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SD Unified Board Facing Difficult Budget Decisions

Audio

Aired 11/8/10

What options does the San Diego Unified School District have to cut its projected $142 million budget deficit for next year? We talk to Superintendent Bill Kowba and school board president Richard Barrera about how the defeat of Proposition J will affect the district. And, we find out what options the board will consider as it begins the difficult task of cutting its deficit.

San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Bill Kowba

Above: San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Bill Kowba

San Diego Unified School District Board President Richard Barrera

Above: San Diego Unified School District Board President Richard Barrera

What options does the San Diego Unified School District have to cut its projected $142 million budget deficit for next year? We talk to Superintendent Bill Kowba and school board president Richard Barrera about how the defeat of Proposition J will affect the district. And, we find out what options the board will consider as it begins the difficult task of cutting its deficit.

Guests

Bill Kowba, superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District.

Richard Barrera, president of the San Diego Unified School District's board of education.

Read Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are happy however to have here with us today two of the officials of the San Diego unified school district because they are going back to the budget drawing board right now. The idea of raising millions to off set state education cuts was rejected by voters last week. Proposition J, the proposed parcel tax fell far short of the two thirds approval it needed to pass. So now, San Diego's largest school district is left with the task of cutting more than $100 million from next year's budget. Here to tell us how they're thinking of making those cuts are my guests, Bill Kowba, he's superintendent of the San Diego unified school district. And Bill, welcome.

BILL KOWBA: Thank you, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Richard Barrera is president of the San Diego Unified schools district's board of education. Richard, good morning.

RICHARD BARRERA: Good morning, Maureen, thanks for having us back.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We'd like the listeners to join the conversation. Did you vote against prop J, do you think the school district still has fat to cut out of the budget, or are you concerned how cuts might affect your kids' quality of education? As I said, we are having some difficulty with our phone, if you would lick to call in and give it a shot, it's 1-888-895-5727. We think we can get those calls on the air. Or if you would like to comment on line, you can go to KPBS.org/These Days. So bill, what kind of deficit is the district facing for the next school year? I've heard estimates from 120 million to a 140 million. What is the latest?

BILL KOWBA: About a hundred and $20 million, we had about a hundred and $40 million shortfall until the federal government passed its jobs bill, and that moved about $20 million to the psychiatric. There are great uncertainties though because even though I say a hundred and $20 million today, governor brown will make his own decisions about the budget. He may maybe adjustments to the recently adopted budget, he may there are things to be done midyear, that won't play out until 2012. And we won't know until he's put his staff together and come up with some propositions for education.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I heard there's supposedly $30 million coming your way from the state. But you're in the too sure about that at this point?

BILL KOWBA: Well, that's the great conundrum of the recently adopted budget. That budget did in fact negate the cuts in terms of average daily attend apse revenues. It did provide for $30 million to the districts, as it did to many other districts across the county and state. The key here is it's all in the budget, but it has been moved to a deferral status such that while we keep it on the books we can't spend it right now. That's carried into next year. Many would say, right, the state has improved education funding but it hasn't made it available to us.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. Richard Barrera, take us a little bit back in time. I know you don't want to beat this to death, but tell us what proposition J -- how it would have helped the district.

RICHARD BARRERA: Yeah, well, and one thing to keep in mind, Maureen, we're pretty confident that when all the votes are finally counted, we'll see that a majority of voters in San Diego, actually voted yet on prop J, voted to approve prop J, and the reason that I bring that up is because that two thirds requirement, that threshold to get past is pretty frustrating right now, when you consider the state's been in a bond for a number of years, making cuts to education, arguing that it has no revenue options but yet you have a majority of voters in a local community like San Diego saying we'd be willing to step up and do something to save our schools, and yet the rules of the state, this two thirds flesh hold make that impossible to do. It's something that I think we need to be looking at around the state. But yeah, we were hoping that we would be in a position that if prop J had passed, that would have brought in about $50 million of revenue, annually to our district over the next five years and would have put us in a much stronger position to deal with these cuts without having to be so dependent on Sacramento. The reality is, we didn't get there with the two thirds flesh hold. And we are now in a situation where we have to rely on governor Brown and the legislature to get through the 10/11 year without making further cuts to Education to approve a budget going into 11/12 that starts to restores some of the money that the state owes education, and all of the -- you know, we had parents and teachers and students, people, working so hard for prop J. What we have to do is channel that energy now into advocacy to our local legislators and the new governor to say you do have options in front of you, you can pass a budget particularly ow, you can pass a budget with a majority vote rather than a two- thirds requirement, we think you have the opportunity to protect the schools, and we're gonna be asking you to do that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Richard Barrera, this was some speculation that if the vote actually came close to the two thirds required, that San Diego's school board, the district would go to the state and say, look we almost made it but we couldn't because of this two thirds requirement of the legislature should now think about doing something to abolish this two thirds requirement. Do you have the ground to stand on to make that argument now?

