Here’s the problem— the State of California passed a law requiring school districts to pay more for employee retirement programs. Complying with this law will cost our school district over $2 million a year.
The State is not providing additional money to cover these added costs, and the current level of State funding for our schools is roughly what it was back in 2008. I was an active volunteer with kids in middle school then. Believe me, the level of State education funding in 2008 was not even enough for the costs we faced then. To meet the additional costs, the Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD) will either have to raise an additional $2+ million every year or cut $2+ million in programs, teachers and support staff.
You might think that since we passed a bond measure three years ago, CCUSD must have enough cash to cover this new state mandate, but by law bond measure funds can only be used to fund facilities improvements. So while the bond measure has been wonderful for the athletic fields, new HVAC systems, the renovated Frost, revamped playgrounds, new science classrooms under construction, amazing middle and high school libraries, elementary school Makerspace classrooms, and energy saving upgrades throughout the district—money from the bond measure can’t do anything to maintain and improve core academic programs; to fund vocational education programs; to attract and retain high quality teachers and support staff; to provide art, music and theatre instruction or to support athletic programs.
To do that, and still comply with the new law, we need to pass a parcel tax: Measure K— it’s for our Kids.
Measure K is a flat tax of $189 per year per parcel, regardless of the parcel’s size. (California law says that all parcels must be taxed the same amount.) It would be paid by any person or business that normally pays property taxes (though senior citizens and people with disabilities can opt out). And it would generate approximately $2.3 million per year for seven years, covering CCUSD’s shortfall.
$189 per year. That’s about 50¢ a day. As a parent and a volunteer, I’ve met thousands of Culver City kids, and I never met a single one who wasn’t worth that investment.
Every penny generated by Measure K will be used solely for the benefit of CCUSD students. The State can’t appropriate the money; the funds can’t be spent on administrators’ salaries, benefits or pensions. There will be an oversight committee made up of a diverse group of community members to track the funds, and an independent auditor will prepare annual reports. With our earlier parcel tax (which expired in 2015) and our current bond (Measure CC), CCUSD has built a strong record of using funds responsibly.
My children have graduated from our Culver City schools. My days of running book fairs, serving as Culver City Council PTA president and being on the board of the Culver City Education Foundation are behind me. But these are still our kids, and these are still our Culver City Schools. We’ve worked hard to make our schools great. The passage of Measure K will help us keep them great.
Measure K will be one of the last items on the ballot this November and will need to get 2/3 of the vote to pass. Getting a 2/3 majority isn’t easy, even for a good cause. But if you and your neighbor join me in voting YES on Measure K, I know we can do it.
For more information and to show your support visit: protectculvercityschools.org.
Jody Kim Reichel