School Board, Education Foundation Ready to Take Another Run at Parcel Tax Measures
Officials will consider changes to the proposed rate and ballot language before putting Measures W and X back before voters
With Superintendent Dave Cash looking on, Santa Barbara school board member Monique Limon, left, argued Tuesday night that the proposed $54 per-parcel amount was fine for Measures W and X, while Susan Deacon, right, said she heard a lot of concern about the rate. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
The Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education is ready to try again with parcel tax Measures W and X that failed to get a two-thirds vote June 5, but may change the per-parcel dollar amount or ballot language in an effort to get more support.
Election results haven’t been certified by Santa Barbara County yet, and the district could ask for — and pay for — a recount when they are. The existing parcel taxes, Measures H and I, would have been replaced by Measures W and X next year.
Superintendent Dave Cash said Tuesday night that those measures funded music, arts, foreign language and science programs in all of the district’s schools. The money put a violin in the hands of every fourth-grader, bought tens of thousands of dollars worth of science equipment, provided iPads for most secondary teachers and made available “world-class” arts and theater offerings for junior high and high school students.
“Those things will all be on the table, absent some change in revenue picture for our school district,” Cash said.
The campaign for Measures W and X was run by the Santa Barbara Education Foundation, which has agreed to do it all again if the board decides to put the measures on the November ballot.
Foundation Executive Director Margie Yahyavi said she was heartsick that the measures lost and urged the board to look at it again. The foundation’s board believes low voter turnout was mostly to blame, but Yahyavi said it stings all the more since one failed by only about 120 votes.
“I personally think we need to come out strong,” she said. “It’s just too darn close to whimper or scatter away or be apologetic.”
Foundation board member Mark Ingalls said the campaign was terrific and that the measures didn’t have anything wrong with them, but were defeated by a silent minority. He suggested the board push forward with the same per-parcel amounts and ballot language so the campaign can pick up exactly where it left off.
Board member Annette Cordero said she would be thrilled if the Education Foundation ran the campaign again.
“You’ve demonstrated over and over again your commitment and perseverance not only to serving the schools, but skills and expertise in running a campaign,” she said.
Board members want to try again, but they don’t agree yet on whether the ballot measures will get a makeover before going on the November ballot. There were concerns voiced about competing with Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, too, but the board plans to make final decisions at its June 26 meeting.
Some expressed concern with the proposed $54 per-parcel rate, a doubling of the current rates, saying it is imperative the measures pass — even if it’s for a little less money. Of course, with less money, some of the promises in the ballot measure — most likely the smaller class sizes — would be eliminated.
Board member Ed Heron said the low turnout wasn’t the only reason the measures failed this time. He said the district had to overcome opposition from the Santa Barbara News-Press, Montecito Journal and Republican Party.
Board members said they want to make sure educational efforts are strong this time around, too, so people know what their money would be funding in local schools.
There’s already at least one vocal opponent.
During public comment during Tuesday night’s meeting, Santa Barbara resident Lou Segal fired off against the measures, saying “no reform, no money.” Without changes to the way contracts are written between teachers and the district, he plans to oppose another effort by the measures with his own money — fundraising and writing opposition language for the ballot. He argued that the contracts are “abominations” and teachers are hired for life without evaluation.
“This is not going to happen without a fight,” he said.
After his comments, Cash said: “Much of what was stated was inaccurate.”
The board is also scheduled to adopt the 2012-13 budget at the June 26 meeting. The district faces a $5.9 million cut if Brown’s November tax initiative doesn’t pass, in addition to the millions of dollars already cut during the past several years.
Meg Jette, assistant superintendent of business services, said California’s per-pupil funding is $2,800 below the national average, making it one of the lowest-performing states, and the state government has used deferrals and other methods to deny more than 20 percent of the district’s funding that is entitled.
“I think this should be illegal, but that’s just my personal opinion,” she said.
The district’s entitlement from the state has already been cut by 22.5 percent, and if the “trigger” cuts go through in November, it would essentially cut every dime of the $5.9 million in state aid.
“So basically we will be funded by property taxes next year if the tax initiative doesn’t pass,” Jette said.
To prepare for the worst, the board will vote on a budget that cuts about $6 million for next year with seven furlough days for employees, 57 retirements, resignations and reorganizing the district office, Jette said. The school year would be five days shorter because of the furloughs.
“It’s the double hit,” Cash said, adding that many districts have fallen into basic aid (funded entirely by local property taxes) recently because of the state cuts in revenues, probably more so than any other time in California’s history since Proposition 13 passed.
