When California voters passed Proposition 30 on Nov. 6, they agreed to pay more taxes to help fund schools. The immediate impact in the Lake Elsinore Unified School District is a longer school year for the district’s 21,500 students in Lake Elsinore, Wildomar, Canyon Lake and surrounding areas, according to George Landon, Lake Elsinore Unified’s assistant superintendent, fiscal support services.
The state ballot measure championed by Gov. Jerry Brown and approved by voters will raise income taxes for wealthy Californians and temporarily hike California’s sales tax by a quarter of one cent to fund schools from kindergarten through 12th grades, community colleges, and state universities. The measure eventually is expected to raise more than $6 billion, by some accounts.
That looks good on paper, but the money won’t show up right away in state bank accounts, and then won’t be given to schools for months, according to Landon. However, there is some immediate Prop. 30 relief in budget pain in the current fiscal year that began July 1, 2012, Landon said.
That will translate into more school days than originally planned.
Months before voters went to the November polls to decide Prop. 30, the district had to approve its $164 million general operating budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year that began July 1.
“As a school district, we have to present a budget well before July 1,” Landon said. “… The state budget had a built-in assumption that Prop. 30 would pass, [but] the school district could not gamble.”
Instead, Landon said the district planned for failure at the ballot box and made cuts that would balance the budget. The district worked with employee unions to implement days off without pay. The district cut services by about $457 per student, he said.
Now that Prop. 30 has passed, that cut is being reversed, Landon said. The district had planned nine furlough days for managers, teachers, and other district employees, which meant nine fewer instructional days in the school year. Four of those furlough days have passed; the remaining five are being restored, Landon said. That means five more instructional days for students and the result will be 180 instructional school days this school year, he said.
Landon said the district has a wait-and-see outlook for what Prop. 30 will mean in the fiscal year that starts next July 1. Due to the economic downturn and decline in property taxes, he said the district remains cash-strapped.
“We hope the state will manage these revenues [from Prop. 30],” he said. “We hope they will keep education a high priority.”