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 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.
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."