With furloughs and the increased health costs, teachers are essentially taking a 12 percent cut in pay, David Holmes, a member of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association’s executive board, said during the public comment period. He said teachers’ workloads have only increased in that time, too, with implementing the Common Core in addition to their regular duties.
The classified employees negotiated furlough days with the district, and with the agreement approved on Tuesday, board members thanked the labor group for its sacrifice.
“Words can’t really say how much we appreciate this,” board president Susan Deacon said.
on 06.13.12 @ 08:45 AM
This is doomed to fail. Parcel taxes should never be made permanent school budget fixes. Too many people now understand the role teachers unions are playing always asking for more money, but offering nothing in return.
The whole reason schools say they need parcel taxes is because they created unsustainable teacher union benefits which have nothing to do with quality education for our children.
It is an insult to say you can’t provide core classes that are critical for our children’s future on the $9000 per pupil the students already are getting. What else are you spending this money on if you now claim you cannot even provide math and science classes without dunning local taxpayers endlessly for more money.
Something is very much out of whack and this school board is clearly not the right group to lead our schools into fiscal responsibility. Get rid of tax and spend school board members in the upcoming election.
on 06.13.12 @ 11:20 AM
It’s not just the unions Sy, it’s the entire state legislature that continues to hold our children hostage over taxes. Did it ever occur to anyone that the state, particularly democrats, always say school budgets must be cut first and most before such things as salaries, benefits, or pet projects? The governor wants a multi billion dollar train but says we have to cut education. Legislators always complain they don’t get enough revenue so they want to raise taxes and if you don’t the first thing they say is “well we’ll have to cut education then.”
Come on people, it’s your damned money they are screwing your kids out of and the best you can do is beg tax payers for more? Grow a damned spine and put your foot down. Force these fat cat politicians to cut everything else before education including their bloated salaries. How about telling them to stop chasing good wealth generating industry out of the state for their idiotic ideology so revenues will stop going down?
The state is coercing you and holding your kids hostage. They are twisting your arm behind your back for more money, promising nothing in return and threatening your children if you don’t comply. And your answer is to screw your neighbor because the state is hurting you? Unbelievable! This is what entitlement mindedness, liberalism and the unholy marriage of state democrats and public service unions has brought you. Even if you can’t stand to give up your ideology, even if you really believe the progressive brainwashing you received in college, at least recognize that those you elected are screwing you, no raping you and screwing your children in the name of that very ideology. It’s disgusting and garbage and totally correctable at the ballot box regardless of political persuasion.
on 06.13.12 @ 11:47 AM
As this article indicates, I spoke to the Board and told them without reform I would fight any attempt for additional parcel taxes to fund the schools. Mr. Cash’s response that I was mainly incorrect occurred after I left the meeting. I was absolutely correct because I had the collective bargaining agreement with me, and it is an abomination.
The school committee and the school principal are essentially powerless to run the schools without the union. The agreement covers areas like the school calender, teacher transfers and reassignments, class sizes, evaluation procedures, tenure, seniority, evaluations, curriculums and other areas. Believe it or not, teachers have 17 different leaves and only work 180 days a year, less than 60% of the average employee in the US. Teachers are only evaluated once every 5 years, and, of course as we all know, the evaluations are meaningless.
I told them to make the parcel taxes contingent upon the local union agreeing to eliminate tenure and seniority, which is in their power to do. Well, you can imagine the answer to this proposal. As a matter of fact, the Board President almost tripped over herself complimenting the union representatives for their sacrifices. Is she living in a time warp?
on 06.13.12 @ 12:27 PM
on 06.13.12 @ 04:50 PM
Ed, Please explain why Lou is wrong so we can all understand the explanation.
Also please explain why the amount of the bond needs to double from the current bond? Income wise most people are lucky if they are making the same as they did 4 years ago.
Carpinteria Schools came out against Brown’s tax iniative, as it will reduce their revenue by about $2M per year. What is SB Schools stand on this?
How close to being basic aid is SB Schools? With the unwinding of RDA will SB get to basic aid?
I voted yes on the school bonds, but you can put me in the undecided category until I understand these issues.
on 06.14.12 @ 05:44 PM
CitizenSB all of those are good questions except the first one. I hope Ed or someone answers them clearly.
The mistake Lou is making, at least in these discussion forums and his Noozhawk article a few weeks ago, is trying to tie the teacher’s union contract to the parcel tax issue. They have almost nothing whatsoever to do with each other, but explaining that to someone who so vehemently believes them to be connected is practically a waste of time. For example, Lou Segal can’t fathom for one second that our local teacher’s union has been a good-faith bargaining partner with the district, or that they are responsible for the best teacher evaluation process reform in decades, even though both are completely factual. He brings up a boat load of red herrings and addressing each one is pointless if our discussion is meant to shed light on the parcel tax measures.
