Mountain View Voice

News - November 30, 2012

School districts welcome Prop. 30

Passage of governor's tax will stop the bleeding, superintendents say

by Nick Veronin

Superintendents from both Mountain View school districts are welcoming the passage of Proposition 30, even as they acknowledge that the new legislation won't change all that much when it comes to daily operations.

Proposition 30, which will help the state fund schools by combining a progressive income tax with overall increases to sales tax, among other provisions, doesn't mean more money will suddenly come flooding into the coffers of the Mountain View Whisman and Mountain View-Los Altos school districts. However, it will stop each of the districts from losing a significant amount of money on an annual basis, according to the superintendents.

"Prop. 30 does not give us any additional money," said Craig Goldman, Mountain View Whisman superintendent. "It keeps funding flat."

Under the new tax, which is scheduled to last six years, Goldman's district will hold onto $2.3 million annually, or about $457 per student per year.

It's nice that the distrct will be able to keep that money, Goldman said. But at the same time, he noted parents should not expect to see any new programs or class size reductions as a result. That's because California is still working to get its finances in order and the district needs to budget to plan for that.

Goldman said the district will continue along with its current budget, which had anticipated that Proposition 30 was not going to pass. By doing so, Goldman said the district will be better prepared for future cuts and won't have to dip so deeply into its reserves if the state continues to underfund schools — which, he said, is a very real possibility.

Currently, the district is supposed to receive $6,700 per student per year from the state, but it only gets $5,200, Goldman said. Mountain View Whisman officials have worked hard to make their district work, despite being underfunded.

"At this point, we're pleased to be able to maintain what we have," Goldman said.

Officials at Mountain View-Los Altos said they are also pleased that Proposition 30 won voter approval.

"It is undoubtedly great news," said Joe White, superintendent of business services with the high school district. Unlike Mountain View Whisman, White's district did not anticipate Proposition 30 failing in its budget. Instead, White said, they set aside savings to deal with the potential loss of funding that would result if the proposition had been shot down. Still, even with that money set aside, White said, its failure would have been hard on the district, as it would have lost an additional $1.8 million annually, or $482 per student per year. That would have come on top of the $2.5 million in cuts the state already dropped on the district.

"Having to pay out another $1.8 million would have been a problem in the long term," White said, adding that the district would have only been able to sustain that for a few years without taking serious cost-cutting measures.

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