOSS SOUTH PASADENA SCHOOLS A LIFESAVER
By Caroline An, Staff Writer | Pasadena Star News
06/19/2009 -- SOUTH PASADENA - South Pasadena's public schools got a big boost from voters, who have approved a parcel tax expected to raise about $2 million a year to save the jobs of at least 19 teachers and counselors, according to final vote results released Friday.
Voters in the South Pasadena Unified School District passed ballot Measure S by 67.7 percent. The measure needed approval of at least two-thirds (66.67%) of voters to pass.
The mail-in ballot election was held Tuesday, but 223 additional mail-in ballots had to be counted before final results could be released, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's Office said.
Parcel owners will pay a $288-per-year tax under Measure S.
"This is exciting. I'm thrilled for our students and for the teachers who will have their jobs back," Superintendent Brian Bristol said.
Saving the teaching positions will allow the district of about 4,200 students to keep smaller class sizes of 20 students per teacher in the elementary grades and in ninth-grade English and math classes, he said.
Had Measure S not passed, those classes would have grown to 30 students.
Earlier this year, the district's school board had voted to eliminate 40 teaching and counseling positions, nearly 20 percent of staff. Bristol said a "minimum" of 19 teachers and counselors will now be brought back this fall.
Library services and visual and performing arts programs also will be restored through Measure S funding.
But Bristol warned that the school board is still discussing potential cuts to those programs. Even with the parcel tax, the district earlier this year had to cut $1 million from a $5.3 million budget for the 2009-10 school year.
More districts may have ask residents to approve parcel taxes simply to "keep the lights on and the doors open," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said Friday.
The South Pasadena district is the second district in the West San Gabriel Valley to seek a parcel tax. Last month, San Marino voters passed Measure E to stave off $5 million in budget cuts. Property owners will pay $795 per year for the next six years under Measure E.
On June 30, the La Cañada Unified School District will hold an election for Measure LC, a parcel tax of $150 per year per property for the next five years that will raise $4.5 million a year.
And on Friday, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines said he will ask that a parcel tax be placed on an upcoming ballot to help the district close a $131.7 million budget deficit.
"Parcel taxes soften the blow for districts," said O'Connell, who is pushing for legislation to lower the passage threshold for parcel taxes from 66 percent to 55 percent.
Even in a recession, voters appear willing to pass bond measures and parcel taxes to help their local schools, he added.
"That's why it's important we reduce the vote threshold," said O'Connell. "The money is spent on local priorities - from class size reduction to career technical education to paying for teacher salaries."