Your questions, on the other hand are all pertinent to the parcel tax, and I’m sure plenty of people including me would like to hear a Board member’s response.
on 06.14.12 @ 06:46 PM
“Lou Segal can’t fathom for one second that our local teacher’s union has been a good-faith bargaining partner with the district, or that they are responsible for the best teacher evaluation process reform in decades”
Only a member of the teachers union can make this statement and actually believe it. I will tell you that this statement is a bunch of you know what. Okay Noleta, what happens to a teacher who gets an unsatisfactory evaluation. Please go through the entire process. Remember, I have the collective bargaining agreement, so don’t don’t try pull the wool over our eyes.
I keep telling you why you can tie these Measures with making these reforms, but you conveniently choose to overlook it. Re-read my article and comments. Let’s see how good your reading comprehension is. Hint: There is nothing preventing the local union agreeing to relinquish tenure and seniority.
on 06.14.12 @ 09:42 PM
Noleta, here is the tie-in. Teachers willingly pay their union bosses $1000 a year, instead of legally opting out of forced union membership and in lieu donating this same amount to the SB Education Foundation.
Teachers want us to fork over $54 a year for four years; but they won’t legally donate their $1000 a year union dues directly to local education themselves. So why should we?
The parcel tax was a union scam to get more money because union dues alone leaks $1000 a year out the back door and it never reaches the class room itself. You don’t need heavy duty union representation in SB. call off the big city teacher union thugs and maybe we can try to like “teachers” again. It is all up to you.
on 06.14.12 @ 10:28 PM
All right Lou, I’ll play your silly game, irrelevant to the parcel tax measures though it surely is, because you’re such a maniac about it. Sy, I’ll get to you later.
You’re talking about section 4 of Article 8, for anyone who’s playing along, regarding an unsatisfactory performance evaluation. But first I want to debunk a claim you’ve made that teachers only get evaluated every other year, or every five years. Perhaps you’re confused about that, and anyone whom you’ve convinced that you are an authority on the matter (remember, you’ve got the collective bargaining agreement. big whoop) might also be confused.
First year teachers get evaluated at least three times that year. Temporary teachers, of which there are more and more because the district can’t afford to pay teachers the real salary anymore-I know teachers who have been “temporary” for over ten years!-also get evaluated at least three times a year. Second year teachers get two evaluations, and permanent teachers (or “tenured”, bestowed much too early in my opinion) get evaluated every other year, as long as they don’t get an unsatisfactory evaluation. If a teacher has been 1)employed at least 10 years, 2) meets NCLB’s designation as “highly qualified”, and 3) evaluated as “Meets or Exceeds Standards” on their last evaluation, they may apply for the five-year evaluation plan and if the administration agrees to it then, and only then will that teacher be evaluated once every five years, and either party can change their mind at any time.
Ok? that wasn’t too hard, I hope.
I have to sign off here, but Next post: I answer Lou’s burning question: what happens to a baaaaad teacher!
on 06.15.12 @ 12:04 AM
Noleta, until this year, it was my understanding that tenured teachers were evaluated every 5 years until the present Superintendent vetoed this process. Now it is every two years. You forgot to tell us what happens if a teacher is given an unsatisfactory grade. Please inform us about the grievance procedures and the appeals process and how that works. Don’t forget to leave out any of the steps, including the independent mediator.
Also, tell me why these evaluations are meaningful if a teacher can’t be dismissed, and his/her pay is based on seniority and not performance. Why you are at it, tell me how many teachers in the SB School District have been dismissed in the last 5 years or even disciplined.
Also, how do you like section of the contract with the 17 leaves teachers are granted.
Personal Illness and Injury
Personal Necessity Leave
Personal Absence Leave
Contagious disease Quarantine Leave
Family Illness Leave
Industrial Accident or Illness leave
Judicial and Official Appearance Leave
Health Family Hardship Leave
Family and Medical Care Leave
Guess how many days a teacher works in a calender year? According to your collective bargaining agreement, teachers work no more than 185 days before any of these leaves are taken into consideration. That is around 70% to 75% of what everyone else with a normal job has to work.
After we cover all these areas, we can then talk about the teacher transfer and reassignment process and some of the other good stuff.
on 06.15.12 @ 09:31 AM
I am a bigger believer in paying the top workers more, and every year taking out the bottom layer. Not everyone can be on the team.
