Here is an editorial that appeared in the Monday January 19 edition of The Daily Breeze.
Taxpayer well running dry
Proposed LAUSD parcel tax for school operations is premature.
Daily Breeze Editorial
Posted: 01/18/2009 07:30:33 PM PST
Barely two months since Los Angeles Unified School District officials convinced voters to allocate an additional $7billion of their money for an ambitious school-improvement plan, the officials are at it again.
In the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, officials who have secured about $22 billion in construction bonds from property owners in the district in recent years are thinking of passing the hat again.
So what's this new measure for? The district wants a parcel tax to pay for operating expenses -- like administrators' six-figure salaries, consultant fees and teacher pay. These are the things that are supposed to be funded by the property tax bills we already pay.
The problem is that the LAUSD is feeling the same pain as every other California governmental agency, from the state down to cities. Tax revenue is down all around, and everyone's hurting. LAUSD officials expect $400million less from Sacramento than they had anticipated.
But rather than cut expenses, scale back the bloated bureaucracy or programs, they just ask for more.
And we thought former Superintendent David Brewer III was living in a fantasy world when he suggested last summer that what the LAUSD really needed was an additional $60 billion in the next decade - not just the $7 billion he was pushing for at that time. Just to put that in perspective, it's more than $85,000 per student -- or perhaps even more per student because the LAUSD's enrollment is decreasing all the time.
We might as well use the money to simply pay for the college education of every kid in Los Angeles and save kids the experience of attending the LAUSD's schools.
Most unfortunately, the parcel tax proposal is being floated by new Superintendent Ray Cortines, who has promised to downsize the administration while protecting the classrooms.
"We have to show signs that we're responsible and that we are not just asking for another buck," Cortines said last week.
We agree. And it's going to take more than a year - which is when that proposal for a new parcel tax might make it to the ballot - for the district to prove it is responsible. Until then, school officials should refrain from asking for additional money.
Meanwhile, residents must speak up. If they don't now, such requests will never end.
Did you catch Ray's comment, "We have to show signs that we're responsible..." Doesn't that look like an admittance that they have not beer responsible or trustworthy of the money taxpayers have already provided the District?
I don't normally agree with many editorials from this particular newspaper but this one I can easily appreciate.
When will L.A.U.S.D. voters finally wise up and stop pouring money into a District that has not shown any reason to trust their value of OUR money and use funds wisely to educate the students who attend their schools?
It is unfortunate to consider that every bond measure gets passed and only Proposition 13, back in 1978 established any brakes on wild spending, too long ago.
I know many folks will state that it was Proposition 13 that brought about suspected underfunding of education but had Districts used whatever funds they received more wisely, perhaps they would have learned how to live within their budgets.
But I also need to realize that is was not all the fault of Prop. 13 and how the District attempted to manage funding, it was also due to a dramatic increase in student enrollment that was not contended with by the District going to the Federal level.
L.A.U.S.D. helped get themselves deeper into this problem by not continuing to sue the Federal Government for its lack of support to the District and the growing problem of how to educate too many students coming into the District whose parents do not have legal documentation to be in the U.S.A. in the first place.
There had to be a time and it still may be now that we all have to look much harder at how to handle educating children who are not in this country legally, and how do we manage to try to keep families together when one sibling is a citizen and others may not be.
This is a funding issue that revolves around immigration but should be kept to funding issues only.
If the Federal Government chooses not to do any real mitigation concerning students who are not here legally, then it must fall on the Federal Government to pay L.A.U.S.D. for educating the students the Federal Government does not wish to deal with.
If the Federal Government wants to provide an amnesty program, then that is fine with me as long as they provide education funding to the students and their parents who are granted amnesty.
None of the students within L.A.U.S.D. should suffer because of what the Federal Government does or does not do.
Perhaps the Jarvis Taxpayers group should take another look at whether folks who pay into L.A.U.S.D. coffers have standing enough to sue the Federal Government to provide funding to L.A.U.S.D. rather than just us picking up the tab for what the Feds fail to do.
It seems to be a taxation without representation issue if we are paying for federally mandated things using our property tax money going towards local education.
But getting back to Ray and his follies, he hasn't been in office one month and he is already begging for more money to mismanage.
I thought there was language in the Prop. Q measure that allowed for maintenance and operations at L.A.U.S.D. schools. If it was a Build Baby Build measure only, L.A. voters who approved the measure just were not interested in dealing with the measure and they approved it just like all the rest.
Perhaps all the owners of apartment buildings in the areas within L.A.U.S.D., but who do not live within the L.A.U.S.D. area, should sell off those buildings to folks who do live in the L.A.U.S.D. area. I bet we would get a groundswell of opposition from large property owners who will balk at a new parcel tax, especially if they live in the District's area.
Sometime in the next couple of years, this all must end. We cannot afford L.A.U.S.D. as it currently is and will be if something drastic is not done.
Maybe a federal takeover of the District may have to be done. It could be the only way that we all can make the feds understand what has been happening.
They are most responsible for getting the ball rolling towards what is happening these days.
Just watch the number of hours and money is spent drawing up a ballot measure for a new parcel tax. L.A.U.S.D. will spend thousands and thousands of dollars creating a measure and then cry when they say they need more money.
As it appears many within the greater Los Angeles area are fed up with over development and have joined forces to sue the city and put a big dent in development, now we may all want to join a District-wide movement to reign in L.A.U.S.D. and make some real changes to benefit the students, faculty, and staff of the schools.