RICHARD BARRERA: Yeah, I believe if we have a majority of voters that in the end have approved prop J, and we saw for instance in the spring, LA had a majority of voters approve, a few years ago, school bond measures also had to get over a two thirds threshold to pass, and you saw community after community gets majority voters but not two thirds. The measure was lowers and now school bonds are passing. And it just makes sense. If you're in a crunch at the state level to bring in revenue, but local communities are willing to reach into their pockets a little bit and provide revenue, you want to encourage that, not discourage that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want ask you both, bill Kowba and Richard Barrera, to tell us how much were you counting on this proposition J passing? Did you always have a plan B in your pocket.

BILL KOWBA: Well, I think we were hopeful, we were concerned but we knew that the uphill battle was huge for two thirds. I'll share with you, Maureen, we saw results across the state, I saw an e-mail this weekend that showed where construction bonds passed regularly because of the two thirds threshold, 16 out of 18 of parcel taxes failed. The two that passed were up in the bay area, Berkeley and free month. My heart goes out to Jefferson union high school district in San Mateo county, they came up with a 69.9 percent approval rating. But the rest of us were down in that 50 percent range that Richard's talking about. We recognized all along that 40 or $50 million parcel tax would only assist us in partially resolving the issues at the point in time where it was a hundred and 40 million, we were still at a shortfall of $90 million and even at a hundred and 20 million doctors, the current calculated deficit, we were realizing that there would only be 1-third of a fix there, and there would still have to be more cuts. So all along we have been sharing with the board, the district staff, a set of options that has been in excess of 120 currently.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And so, you sort of had this two tracks going in your head during this campaign for prop J. If it is it pass and then if it doesn't pass.

RICHARD BARRERA: Yeah, and in fact, it's -- you know, because of the craziness of the state, it's multiple tracks. So yeah, we had to plan for prop J not getting there. But now the situation that we're in is the superintendent talked about, if the state simple he holds to the budget it just passed for the 10/11-year, and does not make midyear cuts and recognizes that the $30 million for our school district that it already has committed itself to, that makes a big dent in our problem. And in reality, if we then carried that $30 million over into next year, now we've cut that hundred 20 million dollar problem in half. So it's very important that has governor Brown and the legislature start to grapple with what they're gonna do in the 10/11-year, and then what budget they're gonna put together for the 11/12-year, public schools have taken their hit. Wee taken our hit. The state owes public education K-12 about $14-billion. It's time to restore some of that, and give that the legislature passed the majority rather than two thirds, we think it does have the opportunity to pass a budget that protects public education really for the first time in a couple years.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: My guests are Richard Barrera, he's president of the San Diego unified's school district's board of education, and superintendent of San Diego schools, Kill Kowba. I've been informed that we are able to take your calls at this time. 1-888-895-5727 is our number. And let's take a call. This is Ross calling from San Diego. Good morning, Ross, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning. There seems to be a real disconnect about the schools. The wall street journal about three months ago said that in 1999 that San Diego unified had 180,000 students. Currently the UT says that we had 132. So we have less over 50000 students yet we still have the same number of teachers, we have the same number of facilities, and in that same article, the UT said that the cuts, the so called cuts to education were on their wish list, not the real -- not the real budget. So even though they project more money, they want more money, they have less students, they have the same number of facilities, and the same number of teachers. Which means that it's not being run efficiently.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, let's ask the question, Ross. Let's ask that question.

NEW SPEAKER: New.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me put it to you, Bill Kowba, so if there are fewer students why aren't there fewer teachers? Center a disconnect as Ross is saying?

BILL KOWBA: There are fewer staff than there was in 1999. As recently as 30 June a year ago, we had hay golden handshake and lost a thousand people. That was 600 teachers and 400 classified personnel. And over the last decade, you've seen go from a high of over 16000 to below 14000, and that has been an adjustment based on staffing need, and budget realities. We've spent a good part of the last decade renovating and building new facilities just so the maintenance cost could be trimmed down, and that was as a result of proposition NM. Facilities we had were over 40 years old and were just bleeding us if terms of annual maintenance costs, and the construction bonds voted by the community here in 1998, and again in 2000, and have allowed us to maintain and upgrade those facilities particularly in terms of technology. Today, we are building no new facilities in the terms of brand-new schools, but we are fixing and updating in order for our kids to have a quality education.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The larger question, I think, Ross was asking, is there any argument that can be made that there is excess and bloat still in the San Diego unified's budget?

