Options for the proceeds include reducing teacher furloughs
By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Santa Rosa City Schools is examining the options of reinstating up to three classroom days to the current school year and returning the budgetary reserve to 3 percent in the wake of Proposition 30′s passage last week.
Proposition 30 temporarily increases the state sales tax by a quarter-cent and income taxes on the wealthy by 1 to 3 percent, staving off what Gov. Jerry Brown said would have been $4.8 billion in cuts to K-12 education in the current school year.
Area school districts were directed to build their 2012-13 budgets on the assumption that the measure would fail. That strategy means $7.2 million in Santa Rosa City Schools’ coffers can now be used this school year.
“My members would prefer (furlough days) to go away,” said Andy Brennan, president of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association. “It’s a big concern on two fronts — we need the instructional time, and it’s a matter of salary.”
The six furlough days currently built into the 2012-13 calendar represent a 3.25 percent pay cut to teachers.
The elimination of furlough days must be negotiated with affected unions. Remaining furlough days are scheduled for Nov. 19 and 29, March 29, and April 1 and 29.
To return the district’s budgetary reserve from one percent to three percent would cost approximately $2.6 million, according to Doug Bower, associate superintendent.
The school board, which was briefed on the subject Wednesday night, will revisit it after financial forecasts are released in December and Brown issues his preliminary budget in January.
Kim Agrella, the district’s executive director of fiscal services, urged caution.
“It’s very important that our community understands that Proposition 30 does not mean new money to schools,” she said.
Long term, Proposition 30 maintains current levels of funding.
Brennan, who has long urged Sonoma County’s largest school district to consider putting either a parcel tax or bond measure before area voters, agreed.
“Proposition 30 kept us from drowning,” he said. “Now we are just treading water. And the question is, how long can we tread?
“We won’t die at this point, but we won’t improve.”
Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs. pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, kerry.benefield@press democrat.com or on Twitter @benefield.