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Coronado School Officials Relieved Proposition 30 Passed

In a rare move, voters across the state opted to tax themselves to help keep schools solvent.

Proposition 30 was sold as a way to help public schools. A day after its passage with 54 percent of the vote, educators across the state were relieved, if not elated. Coronado school officials were no exception.

“It means Coronado families can breathe easier knowing that our schools will stay open at least through the 2015-2016 school year,” Superintendent Jeffrey Felix said. “Californians have allowed our schools a reprieve, but the problem of over-taxing and under-funding still exists.”

Officials from Felix to his principals had had fears about the impacts of such cuts, which would have been triggered in the middle of this school year.

The superintendent has said Coronado campuses would have been able to get through the remainder of this school year on their $27 million budget, but that serious cuts loomed for the 2013 school year.

Beginning in January, state residents will pay one-quarter of a percent more in sales tax for four years; that's an increase of approximately one cent for every four dollars spent.

Those who earn over $250,000 a year will see their state income taxes rise by three percent. A competing measure, Proposition 38, which would have led to increased property taxes for those in all income brackets, failed. 

Proposition 30's defeat would have forced a $5 billion cut in spending, with public schools bearing the brunt. School districts that have been reeling from shrinking revenues for years championed the initiative, sought by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Coronado granted that it would have been in better shape than other districts, predominantly because officials never believed the state would backfill earlier budget takeaways. 

Felix, who had taken an increasingly dire stance in recent months, had warned that without the additional money city schools "would be out of business by 2014."

Realistically, districts in Coronado and elsewhere would have cut instructional days, shortening a school year that already had been trimmed in prior rounds of budget battles.

Felix had suggested alternatives for Proposition 30's failure, including cuts of up to 1/6 of the district's staff, or a strict focus on core subjects such as reading and math over electives and other programs.

In the weeks leading up to Tuesday's election, he was reluctant to commit to what cuts could be on the table, prior to more serious talks with the school board, the community and the teachers union, with which the district has to bargain.

In real dollars, Proposition 30's success means the district will have $1.3 million to spend, according to Randie Allen, associate superintendent for business and finance. She warns however that the while the measure helps in the short term, it doesn’t solve the district's financial issues.

“Due to the severity of the cuts over the past five years, the district will still need to draw down reserves in order to meet financial obligations over the next three years,” Allen said.  

Still Felix promised to “make the most of the time and work hard to give all Coronado children the first-class education the community expects.”

 

Editor Jennifer Vigil contributed to this report.

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