RICHARD BARRERA: I wish there was, Maureen, as a board member when we're faced with having to make decisions that affect kids there's nothing we would want more than to be able to identify inefficiencies and areas of mismanagement, places that we could make cuts that really couldn't affect kids. Of course that's what we would want. We've worked hard over the past two years, I know in the time that I've been on the board, and I know that the board previously worked hard at identifying every possibility to identify where we could make cuts that, you know, that kids wouldn't feel the impact. And we've made hundreds of millions of dollars of those cuts over the last couple of years. But I'm faced in a situation now where, you know, I look at a reality where those types of easy decisions just aren't available to us in a way that I think they may have been over the last couple of years. No question that San Diego unified like most public agencies allowed itself as a bureaucracy to bloat over the course of a decade. I don't question that at all, but when we started to face a crisis and had to make decisions to make cuts that hopefully wouldn't affect kids, of course we pushed for every possibility there. And we will continue to do that. But I just think those easy answers are not available to us in the way that they were in the past couple of years.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to take a break, and if you have a differing opinion or a question or I comment, please give us a call. 1-888-895-5727, You're listening to These Days on KPBS.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, You're listening to These Days on KPBS. My guests are San Diego school superintendent Bill Kowba, and Richard Barrera, president of the San Diego Unified school district's board of education. And we're talking about life postproposition J, the proposed parcel accident that, of course, did not pass last week. And now the San Diego's largest school district is going to have to make cuts to the school's billion. And let me start by asking you, bill, how are you going about the process of identifying where cuts will be made? Because as you were saying even though it's a moving target, you're looking somewhere about having to cut a hundred million dollars from the budget.

BILL KOWBA: I think what we have to do is drill down into the area under stress. The cuts to San Diego unify's school budget are the general fund unrestricted area. All of our restricted funds, different colors of money are not impacted at this point in time based on the governor's last bottoming. So if you take a look at the unrestricted general fund issue that's about $688 million. If you step through the elimination, you have take out about $42 million for fixed costs. Those are the insurance funds, the utility bills and so on. Then there are required reserves that have to be eliminated as well. We have to have a fund for economic uncertainty and for prepaid cost it is. So after you eliminate the must pays, you're now down to about $614 million. How does that break up? About five hundred and 62 million of that, or 92 percent of that funding, is in it school budgets or school programs. Only $52 million or 8 percent is in the administrative office. And the administrative functions such as human resources, information technology, and finance. That is why we have been cautioning ourselves and the community that a hundred and $20 million problem will have to be linked up to unfortunately, regrettably, to the campuses, because they now represent 92 percent of the funds under stress.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So how, Richard Barrera, are you going to identify where those cuts should be made? Is the School Board going to do it?

RICHARD BARRERA: Well, I think it's gonna be some combination of cuts that the School Board will make across the board. But then to the extent that we can give flexibility to the local schools to, for instance, say look, here's the amount of money we need to cut out of your budget, but you'll have a better sense than we will at the central office about the best way to handle that school by school. I think you're gonna see a consensus on the board to try to give as much flexibility as possible to the schools. Now, that's not -- you know, that's not -- that's a heck of a gift to give to the schools to say we gotta cut money, but you gotta figure out how to do that. That's been frankly the position we've been in relative to the state. But we do think that the local schools, the principals, the teachers issue the parents, are in a better position to identify the absolute must haves at that school and where they might be able to make some cuts that would have less impact on the kids. So we're gonna be trying to turn over as much flexibility to the schools, but here's something Maureen to keep in mind. If you think about charter schools, charter schools have all of the flexibility over their billion. They get their average daily -- their base revenue from the state per student. Then they make -- they build a budget from that. So there's no central office that makes money out of that funding before the schools deal with it. Charter schools grapple with it from scratch, but every charter school that we talk to is going through the same thing that we are. Do we cut school days, do we cut necessary programs, do we dip into reserves? So the flexibility doesn't mean the cuts are any les painful, I just think they're be made in a clearer way that's better off for those particular students at those particular schools.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If you do agree on this, kind of letting the local schools figure out what their own cuts are going to be, are they gonna have the authority to may off teachers?

