Props 30, 38 Examined During District Budget Workshop

Roughly 100 people—many of them teachers—turned out to hear the state of Murrieta Valley Unified's budget that, according to administrators, may get worse if statewide voter Proposition 30 does not pass in November.

Murrieta teacher Lisa Amstutz is already planning a drastic cut to her family budget come December.

“I’m really anxious, I am already losing sleep over it,” Amstutz said, following a budget workshop held Thursday by the Murrieta Valley Unified School District.

Roughly 100 people—many of them teachers—turned out to hear the state of the district’s budget that, according to administrators, may get worse if statewide voter Proposition 30 does not pass in November.

“We don’t live extravagantly; we drive an 8-year-old car and a 6-year-old car,” Amstutz said, noting that her husband who also teaches in the district has received pink slips the last three of six years.

That is about when the district starting facing a loss of revenue from the state, Assistant Superintendent Stacy Coleman told those in attendance.

Since 2007, the district has lost $139 million in revenue and made $105 million in cost-saving measures, he said.

“It is like they took a whole fiscal year out of the last five years, that is how drastic the cuts have been,” Coleman said.

Superintendent Pat Kelley, who had encouraged the public to attend the workshop and is hosting a series of community forums, said further cuts have the potential to affect the caliber of education that brought many families to Murrieta.

“That quality of education that brought us here is under attack,” Kelley said, noting the district will have spent down all of its reserves by the end of 2012 and used all of its one-time fund mechanisms.

The district is facing an $11 million shortfall for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, administrators said, which is expected to increase to $21 million should Prop 30 not pass in November.

This is because there are mid-year triggers—should Prop 30 not pass—built in at the state level that for the district would mean the loss of $10 million in the current fiscal year and next, district officials said.

Prop 30 vs. 38

While both are geared to help education, they would affect the district in very different ways, administrators said.

Prop 38, endorsed by the California PTA, is a tax increase of .4 percent for the lowest income earners and up to 2.2 percent for those who earn more than $2.5 million a year. It would send approximately $1,000 per student to each school site for the next 12 years.

Prop 30, endorsed by the California Teachers Association, is a state constitutional amendment that calls for 1/4-cent statewide sales tax increase and a 1- to 3-percent income tax increase on those who earn more than $250,000 a year.

If both propositions pass in November, the one with the greater amount of votes goes into effect.

If that is Prop 38, Coleman said the district’s general fund would not see any relief.

If Prop 30 passes, it means the district will not be dealt the additional $10 million per year blow, he said.

The district has not taken a formal stance on either proposition, and Coleman said it was not his intention to persuade voters.

The Murrieta Teachers Association, however, was not shy about which proposition it supports.

Kathy Ericson, president of the Murrieta Teachers Association, said Prop 38 was well intended but it does not stop the cuts from hitting the district’s pocketbook.

The mid-year cuts would trigger an additional six days taken off this school year—from 175 to 169—according to the teacher’s union agreement with the district, she said.

Teachers would face additional days bringing the total to nine furloughs, Ericson said.

“If prop 30 doesn’t pass, those cuts by law are automatic,” Ericson said. “So Prop 30 is the only one that can keep us from facing that $21 million shortfall."

Ericson said it is believed Prop 38 can not be used to keep teachers employed or hire new ones in order to reduce class sizes back to previous levels.

"With Prop 38 there are limits. It was well intended, but we are in the business of educating kids and it takes teachers and support staff to be able to do that."

Preparing for More Cuts

The district has cut in all possible areas, Coleman said.

Ongoing budget cuts, he said, include increased class sizes, fewer days in the school year, early retirement incentives, not replacing vacant positions, department and school site budget reductions, sweeping of flexible program funds, installing solar panels, and utilizing reserve funds.

Coleman shared a list of what other districts have done or are considering due to further revenue reductions and shortfalls. These include: fewer school days, increased class sizes, cutting extracurricular activities, cutting programs, cutting busing, closing schools, layoffs or a parcel tax on residents.

Board member Margi Wray said the community—through a process yet to be established—will be asked for their input on potential cuts.

Board member Kris Thomasian said the savings from each furlough day—$635,000—can not make up the potential gap in funding.

Kelley said though it was not a subject he wanted to broach at his first board meeting as superintendent, it was necessary.

Key dates, district officials said, are the Nov. 6 election and January, when the governor is expected to released his budget proposal for next fiscal year.

“We do not have to decide what these cuts are today,” Kelley said. “But we must keep our community informed.”

Chris Lindberg October 15, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Prop 30 will cost about $40 to $60 annually for California families. Even if you bought a $30,000 car, you'd only pay $75 more dollars over the course of payments. You are making a philosophical comment, not a practical comment. You would not notice the difference in what you're paying at all.
Leigh Scragg October 16, 2012 at 07:01 AM
The 47/50 ranking pertains to dollars received by the schools. It has nothing to do with test scores or academic achievement. Currently there are only 3 states that have a lower per student funding than CA, however California ranks in the top 12% of the nation in standardized test scores (if you value those). I wont tell anyone how to vote, as that is a personal choice, just wanted to clarify that darn statistic.
The Republican October 16, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Larry Bird obviously you have not been doing your research. Look at the administrative salaries of LAUSD and SDUSD (Over 200k) then go to the UC and State college systems (where the 400k salaries are). Then go to the community college system (over 200k). The salary range I listed was very accurate. My 47 out of 50 quote IS BASED on performance and not dollars. It is not based on a TV ad either. If you want me to do your research for you I can gladly make you look bad and point you to sources of that stat. Larry Bird all those people have "families, mortgages, and lives of their own" and taxpayers that pay those salaries have the right to question why we are getting such a low rate of return for such absurdly high salaries. Taxpayers " have families, mortgages, and lives of their own. I would like to see your wages be taken away ( from higher taxes and lower wages) from you year after year and still be effective in your jobs." Larry Bird you arrogantly act like only teachers are facing your situation. The rest of us that support your salary want accountability in our schools and right now it does not exist. There are a few " BAD APPLES " but the teachers union and its obsolete and archaic rules makes removing horrible teacher a near impossible task. Cuts can be made and I seriously cannot shed a tear because the pain that administrators and teachers have felt is so small that their ridiculously huge outcry sounds like the whining of a toddler child.
Diane October 19, 2012 at 04:36 AM
Cry me a river. Join the club, teachers. We can't pay your salaries, because WE don't have jobs! And Chris Lindberg - oh, it will only cost $60-$70 a year. Really? Did you also get hit with the $150.00 fire tax like I did? We are getting taxed left and right and it's not fair!
Milan Moravec October 20, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Democrats and Republicans can help with Prop 30, 38. Create California’s future. Vote No on Prop 30, 38, 32. Keep the California dream alive and well. Decisions you make on Nov 6 determine California’s course for years. We are kidding ourselves by believing that education funding shortfalls disappear with Prop 30, Prop 38. Prop 30, Prop 38 levy significant taxes on each one of us. The wounds that Prop 30, 38 are to heal have been self inflicted largely by our elected Sacramento politicians who simply do not say no to any influential interest group be they, University of California (29% increase in salaries last 6 years), public employees, business, teachers, or other unions or lobbyists. And now Prop 30, 38 are used by Sacramento politicians and lobbyists to blackmail us


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