Lack of terminating the bottom performers and rewarding the top performers may be the single biggest issue with CA schools. How to you promote excellence in teaching?
I read about changes in DC a couple years ago that made big improvements in their education system. Seems there could be a model that works.
At the end of the day the parcel tax is not directly related to union contracts and teacher performance, but certainly taxpayers want an effective educational system and do not want their money wasted.
on 06.15.12 @ 04:36 PM
In the spirit of providing information, although totally irrelevant to the parcel tax issue, I will now do my best to answer Lou Segal’s original question: what happens to a teacher who gets an unsatisfactory evaluation from an administrator? Since Lou has a short attention span, however, I will first address his latest confusion, even though it’s pretty much right there in front of him.
No, Lou, you are mistaken about the 5 year evaluation plan. It only is available to teachers meeting the requirements I described earlier. “Tenured” teachers may have only taught for three years, but to apply for the 5 yr plan a teacher must have taught for 10 yrs. As an aside, I think the designation “tenured” is given much too early. It should be a minimum of 5 years, in my opinion. But that’s yet another irrelevant topic.
So if a teacher gets a bad evaluation here’s what is supposed to happen. The administrator and the teacher meet to discuss the issue in a prescribed way: the nature of the problem(s), what to do about it, a timeline for improvement, and suggested resources for the teacher to use. Then a minimum of three more observations are scheduled, with lesson plans provided in advance, meetings after each one and written assessments completed and filed. If the teacher improves enough over those three evaluations then the process is done for that year. It’s pretty much up to the administrator to decide if the teacher has improved, and if not the process is either extended until the teacher does improve, or until “termination procedures” begin, and as far as I can tell those are not defined by the contract.
So that’s the boring, administrivial-to-the-max process, but there’s soooo much more to it that is not in the contract. The “instrument” mentioned in section 2.7 or Article 8 is what I referred to in an earlier post, what Lou calls “a bunch of you know what”. It’s changed the whole process of teacher evaluations from a formality to an in-depth exposition of the minutiae of teaching. No longer does and administrator get to just check a bubble that says ‘good, bad, indifferent’ essentially. Now there are many more highly elucidated standards with 5-level rubrics, each composed of the most rarified educanto. It’s way, way more work, but it’s also way more informative and valuable. Teachers and administrators are tagged with the job of really thinking about and analyzing the craft and skill of teaching, and responding to problems thoughtfully. This instrument was basically written by the teacher’s union in cooperation with the District personnel officers. The teacher’s union wants to have high quality teachers just like everyone else. So Lou you are factually incorrect there also. It’s not “you know what”, it’s fact.
Aren’t you glad you asked? It’s so easy to predict what’s next from Lou: he’s going to complain that the process is too easy on teachers. And that there are too many ‘leaves’ in the contract. Maybe he’s right. It clearly is more difficult than it should be to fire a bad teacher.
Every profession has practitioners of a range of talents and dispositions. Your field, Lou, whatever that is, is surely no exception. Is everyone fantastically talented, are some people kind of average, some people below average, and others really suck? Where do you draw the line between keep and dump? Who gets to decide? Shouldn’t it be the people most involved in the process and who are most knowledgeable, or should it be the public? Anyone who doesn’t like what a teacher does or doesn’t do gets to decide if that teacher should be kept or let go? It’s not always so easy as the Lou Segals would like it to be.
So much more to say, but I am far too verbose as it is. Lou, yes 17 kinds of leave is kinda crazy, but if you actually take the time to read all of that stuff it’s really not strange. Just incredibly, unbelievably thorough, as a complete legal document tends to be. Not all of those leaves are paid, and some of them overlap. It should be a model for all employment sectors. As for your timeworn 185-days-a-year complaint, are you serious? You don’t know that teachers spend a part of nearly every weekend grading and preparing? That they spend several unpaid days before each year setting up their classrooms? That they volunteer to work school plays, sporting events, and other student events? That they volunteer to facilitate student clubs? That they give up lunch breaks all the time to work with students or monitor recess? That they attend conferences and CPR classes and all manner of professional improvement seminars during the summer? And that the summer break is technically uncompensated unless the teacher elects to have their paycheck split into smaller parts so they will have income for 12 instead of only 10 months?
Honestly, you should really stick to the parcel tax issue.
on 06.15.12 @ 09:24 PM
Noleta res -
It is hard to take you serious when you do not at least admit there is always room for improvement. My kids all went through public schools here is SB graduating over the last 7 years, I could see first hand the good and bad teachers.
