Now that we've had time to absorb the election results, it's a good time to do some follow-up planning. With the failures of both the Tamalpais Union High School District's Measure B and Novato's Measure A, does this signal that taxpayers finally connected the dots?
At the state level, Prop 13 – the $15 billion bond measure - is still trailing, and looks unlikely to pass. At the district level statewide, 70% of the 100+ local k-12 bond measures have also failed or are still too close to call.
Has this been a wake-up call for school officials here in Marin? Are they ready to lobby for pension reform? I hope so, but I doubt it.
EdSource reports that
“A fraction of 1 percent is creating stress for school superintendents. California districts have been building their budgets for next year under the assumption they’ll get a 3 percent cost of living adjustment. Instead, Gov. Gavin Newsom has included an adjustment of only 2.29 percent for K-12 schools in 2020-21. Districts are complaining that the difference — while less than three-quarters of 1 percent — is compounding an already financially fraught year, in which there’s not enough money to cover basic operating expenses.“
CLICK HERE to read the entire EdSource Article.
As Dick Spotswood stated in a recent column:
"Any ballot argument for school tax increases which ignores the elephant in the room — paying off unsustainable pension promises — is just insulting the voters. To win at the polls and stay out of the red, school trustees and teachers’ unions should focus on demanding pension reform from Sacramento."
Instead of formulating a plan to address the issue of unfunded pension debt through reform measures, schools are instead discussing plans to cut back on teachers and staff. With California already in the lower nationwide rankings in achievement, what we most need are excellent teachers with decent salaries and excellent materials, staff and facilities – not cuts.
This is not attainable, however, when huge portions of school budgets’ are going to pay for retiree pensions and benefits.
Since pension reform is unlikely to become a hot topic at school board meetings, it’s time for taxpayers to demand that it be front and center on their agendas. We will be discussing this more in the near future.
Jody - CSPP