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Williams Introduces Assembly Bill to Protect Santa Barbara School District Funding

The legislation would allow the district to receive money from parcel-tax Measures H and I even after unification is complete

The effort to unify the elementary and secondary divisions of the Santa Barbara School District has received a boost from Assemblyman Das Williams, who has proposed district-specific legislation that would allow it to receive voter-approved parcel taxes even after unification is complete.

Measures H and I were approved by more than 70 percent of voters in 2008, and without Assembly Bill 504, those revenues may not be continued once the former separate districts were technically eliminated, according to a news release sent out Tuesday by Williams’ office.

The bill applies only to Santa Barbara County. Bond measures include language that allows funding to follow district mergers, but somehow parcel tax measures — which are rather new on the school funding scene in comparison — somehow overlooked the issue of unification, according to district Superintendent Brian Sarvis.

Parcel taxes would be kept in the original district boundaries, meaning that efforts to renew or create parcel taxes for the unified district could be separated by former boundaries, so homeowners in Goleta aren’t paying for elementary school projects a town away, Sarvis said.

“We’re very thankful he’s sponsoring this legislation,” he said. “We think it’s consistent with what voters approved — we don’t think voters in other elementary districts should be paying in for the entire (unified) district.”

If unification goes through, the boundaries of the secondary district will become the boundaries of the new district.

“This bill would allow Santa Barbara School District to keep current revenues if they unify in an effort to increase funding,” Williams said in a news release. “That means that the district would receive $6 million more per year, which will prevent cuts that would hurt our kids.”

Measure H and I expire in fiscal year 2012 and soon will have oversight committees in place to ensure the funds — $100 million total — are spent appropriately to supplement math, science, technology, music, arts and foreign language education.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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