I regularly follow Bill Gates research on educations and agree completely with his thinking, when 98% of teachers get satisfactory or better reviews we have a problem. If we are not terminating at least the bottom 5% each year we are not strengthing the bench. When we terminate the ‘teacher of the year’ instead of a bottom ranked teacher we have a problem.
While you might not think this has nothing to with the parcel tax, it certainly does have to with getting voters to support the tax.
on 06.15.12 @ 11:57 PM
Citizen I don’t know what part of my posts gave you the impression I don’t think there’s any room for improvement. I was just summarizing the process outlined in the contract. Geez, there’s gobs of room. Don’t get me started on all the problems in our schools. My kids have also gone through local public schools and have had teachers that were good and bad. Mostly pretty good and some were awesome, but a few sketchy ones. None were so bad that I thought they should be fired, though. I mean wouldn’t it be great if every teacher a kid had in their life was a creative, inspiring hero of education? I think my kids are pretty lucky to have had a few, and I think by and large our teachers are way above average. Way better than the ones I had in school, at least. Keep in mind that Bill Gates isn’t talking about Santa Barbara schools, he’s talking about U.S. schools. The parcel tax measures are about Santa Barbara students. Bringing up national or even statewide issues of education is clearly a red herring meant to confuse people. In a way your comment is an admission that these issues have nothing to do with the parcel tax measures, and instead are a distraction from them, and I hope they’re back on the ballot and pass.
I shouldn’t have taken Lou’s bait and gotten distracted about the contract. He’s asking questions he already knows the answer to, or at least he should if he really does have a copy of it and knows how to read. I’m done playing your quiz game, Lou. I have better things to do.
on 06.16.12 @ 02:54 AM
Noleta, I am also getting tired of responding to your half truths, evasions and distortions. The bottom line is that you can’t dismiss a teacher. Only 1/10 of 1% of teachers are dismissed for poor performance in Ca. The principal has no discretion in getting rid of ineffective teacher nor can he pay high performing teachers more than mediocre teachers. Regardless of all your excuses, this system is a farce.
Tenured teachers are now evaluated every two years. However, you can say whatever you want, but these evaluations are meaningless because the teacher can’t be fired nor can his pay be adjusted. There is nothing the principal can reasonably do to reward the teacher or penalize him for good or bad performance. How come you didn’t answer my question regarding how many teachers in the SB District have been let go for poor performance in the last 5 years. Why don’t you tell us how to get rid of an ineffective teacher. Hint: you have to go to the state code to find out. How much money has the California teacher unions spent in the last 10 years to defeat any attempt to reform public education. If you guessed $200 million, you would be right.
The system is rotten to the core and I, for one, will not hand over anymore of my money to the public schools until these practices are reformed. Even some prominent Democrats, like the Mayor of Los Angeles, are frustrated with the teacher unions. The local union could make these concessions, but everyone knows they will fight to the death before that happens. BTW, which elementary school did your kid go to? Most parents would never send their children to at least 2/3 of the elementary schools in SB.
Anyone who has a modicum of knowledge of public education in the US knows it is failing our children. If you think otherwise, you must have been living on Mars. Stop rationalizing the problems and defending the indefensible, because it makes you look like a union lapdog.
on 06.16.12 @ 04:39 PM
Gee what a surprise. Lou’s not going to vote for the parcel tax because he doesn’t like the teacher’s union. He wants national/state reform, and he is frustrated beyond words at the fact that he can’t just fire a teacher he doesn’t like. Maybe he’s got some unresolved childhood issues involving an abusive teacher. Who knows? It’s kind of pathetic, but I’ve more than said my piece and have had enough abuse from him.
on 06.17.12 @ 06:06 AM
@lou. Good job. I enjoyed watching (reading) your process of painting res into a corner using just his rebuttals. Nice…his final comment proved your presentation. Checkmate.
on 06.17.12 @ 10:48 AM
on 06.17.12 @ 06:37 PM
So I was reading the recommendations of a task force led by Peter MacDougall (Joan Livingston, Trustee of SBCC referred me to it)to improve outcomes for students attending community colleges, and I noticed one statistic I found shocking. Between 70-90% of first-time Ca. community college students require remediation in English, math or both. This statistic probably sums up the state of our public school system in Ca. more than anything else. It is amazing to think that close to 100% of the students entering CC are not adequately prepared for college level courses. If this doesn’t demonstrate the need for fundamental reform, then I am afraid nothing will persuade the defenders of the status quo. I will never agree to these parcel taxes or any other additional taxes for the schools without the reform.
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