What many in our community have found out since progressive majorities were put onto the local city council and school board, is that even if candidates can pass voters’ litmus-tests on political and social issues, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee those candidates will make good financial stewards for our city or school district.
This election, though, voters have a chance to review the past record of one such school board member: Kelly Kent. Dr Kent has been on the board for the past five years, during which, she has overseen district-wide compensations rise 34%; and while our district reserves plummeted to some of the lowest levels in district history.
Like Money Growing on Trees
Even after receiving an additional $25.6M in state funding since the start of the LCFF program, the district still found ways to spend more than it receives for each of the past six years, many of those years ended with multi-million dollar deficits.
So when board members finally realized that the district’s piggy-bank couldn’t keep up with their spending sprees, Dr Kent lead a district committee in 2018 to ask the community to bail them out with a 7-year, $189 parcel tax totaling over $16 million dollars-the largest parcel tax ever passed by our small community.
Still in Deficit Mode
But, if you were to scrutinize last year’s, pre-pandemic district budget–even with our new annual tax contribution of $2.3M–you would find that the district was still going to run another multi-million dollar deficit.
Double the Deficits
In fact, our district now it finds itself in the grips of two different types of deficits. The latest one, a national and state-wide cyclical deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and secondly, the board’s continuing structural deficit caused by years of fiscal mismanagement.
I don’t agree with many of Dr Kent’s progressive views on education. But that is not why I think she should not be re-elected. It is her inability to oversee and balance a district budget and to keep our school district finances on firm ground. Fiscally, it seems she just doesn’t get it or has what it takes to be an effective governing board member.
Lacking Peer Support
I’m not the only one that does not want to see her re-elected. Three out of her four fellow board members are not listed on her campaign website as supporting her campaign. To me, that speaks volumes.
Bringing Our District Back
To show how badly our district has been mismanaged over these past five or six years; by my figures, it probably would take passing a new perpetual, annual tax of well over a $1,000 per parcel to bring our district back from both the cyclical and its long-term structural deficit due to the many years of board fiscal mismanagement.