Who: Davis Board of Education
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: East Conference Room, School District Office, 526 B St.
The Davis school board will conduct a special meeting Thursday to consider the details of a possible parcel tax measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Based on comments at last Thursday’s board meeting, it appears unlikely that trustees will ask voters for as much as $642 annually. That amount would restore $3.5 million in program cuts — including several dozen teacher layoffs — made this spring and cover cuts that might be necessary if Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax hike fails this fall.
However, it does appear that all five trustees could be leaning toward asking voters to renew Measure A, an “emergency” $200-per-year parcel that voters approved in 2011. Measure A expires June 30, 2013.
At the time the measure was drafted in late 2010, trustees assumed the state budget crisis — which has been steadily eroding financial support for public education since 2007 — would be fading into the rear-view mirror by the 2012-13 school year.
Instead, “things have actually gotten enormously worse,” trustee Gina Daleiden said Thursday, as the state has made even bigger reductions in funding for education. So the board is now contemplating asking voters to renew the $200 levied under Measure A.
Trustees also appear to be leaning toward asking voters to authorize a local parcel tax that would counterbalance $3.5 million in new “trigger cuts” by the state if Brown’s tax fails.
However, if the measure does win statewide majority support, the board would rescind this portion of the local tax. Trustee Richard Harris described this as “a trigger on a trigger,” providing stability in the Davis school district’s budget planning.
Davis already has seen state funding decline by approximately $12 million a year since 2007. The school district thinned the ranks of teachers by about 50 positions two years ago with a retirement incentive. This spring, several dozen more jobs were eliminated, leading to an increase in class sizes across the district when school begins in August. The 2012 cuts totaled $3.5 million.
Davis area voters have responded to the state funding reductions by approving four parcel tax measures during the past five years in an effort to locally replace some of the money the state has slashed.
But the state budget crisis has now gone on for so long that by the time any local November tax actually goes into effect next July, three of those four school taxes will have expired. (These are 2007’s Measure Q, 2008’s Measure W and 2011’s Measure A).
The one currently authorized school tax that will remain in effect from July 2013 onward will be Measure C, which local voters approved by a 72 percent majority in March. Measure C charges $320 annually through June 2018, providing $6.5 million per year for Davis schools.
Superintendent Winfred Roberson said Tuesday that “there are two ways to solve our budget shortfall — they include reducing expenditures and/or raising revenues. The Davis school district has been reducing expenditures for the past four years and will continue seeking ways to become more efficient.
“I contend that we cannot reduce our way to excellence,” he continued. “Our students’ education is more valuable to us than the state is willing to fund. Raising local revenue is one way the school board demonstrates that they value our students; moreover, it creates local control.”
Originally set for Community Chambers at City Hall, the meeting will begin instead at 7 p.m. in East Conference Room of the School District office, 526 B St. The meeting will not be broadcast live, but will be recorded for later airing.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.