tightrope

High school district makes teacher raises official — financial cuts loom and the parcel tax becomes crucial

At the West Sonoma County Union High School District board meeting on Jan. 22, the board unanimously approved the tentative agreement between the district and the West Sonoma County Teachers Association, providing district teachers (and other personnel) with a 12% wage increase over the next three years (a 4% increase per year). The wage increase in the third-year is contingent on the passage of Measure B, a parcel tax on the March 3 ballot.

The district’s interim CBO Anne Barron said that in to order afford the raises, purchase textbooks and preserve the district’s required 3% reserve, the district will have to identify cuts of $400,000 in 2020-21 and $650,000 in 2021-22.

“I know that’s a lot of money,” she said. “And that’s assuming that Measure B passes. If measure B does not pass, we’re looking at a much different situation and we would have to be identifying much larger cuts.”

Barron began to complain about the unfairness of the union’s salary comparisons, which ruffled some feathers, but board members rushed in to smooth them.

“I’m at peace with the raise we’ve given our certificated staff, and the work we have cut out for us is just part and parcel of the same thing,” said board member Diane Landry.

Measure B parcel tax update

Measure B Campaign Manager Jim Walton said these numbers pointed out just how crucial it is to pass Measure B, a $79-a-year parcel tax, which will bring in approximately $1.8 million into district coffers.

Measure B

“If this doesn’t pass, this district is going to be in a world of hurt,” he said.

Walton said he needed more people to step up to donate and participate in the campaign to help get the word out. He also announced that the campaign now has its own website (friendsofwscuhsd.org) where people can learn about the measure and donate online.

Walton said that advocates of Measure B are going to be hitting the pavement in towns all across west county this weekend.

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(3) comments

rossmen

The district needs to close one of its three campuses. There are not enough students to support three campuses anymore. Until this difficult and controversial step is taken by the board and supervisor, the financial death spiral will continue, even if b passes.

nancyh

I think it's going to be an uphill battle. We're being asked for several more taxes on the ballot. And we know there will be more next year because the county is under so much pressure from the homeless and its looming pension liability. Many of us are retired and our social security barely goes up at all, so, as much as we love teachers, it's a heavy lift for us to keep approving any new taxes. And a lot of us won't vote for anything until the Palm Drive District, with its absurd $450k annual overhead for nothing, is dissolved. Teachers should be pressuring LAFCO to get that done to give us taxpayers a little bit of tax relief. We all only have so much money to keep throwing at endless taxes.

MKH

We must fund our schools. The Schools and Communities First Initiative will close the commercial loophole in Prop. 13 and bring billions back to California's public schools. Prior to Prop. 13 California public schools were the nation's Crown Jewels. Let's give the next generation of entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers, farmers and voters the education that the boomers had. The Schools and Communities First initiative only impacts commercial real estate and preserves the tax protection for home owners. Public education is the key to our economy and our democracy. Let's fund our schools, let's give our children a chance to be positive members of society, to enjoy life and to make money.

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