RICHARD BARRERA: There are requirements in terms of class size allocation. So kindergarten through three, we've gotta maintain. Right now, we've got an average of 24 to 1 in k to three, which is too high. Then you go up the grades and there's particular class sizes that need to be maintained across the board. But within those, yeah, the schools will have an ability to say our absolute need is to keep class asks at K to three as low as it can be. So many we might sacrifice a fourth grade teacher or a health technician or a library technician, that's the kind of decision making we want to give to the local schools.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Those sound like very painful cuts.

PLAINTIFF: Very painful cuts.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Bill, I'm wondering, there was some speculation that the entire school police was gonna have to be basically eradicated, a lot of librarians were gonna be gone, and there are going to be teacher lay offs, I think one of the estimates was three helped. Are you still looking at those kinds of cuts.

BILL KOWBA: Yes, and a hundred and $37 million options to eliminate a $120-million dollar deficit. We have kept an extensive list that touch personnel. And the reality is that 91 percent of our budget is in our personnel accounts. So you will find on that list, counselors, well, health techs, and teachers in various programs. We actually have a two track conversation. And unfortunately we have from now to December to identify certain strategies for meeting a hundred and $20 deficit because we're required to issue a first interim financial report to the county office of education, and along with that, a strategies are for how you would accomplish it. Then in January, this is the second track of the conversation, governor Brown will likely issue a proposed building for next year, and there's no reason to believe it'll be a perfect crossover from one proposal to another. From $120 million conversation to another hundred and $20 million conversation. So in a sense, while we clearly focus over the next 60 days to sort out what we can do, we have to start that conversation again in January. Because there's a sense that the numbers will be adjusted in one way or another. And what the staff or the board agrees to get to in December, could have to go through some amount of revision on January.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see. And I want to ask you both, what are you hearing from teachers about all this? Because apparently if you're going to be asking for layoffs, you have to start notifying teachers in December. Is that the idea?

RICHARD BARRERA: Well, the actual deadline for a teacher to receive what people call a pink slip, a notification of a potential lay off is March 15th.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay.

RICHARD BARRERA: And the process that we have to go through, Maureen, we have to be very patient and systematic in the way that we go about this. And that is the way that we have gone about dealing with these budgets the last couple of years, like the superintendent is saying, there are so many unknowns right now. We don't know in the end what even this year's budget is gonna look like from the state. We certainly don't know what next year's budget is gonna look like. Huge variables there. And so -- but, you know, the impact to certainly a teacher and a school, and parents of receiving a lay off, a pink slip, is real. Regardless of whether that pink slip is eventually rescinded, you know, to have to deem with that anxiety of assuming that you might be out of a job, and if you're a principal, to have to deal with the anxiety of knowing your team is potentially gonna be broken up, we want to push those decisions as far back as we can to the point that we have as much information as we need before we have to start moving on those things.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking -- excuse me, my guests are Richard Barrera, president of the San Diego unified school district board of education, and bill Kowba, who is superintendent of the San Diego unified school district. We'll be taking your phone calls at 1-888-895-5727. I heard that there's an idea being noted perhaps to try to cut budgets to limit kindergarten classes to a half day? ; is that correct, Richard?

RICHARD BARRERA: Yeah, well, one of the items on this list, so, like the superintendent's saying, we don't have a lot of options right now of we've got a list of a hundred and $37 million worth of cuts and we've got to narrow that down to a hundred and $20 million, and 1 of the options on that is to cut kindergarten from full day to half day and to take kindergarten class size from an average of 24 kids to one teacher, which is already way too high, up to nearly 30 kids. That saves about 16 and a half million dollars to do those things combined. The sooner that we're in a position to take that kind of cut off the list, the better. But that's the problem. You go through this list of a hundred 37 million dollar cuts and you cannot find anything on there that you would say, oh, well, that's not gonna be a big deal. Every one of these line items is a big deal. And with the little kids, the kids who are coming in at five years old into our school district, and we've talked about this, those first couple of years are so crucial. Because a lot of our kids are coming in well behind, literally at five years old, but they can catch up so quickly if the teacher's able to give the individual attention that they need so that by third grade, they're reading a grade level and they're going forward and they're gonna be fine. But if they fall behind further in those first few years, they reach a point by third grade that a lot of kids just start to give up and assume that they're never gonna catch up, and it takes so much more time and becomes so much more expensive to try to catch those kids up when they're in the eighth grade and into high school. So protecting those class sizes with the lowest grades is certainly a priority of mine. But everything on here is a priority. And that's the difficult place that we're in.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Let's hear from Alex, he's been waiting on the line for quite some time. Alex, thank you for calling from Rancho Bernardo. And what's your question or comment?

