Short-funding taxpayers

I’m confused. According to Debbie Kester’s letter in the Nov. 6 paper, Measure S money is being used to rehire pink slipped employees of the District. Yet, I thought that those pink slips were handed out due to the “unprecedented state cuts in public school funding” (That phrase is right off the ballot measure).

However, now that the dust has settled on the 2003-2004 state budget, it appears that the sky, in fact, did not fall. State spending on K-12 public education for 2003-2004 is up $1.8 billion, or 4.2 percent! Therefore, if, as we were told, our district budget crisis was due solely to the state funding reductions, which never materialized, why is the $5-6 million from this year’s parcel tax being spent at all? Should we not be able to rely on the Citizens Oversight Committee to (God forbid!) save this money as insurance against future (and actual) state funding cuts?

Or do the schools still need the money right now? Is it possible that the district shortfall this year had nothing to do with the state’s overall financial condition, and that we were misled by the “Yes on S” mailers, marchers, and phone bank operators in the month leading up to last spring’s special election?

While state funding for public education is complex, indirect and removed from those who actually foot the bill, any school district receiving direct parcel tax revenues predicated on a bailout scenario has, in effect, made a Faustian Bargain with the district property owners. We gave the district the money as a stop-gap measure because they claimed that the state reduced the funding to the schools. If this is not the case, and Measure S funds are in fact being spent at this time, the district has some explaining to do.

Lester Tobias

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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