This week, on April 26 Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will be sending every Santa Monica resident ballots in the mail. These ballots are for a special election on Measure A, which is a special parcel tax to help fund district schools.
The Santa Monica Mirror endorses Measure A and encourages all Santa Monica residents to vote for it. Simply put, we feel the quality of this community’s schools is directly linked to the quality of the community itself.
Measure A calls for a $198-per-parcel tax, with a senior citizen exemption, which would raise about $5.8 million for the district to offset the projected $14.5 million budget fall from the State. The State’s budget crisis has already reduced education funding by an average of $10 million each year over the last two fiscal years in Santa Monica.
As a response, the district has already cut $4.5 million by reducing staff, trimming salaries, and increasing class sizes, among other methods.
Additionally, the district has drained half of the $20 million reserve funds to feed the deficit this school year, and without Measure A, will drain the rest to cover part of the gap next year. That fund is to cover the district from natural disasters, not from the State’s fiscal disaster.
Without additional sources of revenue, it will be forced to lay off up to 75 of 580 District teachers, increase class sizes by up to 30 percent reduce the number of school instructional days, cut counselors and librarians, close school libraries, reduce programs in reading, writing, science, art and music.
About 80 percent of Santa Monicans don’t have children in SMMUSD. But this majority enjoys the prestige of this community because it has a high quality of educational success, which causes high property values, keeps students in school, and makes the community a safe and desirable place to live. And with 70 percent of residents being renters, Measure A translates to an average of $2 more per month for those confused on how this affects them.
There is a reason so many organizations have endorsed this measure – including the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and Santa Monica for Renters Right – and we here at the Mirror also encourage you to vote yes for Measure A.
Mirror Contributing Writeropinion@smmirror.com