Prop. 30 Passage Brings Some Relief to OC Schools, But Uncertainty Still Looms

Post-election: Prop 30's impact will vary for Orange County's schools.

Now that Prop. 30 has won voter approval, school districts across Orange County are assessing what the additional revenues might mean for them.

Some districts are more prepared than others, and none expect a windfall.

The Orange County Department of Education insisted school districts plan their budgets this year based on a “worst-case scenario” in case Prop. 30, which temporarily increases taxes on those making $250,000-plus yearly and ups the sales tax slightly, did not pass.

While Prop. 30 carried a mean stick – Gov. Brown said if it didn’t pass, districts would have to shorten their academic calendar by three weeks – it also did not offer much in the way of a carrot..

“Budgeting at the state level continues to be a moving target,” said Laura Boss, spokeswoman for Newport-Mesa Unified School District. “Voters approved Prop. 30 with the anticipation and expectation that dollars will be spent on California’s schools. We remain cautiously optimistic.”

Here’s what the passage of Prop. 30 means at some of our local schools:

Newport-Mesa Unified

Newport-Mesa had determined that if Prop. 30 hadn’t passed, the school district would have had to find $16.5 million in cuts for this year, said spokeswoman Laura Boss. However, the district did not identify where those trims could be made.

“The district is financially solvent for the 2012-13 school year because of cuts we made in prior years,” Boss said, referencing $25 million in past cuts. That doesn’t mean the district doesn’t face challenges, even with Prop. 30.

“As of 2013-14, we face a structural deficit in the amount of $6 million dollars. Specific cuts have not been determined at this time,” Boss said.

Saddleback Valley Unified

Saddleback had built in eight non-teaching furlough days into its budget already, said Tammy Blakely, spokeswoman for the district that serves Lake Forest, Laguna Hills and parts of Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita.

Because Prop. 30 passed, it can put two of those days back on the calendar, she said.

“Prop. 30 prevented further cuts,” Blakely said, calling its passage a relief. “But we still need to address the fact that our district is deficit-spending.”

Los Alamitos Unified

School officials were prepared to cut six days off the school calendar this year had Prop. 30 not passed, said Los Alamitos Superintendent Sherry Kropp. Now it doesn’t have to eliminate any.

Kropp still considers the budget for 2013-14 as a big unknown, despite Prop. 30’s success.

“We will all wait and see the final state budget,” she said.  

Capistrano Unified

The county’s second largest school district cut the school year by five days and vowed to cut 10 more if Prop. 30 didn’t pass.

Still, the district has notified the county that it will need to find $31 million in cuts to balance next year’s budget.

Part of the district’s dilemma stems from the fact that the board and the teachers’ union signed a one-year contract this past year.

Laguna Beach Unified School District

For Laguna Beach students, the passage of Prop. 30 means no programs will have to go on the chopping block.

"With the passage of Prop. 30, we are pleased that we are no longer under the threat of an additional $1.3 million in state funding cuts,” said Dean West, Asst. Superintendent of Business Services for the Laguna Beach Unified School District. “We did not target any program for elimination and our budget was build with the assumption of Prop. 30 passing, so there are no new revenues from our current budget.  As for the confidence question, $6 billion annually can go a long way to helping the State through this difficult period, especially reversing some of the debt it has accumulated."

Sharon Thompson November 13, 2012 at 05:49 PM
We've heard pleas for "the kids" for many years. I remember how the Lottery was going to fund education and there would never be a financial shortage again in our schools and we bit! Anyone who wished to gamble away their money, at least would be giving it to a worthy cause. Well, where did all that money go? Billions of $$$ over the years have gone into the lottery and still the education system is flat broke. When did school districts become so top heavy with administrators, supervisors, etc, etc, which takes money right off the top that should go to the schools? Unless changes are made in the "top-down" educational system I will never vote for increased taxes to fund education. And, unless the CA government can enforce English to enter school and push families to learn and teach English it is a Catch-22 situation and will continue. The problems are so big they seem unsurmountable and the people of my beloved state (I am a 3rd gen Native) have given one party a super-majority. Talk about not voting with you head! My roots run deep in OC and what it and CA have become breaks my heart. But, I will stay because this is my home and I have precious memories of growing up here and have long-standing childhood friends and ties. I continually pray things will change but I don't see that happening with Jerry Brown and the Dems in control.
SC Parent November 13, 2012 at 07:24 PM
So true.
Kathi November 13, 2012 at 08:08 PM
& it seems that they always threaten to cut schools & they do cut there. But I saw a couple of investigative reporting stories by CBS news where they caught 2 different instances of waste in CalTrans locally. 1 was supervisors working on the 91 were taking 2 hr lunches & 2 of them were drinking 2 very large beers & double size of something (& apparently 1 of them drove off after that) while another supervisor was present, not drinking & drove the 3rd supervisor afterwards. They were being fired afterwards. The other instance was that CalTrans leases a bunch of pickups & other vehicles which are supposed to only be for govt use, although it is permissible to drive them home. Well they were caught using them as personal vehicles! Maybe they should just have them use their own vehicles & reimburse biz miles! It seems that when there is a shortfall, they always want to cut programs that are popular, but I don't see much looking to cut waste. Yeah, Brown cut some things early on, but I'm sure there are probably lots more areas of waste. One area is in state govt bonds that have been sold--so interest is being paid to the buyers of the bonds--but the $ is sitting there not being used & there are millions of $ like that. In the past there have also been reports of excess buying of vehicles that sit un-used for years. & yet they want more$ from us rather than cutting the waste!
Homer November 14, 2012 at 04:26 PM
If you look at bonds and tax proposals, you will see that 'essential services' are always threatened with financial losses ( or restrictions ) if the measure is not passed. It's the easiest way to avoid financial responsibility.
Amused November 14, 2012 at 04:56 PM
See for yourself what was paid for by Prop 30.....WASTE of money - how long will you accept being lied to? http://www.geographic.org/country_ranks/educational_score_performance_country_ranks_2009_oecd.html http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/acrossstates/Rankings.aspx?loct=2&by=v&order=a&ind=7247&dtm=14341&tf=868


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