Ross Valley School District officials want community members to understand the major financial implications that could result from state Proposition 30 and 38, rival school funding measures on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Jim Cerreta, Ross Valley School District business manager, gave one of the district’s 11 scheduled presentations on the topic to the San Anselmo Town Council on Sept. 25. There are three more opportunities to see the talk this month – see details below.
The bottom line, according to Cerreta, is that if Prop. 30 doesn’t pass, the district will be subject to cuts of more than $900,000.
Prop. 30’s similar but competing measure, Prop. 38, would create new funding of approximately $1,000 per pupil to schools within the district. Since the school district’s enrollment is around 2,230, Prop. 38 would bring about $2.2 million to district schools.
But if Prop. 38 wins, the $2.2 million would be offset by the $900,000 the district will lose with Prop. 30’s failure, according to Cerreta. (The measure with the greatest number of votes will be implemented – they each require a simple majority to pass).
Also, Cerreta said the Prop. 38 funds would be funneled directly to schools instead of the school district.
Ross Valley School District would be more affected than other Marin school districts by the failure of Prop. 30 because it’s one of the county’s three "revenue limit" districts (the others are Novato Unified School District and San Rafael Elementary School District). Unlike all the other basic aid districts in the county that are mainly funded through property taxes, the revenue limit districts rely on a larger amount of funds from the state.
Prop. 30 is a combination of new taxes and an extension of some taxes that are about to expire, according to Cerreta. Backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, it would raise the sales tax by one-quarter of one cent for four years while increasing personal income taxes for Californians who earn over $250,000 for seven years.
Those who support it, like the California Teachers’ Association, argue its failure would have a devastating impact on schools.
What would $900,000 in cuts mean to RVSD students?
According to Cerreta, the impact could include:
- Reduce the number of instructional days by 20
- Increase class sizes
- Cut library staffing
- Reduce the district’s ability to recruit and retain teachers
- Create cuts to classroom maintenance budgets
- Reduce the opportunity to implement technology in the classroom
Prop 38 has been primarily financed by Pasadena attorney Molly Munger, whose father Charles Munger is the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, the investment corporation chaired by Warren Buffett. The proposal, supported by the California PTA which worked with Munger on the measure, aims to increase personal income taxes using a sliding scale, with a single filer earning as little as $17,346 per year, for example, seeing higher taxes, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.
Prop. 30 backers are playing hard ball. Supporters of Gov. Brown have started a committee called Stop the Middle Class Tax Hike - No on Prop. 38 to oppose the plan. For her part, Munger has funded a TV advertising campaign against Prop. 30, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
A “yes” vote on Prop. 30 means “the new tax revenues would be available to fund programs in the state budget,” according to California's official Voter Information Guide. A "no" vote means state budget cuts, which would primarily impact education programs, would take effect in 2012 to 2013.
According to the guide, a "yes" vote on Prop 38 means personal income tax rates would guarantee new funding to restore budget cuts and improve educational results. A "no" vote would mean no additional revenue from the measure would be available for schools, child care, preschool, and state debt payments.
The next Ross Valley School District presentations on the fiscal impact of November propositions are set for
- Wednesday, Oct. 17, at noon, at a Rotary Club of Ross Valley meeting at the Steakhouse Bar and Grill at Deer Park Villa, 367 Bolinas Road, in Fairfax
- Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 3:30 p.m., at the Manor School site council meeting at the Manor School Library, 150 Oak Manor Drive, in Fairfax
- Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m., at the RVSD Board of Trustees meeting at the RVSD office in the conference room, 110 Shaw Drive, San Anselmo.