By Ralph Mechur, Member, Santa Monica/Malibu Unified School District
Huge thanks are due to the voters of Santa Monica for passing Measures Y and YY this past November. With one-half of the additional revenues going to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, its programs should remain essentially unchanged in the 2011-2012 school year.
Last summer our community raised $1.6 million dollars to forestall cuts for the current school year. Combining these funds with emergency federal funds saved 30 classroom and music teachers, nurses, and librarians from losing their jobs and enabled the district to support additional literacy programs. These funds were only one-time, though, and similar cuts would be expected for next year without additional revenues.
The expected $5 -6 million dollars from Measures y and YY will save teachers jobs, keep our class sizes from increasing, keep our school libraries open and maintain our music program that extends from 3rd grade through high school.
In the future, as the economy rebounds, the gift of Measures Y and YY should provide support to enhance our public school programs. However, in the current period of extraordinarily difficult financial times, the State budget continues to threaten our public schools.
Next year, with the Measure Y and YY funds, our district can maintain our programs, even with the possible $2 billion education take-away at the State level. A talked about larger reduction in funding to California’s schools, as much as an additional $2.8 billion, would require drastic program reductions.
Consequently, we need to stay active to make sure our legislature passes a responsible budget that doesn’t eviscerate our public schools and that we support tax extension measures that may be on this June’s ballot.