NEW SPEAKER: My comment is instead of being so pro taxes, the board of education administration should ask for more reallocation of current funds. When they see a lot of the funds are going to pro business, they should be vocal against it. And say, hey, how come all my dollars are going to such big business, profit business, while the education instead getting its share? They need to tie off basically a second grade math teacher, talked about the whole pie issue. And I'm serious, I don't think those two people understand it. If one sector of the economy is getting a bigger share, is they should be more vocal about it. Versus asking for more taxes. They really don't need to go against the public opinion, because asking for more taxes issue the only thing they will do is go against public opinion. Especially when they repealed the two thirds majority, those people on the border, these guys we want to cheat.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Alex, thank you for the call. Thank you very much. We got your point, and I think that the essence of Alex's question is are you really working to try to change the way Sacramento is allocating the money that it has so that education gets more money?

RICHARD BARRERA: Well, I think Alex makes an excellent point. And look, it's not an easy conversation either because if you have a member of the legislature, the governor up here, they're gonna talk about that they've got very limited choices as well. And I understand that. But we've talked before about, you know, the fact that in California today, we're spending roughly ten times on average more money per year to keep a young person in prison than to educate that young person in school. There are priorities that the state can make that are different from what we've seen. I think the fact that the state now can pass a budget with a majority vote rather than a two thirds vote puts more expectation on the state to identify its own priorities and public education needs to be at the very top of that list, and so Alex is absolutely right about that, there are decisions that the state has in front of it about how it spends the money that it does have. And those decisions have made public education a low priority over the last couple of years. We're expecting that public education is gonna become the number one priority with the new governor and the current legislature.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Bill Kowba, how much of a voice does San Diego unified have in Sacramento? How do you go about having these conversations with legislators, about -- you know, look at the budget we're facing here, look at what you're doing to us, you need to re allocate your funds so that we get more money. Who do you speak with and how often do you speak with them.

BILL KOWBA: I think we have a very responsive San Diego County legislative representation. In the last many months, we've talked to assemblyman Block about his assistance with overcoming a special education disabilities act, with removal of 18 million dollars from the San Diego unified budget impacting 20 other school districts as well. He was able to put together legislation the Governor signed that returned that funding. We've talked about senator Kehoe, we've talked with any number of our representatives who are sensitive to San Diego unified and to the other 42 school districts in our county. We've also collaborated. We have a legislative advocate on our staff up in Sacramento. A gal who has done some tremendous work for us. And we have collaborated with other groups in the education forum, LA unified, and other I think friendly sources supportive of education in the legislature. And we've made trips to Sacramento as well as visited our representatives locally, and they understand our predicament and are working with us in order for that advocacy to be heard at the highest levels in Sacramento.

RICHARD BARRERA: And the key to that, Maureen, and this is my challenge to Alex, you gotta get involved with us in doing that, it's not just about the superintendent making calls or the School Board making calls, it's about all of us together, parents and teachers ask students and community leaders, and community members, you know talking to our local legislators but also making those trips up to Sacramento and having that clear voice in support of public schools to the folks in Sacramento that are gonna be making decisions.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's take some calls. Richard is calling us from San Diego.

NEW SPEAKER: Can you please elaborate why the San Diego school district is not applied for -- reach to the top funds, before they actually went and asked the taxpayers to give more money to the district, I think as a taxpayer myself, I took that into consideration when placing my vote, that I felt like the school district was ham strung by the unions and that they didn't support the race to the top funds I'll take their answer off the air. Thanks.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Rich afterward, thank you for the call. Who would like to respond to that? Bill?

BILL KOWBA: Not only did we apply for a race to the top, over half the districts in this county and over half the districts in the state, a thousand school districts did not apply. We regularly receive grant opportunities whether they be at the federal, state, or local level or throughout philanthropy. And we do not accept or pursue every one of those. And I say it where all straight consciousness to us, because sometimes those opportunities to not comply with the vision for where you want to take the kids and the teaching and learning that you so desire. And 11 states out of the 50, we're the only recipients of the race to the top. The question for the community I think as a whole is should we be racing for money? Are we not entitled to funding, and I'm saying appropriately allocated funding for public education? And the requirements for race to the top would have had us overhaul significant processes in San Diego unified. And I think that's the same mind set of other school distributes that did not apply as well.

