Dear Editor – Measure K is Not for Kids

Dear Editor,

On the few lawn signs I’ve seen around the community supporting the passage of the school board’s Measure K, there is displayed a sentimental slogan: “It’s for Our Kids.” Its use is meant to invoke a heart-felt sentimentality that the community should pass the measure, because, don’t we love our kids and grand kids and want them to be successful in school and later in life? Aren’t they worth investing 50-cents a day for them to be successful?

But, do not be fooled by this heart-tugging sentiment. Because NOTHING could be fiscally further from the truth.

Most of funds raised, if not all, will be used on behalf of the adult staff in the district as stated in last year’s first and second Interim reports. The parcel tax will be spent to support their past compensation increases of almost 50% and to continue to pay for the district’s increasing STRS/PERS contributions.

District staff’s cost of employment is now taking almost ninety-percent (89.8%) of the district’s revenues and its annual pension-payment increases still have a few years to go. This should not come as a surprise to anyone-especially board members–as the governor clearly laid out these planned increases years ago.

In the 2016-17 school year the board’s spending deficit was over $4,800,000–almost 7% (6.95%) of its revenue.

In the final report, just out, closing out last year’s school budget, it showed that the board had spent over $7,000,000 more than it received in revenues—this is the largest deficit ever recorded in our district’s history–almost 10% (9.8%) of district revenues.

Astonishingly, board members have deficit spent more in the past two fiscal years–almost $12,000,000 ($11.96M)–than in the previous five years combined ($9.06M). So the budgetary balance is not getting any better, it is getting worse. And the deficit seems to be spiraling out of their control.

All this over-spending might be understandable if the State had been cutting our local funding. But over the last six years, the State has increased our district’s funding by over fifty-percent—well over $20,000,000.

So parents, voters do not be fooled by Measure K supporters’ sentimentality, it is not about “our kids.”

Measure K is all about the adult employees in the district. Our kids will not see much, if any, of the money generated by Measure K.

This measure is nothing but a seven-year, $16,500,000 board bailout. A bailout to cover up board members’ years of lack of fore-sight and poor decision-making in their continued mismanagement of the district’s reserve and general funds.

Vote NO on Measure K

George Laase

www.culvercitysymphony.org

6 Comments

  1. “Most of funds raised, if not all, will be used on behalf of the adult staff in the district as stated in last year’s first and second Interim reports… District staff’s cost of employment is now taking almost ninety-percent (89.8%) of the district’s revenues… Our kids will not see much, if any, of the money generated by Measure K.”

    Well… yeah. Correct. The people who teach and serve and nurture and protect our kids in CCUSD schools are indeed adult staff, and they get paid money to do what they do. We don’t generally give public funds directly to students. That’s not how public school works (or private school, or any school).

    “Astonishingly, board members have deficit spent more in the past two fiscal years–almost $12,000,000 ($11.96M)–than in the previous five years combined ($9.06M). So the budgetary balance is not getting any better, it is getting worse. And the deficit seems to be spiraling out of their control.”

    Yes, and this is EXACTLY why we need Measure K to pass! The district’s former (2009 Measure EE) parcel tax expired two years ago, and the result has been this massive hole blown into CCUSD’s finances… the very large and unsustainable hole that you describe above! Our choices, as a community: 1) patch that hole by passing Measure K, or 2) lay off teachers and lunch ladies and music instructors and support staff, resulting in dramatically larger class sizes, curtailed student programs, and a much worse education for… our kids.

    As a Culver City voter, taxpayer, homeowner and parent of two CCUSD students, I know which choice I prefer.

    I’m an eager, avid, proud YES voter for Measure K.

  2. Patrick– The problem you don’t address is, if Measure K passes who will make the decisions on how to spend the funds? Pretty much the same members who spent our district into the largest deficit in our district’s history.
    I don’t really trust them to spend it wisely. Their past record of poor fiscal decisions certainly doesn’t give much hope that somehow if only this measure passes, they will magically start making better fiscal decisions “for our kids.”

  3. George, the language of Measure K mandates the establishment of an independent oversight committee, comprised of a wide cross section of community members… just like the CBOC that was established when Measure CC passed, not to mention the Citizen’s Oversight Committee that served when Measure EE passed. As was the case with the latter group, any newly-formed independent committee will be charged with ensuring that all Measure K monies are focused like a laser on the vital CCUSD classes and programs– and the teachers/staff who operate said classes and programs– which together provide such benefit our kids.

    This is one of many reasons that I’m very very happy to vote yes on Measure K.

  4. The parcel tax’s language is purposely written in such general terms so board members have the maximum leeway in how to spend the money. So, the board could spend Measure K’s funding almost any which way they want and it still would have be approved by a board-appointed oversight committee.
    Patrick, you make it sound like the newly-formed committee would actually have a say in how the money is spent. This, of course, is not true.
    I’m glad you brought up Measure EE, as an example. Our previous 5-year parcel tax, passed in 2009, used the same fuzzy language and the board, at the time, decided to spend 90% of the funds for teacher salaries–82% of which went to Advanced Placement teachers.
    Of course, this had to be approved by the overseers, since “to maintain … quality teachers” was mentioned on the ballot. The rest of the money, what was left over, was spread across the other items effecting the general student body.
    So much for “laser-like” precision.
    The ultimate decision on how much and where the money goes is made by board members.

  5. George, I think we ultimately just disagree about whether or not it’s okay to spend money paying the men and women who teach our children. Speaking for myself, I genuinely can’t think of anything more important to spend school funds on. Teachers aren’t gonna show up every day for free. Not good ones, anyway.

    If Culver City fails to pass Measure K, then yes, the result will be less money spent on teacher salaries. And why is that? Because we’ll have to lay off many of them. That means larger class sizes, reduced/eliminated programs, and a much poorer educational experience for: the kids. But we WOULD be spending less on teacher salaries, so if that’s all that matters to you, then maybe you like the sound of that?

    I, myself, sure don’t. That’s why I’m voting YES on Measure K.

  6. Patrick– We will probably never see eye-to-eye on how to solve the district’s deficit. You look at Measure K as a purely emotional issue and I am looking at it from a fiscal standpoint.
    For years, Board members have mismanaged the district’s finances, breaking long-held, standard rules of finance: spending one-time reserves for on-going expenses, raising salaries which, by the way, also compounded (increasing) the district’s STRS and PERS payments … etc. Now that their years of mismanagement has caught up with them and the one-time spending piper still has to be paid, they want us to give them a new transfusion.
    It seems some board members cared more about district staff than about the community’s Trust it gave by electing them to oversee that our district remained solvent. It’s pretty plain, they lost sight of the district’s overall picture.
    What it really comes down to is which is MORE important: Having highly paid teachers or putting our district back on a firm financial footing. Fundamentally, the fiscal health of the district comes first and foremost, and though, they are an important part of our children’s education, at this time, district staff salaries become secondary, until the restoration of our district’s financial health is complete.

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