A free education isn’t really free. There are transportation fees, field trip costs, uniform deposits, classroom supply lists and increasingly, according to the ACLU, fees for textbooks and enrollment in particular classes. Now, the Legislature is considering a bill that would prevent schools from charging for elements of a core education.
The plan sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature calls for sweeping changes to the criminal justice system, curtails local redevelopment projects, closes state parks and reduces welfare programs that serve hundreds of needy families and individuals in Sonoma County.
The governor’s May revision proposes that funding for education remain at 2009 levels for the next two years, but it also includes revenue from the extension of the temporary tax rates. This tax revenue is essential to settling the state’s legal debt obligation to schools.
Sonoma County school districts have a wide disparity in test scores and spending per pupil, and money often does not guarantee academic success. “It isn’t about how much money you have. It’s about what you’re doing with the money,” said Chris Rafanelli, superintendent of Liberty School District.
“It’s a mixed bag,” says Steve Herrington, Sonoma County schools superintendent. While Gov. Jerry Brown proposed restoring $3 billion in funding to schools, much of his revised $88.8 billion spending plan hinges on the extension of temporary taxes. Controversial plans to close 70 state parks and eliminate redevelopment agencies remain in the revised budget. The reaction from local officials.
The borrowing has allowed the district to weather the temporary shortfalls caused by the state delaying scheduled payments — a strategy the state uses to deal with its own money woes.
County schools Superintendent Steven Herrington says three conditions are needed to consolidate school districts: agreement within the community, economic benefit and enhancement of the educational program. “If all three conditions are in place, then reorganization is a better educational option for the community,” he says. Here, he provides a road map for consolidation.
New county supervisors Mike McGuire and David Rabbitt, Sheriff Steve Freitas, District Attorney Jill Ravitch and County Counsel Bruce Goldstein all begin new positions this week. State officials associated with the county, including six new superior court judges and new county schools chief Steve Herrington, will also take office over the next two weeks.
Not every candidate is sweating the last-minute get-out-the-vote drive today. Windsor Police Chief Steve Freitas becomes Sonoma County’s next elected sheriff by default on Tuesday, extending a two-decade streak of uncontested elections for the job.
Others to cruise into office Tuesday in unopposed races are Steve Herrington as Sonoma County’s next school superintendent, Nancy Shaffer as a Sonoma County superior court judge and incumbents Janice Atkinson as county clerk-recorder and Rod Dole as county auditor-controller.
UPDATE (5:05 p.m.): Evans reports money in state Senate race while Fudge discloses contributions in 4th District supes race. It’s the filing deadline for county and state candidates to submit campaign finance statements. Check back for live updates.