School district pins hopes on propositions

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comOctober 20, 2012 

As the Los Banos Unified School District braces for record enrollment with fewer dollars, officials are hoping voters pass one or both education-related state propositions on the ballot.

Superintendent Steve Tietjen said the state takes 22 cents of each dollar that is supposed to go toward schools. That is in addition to California's plans to decrease average daily attendance dollars by $451 per student and what have become annual deferrals of 40 percent of promised revenue.

"If you can imagine your boss saying, 'I'm not going to pay you 40 percent of your salary next year, but you aren't going to know what that is until August' -- how do you plan?" Tietjen said.

The school district has a record 9,700 students this year and is likely to hit 10,000 in the next few years.

He said as it stands now, the district could face a $2 million deficit within the next two years that could result in program and employee reductions.

"I don't think we can run that kind of deficit two years in a row," he said.

Tietjen is hoping Proposition 30 or 38 is passed by voters in November, allowing the district's financial burden to ease.

Proposition 30, backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would increase sales tax by a penny for every $4 spent for the next four years and increase income tax on Californians making more than $500,000 for seven years. It would generate about $6 billion per year for schools and colleges as well as other state services.

Proposition 38, backed by civil rights attorney Molly Munger, would increase the personal income tax on nearly all Californians for 12 years. The proposition would raise about $10 billion per year. Most of the money would have to be spent on public schools.

Tietjen said he's backing both propositions but prefers Proposition 30 because it eliminates the $451 ADA reduction, which translates to $4.2 million for the Los Banos school district.

It also would decrease deferrals to the district from 40 percent to 20 percent.

Tietjen said Proposition 38 would keep the ADA reduction in place and allow the governor to withhold funding to solve budget issues. Tietjen said he recommends Los Banosans vote for both propositions because he would rather one of them pass, ensuring the school district gets some funding back.

If both propositions pass, the one that garners the most votes will become law.

Trustees John Mueller and Dennis Areias are supporting the propositions, but with reservations.

"I would wholeheartedly support another tax if I knew the money was going to (where it's needed)..." Mueller said. "but we have to be supportive because it's the only way we're going to get money for our kids."

Areias is asking voters to support the propositions, not the politicians.

"Do you think we're not being taxed enough? We all need to go out and vote. We need to pass the proposition where the money will go to the schools to get what our children need to get a good education. But we need to replace everybody in Sacramento who had anything to do with it," Areias said.

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