Friday, February 25, 2011

Boardmemeber Galatzan: YOU’RE FRUSTRATED? ME, TOO + smf’s response

from the Galatzan Gazette, the weekly e-newsletter of Schoolboardmember Tamar Galatzan -

Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 5:50PM

I know you are tired and frustrated. You may be an exhausted teacher, waiting for the big-picture philosophical direction, or perhaps even the simple day-to-day guidance from your higher-ups, while fearing the possible arrival of a RIF notice. You may be a principal who leads a life of constantly having too much on your plate, writing emails at 2am, wishing you had a lunch hour, and wondering what's the next direction from the District.  Or you may be the parent who has done the bake sales, the local restaurant fundraiser nights, the PTA/Booster Club/Parent Center thing, and you're beginning to wonder if it's time to leave LAUSD.  I know how you feel, because I, too, am frustrated.

While I am proud of the reform efforts underway in the District, of the extra money provided to non-Title I schools, of the rising test scores and graduation rates, I often leave meetings emotionally drained (and not just because it's flu season). We all want to help our students, but let's agree to use our frustration towards some common goals.

As your Board Member, I cannot increase the State's funding for our schools; I cannot single-handedly impose cost-saving measures with our unions or change the language in the bond measures to free up money.

But, as your Board Member, I can work with our representatives in Sacramento and make a strong case for giving schools greater flexibilities when it comes to funding. I can, and have, worked to expand the Per Pupil Funding Model, which simply allocates funding for each school based on the number of students who attend. I can continue to work to get extra funds for non-Title I schools to operate. And I will keep fighting for the Valley's fair share of bond money.

Do you have more suggestions about what I can do as your School Board Member?  Save the date--Saturday, March 12 from 9-11am for my next Valley Schools Task Force. Don't forget to bring new ideas with you.

- Tamar

2cents smf responds: you write:

"As your Board Member, I cannot increase the State's funding for our schools; I cannot single-handedly impose cost-saving measures with our unions or change the language in the bond measures to free up money."

Democracy being democracy, the single handed part is out of your hands.

And it isn't the bond language that stops bond funds from being used to fill the General Fund shortfall - but the California Constitution and Government Standard Accounting Practices -. which creates a firewall between operating ad capital funding.

There is, however, a strategy that can work and is all quite legal.

It would require going back to the voters in a two step process.

STEP ONE: Measure Q would go back to the voters for reduction from $6 billion to another number - my suggestion would be half: SHALL THE AMOUNT OF THE BONDED INDEBTEDNESS CREATED BY MEASURE Q (2008) BE REDUCED TO $3 BILLION? - This would free up the ability of LAUSD to borrow additional money, by reducing the cap caused by the drop in LA County property tax base and the $6 billion burden imposed by Measure Q. I believe it it would take a 55% vote to make this change.

STEP TWO: There would appear on the same ballot an ad-valarem property tax to generate operations revenue to support the District's General Fund be implemented only if Part 1 passes. This would require a two-thirds vote. - but could be sold to the voter taxpayers as a re-purposing of property tax revenues rather than an increase.

The danger - if it is one - would be that Part One could pass and Part Two fail. Perhaps a clever attorney could write language that inextricably ties the implementation of the two parts together - I'm not sure.

THE CAVEAT IS POLITICAL. Raises beyond COLA in anyone's salary should be off the table. Adequate funding for M&O and Safety needs to be guaranteed. - not guaranteeing jobs but guaranteeing adequate maintenance and cleanliness of facilities and the safety of children. There needs to be a separate Independent Oversight Committee for the new operations funding. Support - if any - of charter schools needs to be clear and defined - if they wish to participate they need to be accountable. Benchmarks and accountability and a plan for everyone must be in place.

No comments: