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School district supports Proposition 30

Superintendent says $6.5 million would need to be cut if it doesn’t pass
By: Patty McAlpin Lincoln News Messenger Reporter Patty McAlpin Lincoln News Messenger Reporter
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The school board voted 4 to 1 Tuesday night to support a measure on the November ballot that would increase taxes to fund schools if approved by voters statewide. The dissenting vote came from Damian Armitage, president of the Western Placer Unified School District’s board. “I support the district and the teachers but I don’t like the way the governor and the Legislature is going about this,” Armitage said. “Taxes should not be raised in this economy.” Proposition 30 is labeled on the County of Placer Sample Ballot as temporary taxes to fund education. This tax, if approved, would increase taxes on earnings over $250,000 for seven years and sales taxes by ¼ cent for four years, to fund schools. The ballot language says the fiscal impact would increase state tax revenues through 2018-19, averaging about $6 billion annually over the next few years. In 2012-13, planned spending reductions, primarily to education programs, would not occur. Board member Paul Carras said he only voted in favor of supporting the measure because he could see no other way to avoid further budget cuts. Armitage said balancing the budget by increasing class sizes and employee reductions is not acceptable. The district is already looking at making $5 to $6 million in cuts to the 2013-14 district budget, according to Carras. Superintendent Scott Leaman said the failure of Proposition 30 would mean a loss of $1,156,000 to the district. If Proposition 30 does not pass, the district would need to cut $6.5 million from the 2013-14 district budget, Leaman said. According to the resolution passed by the board, if Californians fail to pass a tax initiative in November, the state faces a $9 billion deficit with K-12 schools facing about $5 billion in midyear cuts and Proposition 30 is the only initiative that will prevent $6 billion in trigger cuts and increase school funding by billions of dollars starting this year. Since the onset of the state’s financial crisis in 2008, public schools statewide have experienced unprecedented funding reductions and apportionment referrals totaling more than $20 billion, according to the resolution. For the Western Placer district from 2008 to present, Leaman said, the district has cut $7,611,000 on an ongoing basis and each year made multiple one-time cuts totaling $7 million. One of the areas affected by decreased funding for schools is the adoption of new textbooks. There will be no new textbook adoptions until 2015 because new textbooks for grades kindergarten to eight must be approved by the state, said Mary Boyle, district assistant superintendent of educational services. The school board unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday stating sufficient textbooks and instructional materials aligned to the academic content and consistent with the cycles and content of the curriculum frameworks were provided to students, including English learners, in the district. “We typically have to replace used and worn out materials every year,” Boyle said, “but there are no new adoptions because of the budget crunch.”