Anxious to divert attention from real-world economic contexts, and from SRVUSD's fiscal irresponsibility, some Measure C tax promoters portray themselves falsely as "fiscal conservatives." They won't fool attentive voters.
Campaigning for the current parcel tax in 2004, the district's PR spokesman claimed "an understanding there will not be a pay raise next year" (SRV Times, March 28, 2004). But in fact, 2005's retroactive raise was just the first of four raises (totaling 20.2 percent, compounded) implemented since then, atop built-in contractual step and column increases.
The district's skyrocketing spending trajectory is even more remarkable over longer periods. SRVUSD first sought a parcel tax during 1991-92, alleging mostly the same "needs" as now. That year, the district's general fund spent $6,092 per student, in today's dollars. That tax campaign failed.
Today, the district's per-student general fund income is at least $8,221 - i.e., $205,525 in annual operational dollars alone (atop capital improvements) per 25-student classroom. And at $215 million, SRVUSD's 2008-09 general fund revenues alone are nearly $60 million ahead of inflation and enrollment growth, combined, since 1991-92.
So the district has dusted off its 2004 parcel-tax playbook, again projecting severe enrollment-growth reductions - from an actual average of 971 students annually since passing 2004's parcel tax - suddenly now to just 217 new students projected next year, with a correspondingly large (but fictitious) funding deficiency, since state funds depend on student numbers. With orchestrated media fanfare, 228 teachers have received potential-layoff notices.
During 2004's similarly deceptive parcel-tax campaign, SRVUSD projected just 212 new students the following year; 225 teachers received potential-layoff notices. But 836 new students actually materialized, and no teacher layoffs occurred.
The district's most recent 2008-09 year-end projections show $6.9 million reserved for "economic uncertainties" (isn't that our present condition?), another $5.6 million in "unencumbered reserves," and $1 million more in discretionary "carryover" funds.
In the meantime, California's state treasury, the primary source of school funding, will be engorged by a 1 percent sales-tax increase ($300 more on a $30,000 automobile), 0.5 percent car-tax increase ($150 more on a car valued at $30,000), and apparently a 0.25 percent income-tax surcharge.
* Exposed in "Not as Good as You Think" (Pacific Research Institute), SRVUSD high schools perform poorly in State testing of college readiness - averaging only 43 percent proficiency in English, for example.
* And among similar schools, SRVUSD's Academic Performance Index ratings average just 6.9 out of 10. Taxpayers deserve better performance, and fewer minimum days, without higher parcel taxes.
* SRVUSD's teacher unionists already receive up to $86,226 (plus extraordinary benefits, including tenured job security and lucrative defined-benefit pensions) for 186 employment days annually, versus 250 days for most workers.
* Parcel tax dollars are fungible, like bailouts and bonuses. Measure C's "citizen oversight" committee would confirm funding of announced programs with $7 million in annual parcel-tax receipts in (let's call it) Column A. Meanwhile, large amounts in Column B - previously the funding source for these programs - would be freed up for another series of large raises for all district employees, including administrators.
* Regarding Measure C's senior exemption, fair-minded seniors recognize the inequity in backing taxes they needn't pay themselves.
Long and short, Measure C is not about academic excellence. Instead, it's about the next series of cross-the-board SRVUSD raises, without regard to merit. For more information, visit www.NOonC.info.
Michael Arata, an industrial water-treatment consultant, was a high school chemistry and mathematics instructor for 20 years and a swimming coach.