RICHARD BARRERA: And just from a money perspective, race to the top was not money that we could have put into our general fund to help us solve budget problems of race to the top, what we've seen in other school districts that have actually qualified for race to the top funds is that it's costing them money. They'll get a lot bit of money from the federal government to do the kinds of over haul that bill is talking about, which ends up costing the district more money than they're getting from the federal government. Race to the top is a philosophical approach to dealing with schools, and whether you agree with that or don't agree with it, and most of the elements in race to the top, I certainly don't agree with, but to argue that it's a solution to the money problems that school districts in California and around the country were facing is just not -- it's not honest. And I think people -- and I don't blame the caller, but I think people in positions that have been trying to push reforms like race to the top have frankly been using the fact that districts are desperate for money as a way to get them to agree to things that I don't think we should be doing. But it does not, it would not have in any way helped with our budget problem.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you this, and this is my final question to you both, do you think prop J was worth it? Was it worth it? I know that it cost some money in getting it on the ballot, and doing some outreach and electioneers, and doing that initial poling to see whether people would even consider something like this for San Diego unified? What's your sort of postmortem on prop J? Bill?

BILL KOWBA: I think it was truly worth it. We had to do all that we could to defend, support, and enhance public education for the San Diego community. And that meant looking at every possible option, and judge was one of those options. I would hope that the great support we did receive from throughout the community, 50 percent majority, I should say split that we had, would be a signal both to the state and to the community that there are many of us out there that understand and require ourselves to take control of our local destiny. And if others out there would see that, perhaps we'll have that difference some day in the legislature with regards to a 50 percent majority or 55 percent majority infer a parcel tax.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Richard?

RICHARD BARRERA: I certainly went through a period in the summer of questioning whether it was worth it knowing how difficult it would be to get to a two thirds vote. But I absolutely agree with Bill that we're in a better position today to deal with the challenge in front of us having gone through the campaign for prop J than we would have been without it. The campaign allowed us to start to highlight to the approximately the reality of the situation we're in. You don't hear any difference, scenario, that we're talking about today than we were talking about a week or two weeks ago of it's always been the situation that we're in. But also the fact that we had a coalition of parents and teachers and community leaders and students and business leaders come together and work so hard for prop J, I think puts us in a stronger position to channel the energy of that coalition into advocacy, and to governor brown and to the state legislature.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you both so much for speaking with us today. Richard Barrera, thank you, Bill Kowba, thank you. Stay with us for a postelection North County update coming up in just a moment here on KPBS.

Comments

Avatar for user 'edwardtlp'

edwardtlp | November 8, 2010 at 8:45 a.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

With the passage of Prop. MM 10 years ago and Prop. S just a few years ago, Prop. J was just too much...especially considering the fact that school enrollment is declining. Each time those measures were proposed they were supposed to be the "last" time the district would need money...each of those were supposed to be sufficient to get and keep the school district in good shape. True, the funds were to be solely for construction, but money is fungible so new money collected for one purpose means more existing funds that can be spent elsewhere. Also, why, why WHY is the school district giving money for the new downtown library??? That's going to be a white elephant! If the school district has money for THAT, it certainly doesn't need more taxpayer money. When -ALL- the available monies are added up SDUSD gets about $14,000 per year per student already...that's more than most (if not all!) private schools...That's enough.

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Avatar for user 'TimD'

TimD | November 8, 2010 at 12:10 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

A friend of mine, who is is a teacher, said that after lottery money was ear-marked for education.... the state cut back on tax money to the schools...and used it else where!!
And 'edwardtip' is absolutely right... why didn't we just remodel
the library that we have?

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Avatar for user 'mlaiuppa'

mlaiuppa | November 12, 2010 at 10:21 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

The new library will have a charter school in it. That's why the district gave money.

As for MM and S, you can't just move money around. Some money is designated for certain spending and you can't change it. Especially if it's Federal money, if it's only for a certain type of spending, you can't change it. For instance if you get more money for construction, you can change other construction money to salaries. It may also have to be spent on construction.

You can't count ALL of the available money and then divide by number of students. You can't spend textbook money on construction or construction money on salaries, etc.

I voted against J for the same reason the lottery failed. I saw somewhere down the road that the money raised by J would have been taken away somewhere else and we'd still be in the same starvation mode we're in now. With the added burden of a parcel tax.

Until people put schools, children and our future first as a number one priority, there will be no "fix". What needs to happen is that the education budget needs to be removed from the general budget and be separate, like it was BEFORE Reagan was Governor.

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