LAUSD asks voters to tax themselves
Cynthia E. Griffin- | 3/14/2012, 5 p.m.
The Los Angeles Unified School District school board this week voted 6-1 to put a measure on the upcoming November ballot that would ask property owners within the school district boundaries to impose a $298 a year parcel tax on themselves.
The next step now is putting together the ballot argument, which must be competed by August in order to qualify for the fall election.
Board member Marguerite LaMotte cast the lone dissenting vote. She declined to support the tax because she did not feel comfortable asking voters for this additional revenue in light of some of the district's expenditures--awarding of contracts, as well as the "give-away" of schools to outside operators. LaMotte feels the latter action takes money from district coffers.
If passed by two-thirds of voters, the measure would raise $255 million annually for five years to help underwrite school funding beginning in fiscal year 2013-14.
Over the past five years, LAUSD has suffered $2.3 billion in funding cuts from the state, according to Superintendent John Deasy, and depending on the governor's May budget revise, could be looking at a $390.2 million shortfall for the upcoming 2012-13 school year.
The parcel tax would amount to about $25 per month for property owners and would be used to keep classroom student-teacher ratios at current levels or below; support arts, early childhood and education programs; and retain quality teachers.
To ensure that the money raised is being properly spent, an independent audit will be conducted annually and there is talk of assembling an citizen's oversight committee to monitor spending.
The last time the LAUSD attempted a parcel tax in June 2010, the annual fee was $100. But Measure E, as it was called, failed to get a yes from two-thirds of those casting ballots. About 198,586 or 52.95 percent "yes" ballots were cast versus 176,459 or 47.05 percent "no" votes.