By Laurie Lieberman – SMMUSD Board Member
I am grateful to the voters for their support of Proposition 30 and our local school bond measure – ES.
The passage of Proposition 30 enables the Santa Monica-Malibu School District to stave off dramatic cuts in operating expenses, while ES will allow for needed repair and safety improvements to our aging facilities, modernization of classrooms, and continuation of the vital re-building of Santa Monica High School for the 21st century.
The passage of Proposition 30 means that school districts throughout the State will avoid damaging cuts – shortened academic calendars, increased class sizes, teacher layoffs, cuts to core programs along with music, arts, and physical education – which would have occurred if the measure had not passed.
The SMMUSD would have faced budget cuts of approximately $5 million, effective virtually immediately.
However, it is important to understand that Proposition 30 did not provide schools with new revenues; California’s schools continue to receive less than the minimum guarantee made years ago by Proposition 98.
Even with Proposition 30’s success, our District projects an operational deficit in the current and future years, which is ultimately unsustainable. With dwindling reserves, we must continue discussing budget priorities and how we can maintain a strong, exceptional educational program for all students.
In Santa Monica-Malibu, we are fortunate to live in a community that values education so highly that it has voted time and again for local school funding measures.
Our cities have weathered State funding cuts to a great degree by passing local measures that enable our schools to continue to provide music and art, strong athletics, and reasonable class sizes, where other districts have already been forced to make dramatic cuts in these areas and more. This is an untenable situation for the State, since most districts are unable to fill in the gaps in State funding with local support.
Proposition 30 is a stopgap measure that enables the State’s public schools to avert further catastrophe and will hopefully provide the impetus for education finance reform to begin in earnest.
Educators are hopeful that the Governor’s January budget will reflect a stronger California economy and additional good news for schools.