So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Prop. 30 fact check: Will higher taxes push businesses to leave California?

Consumer Confidence Index Hits Lowest Level Since Record Began In 1967

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A parking lot is seen empty at an out-of-business store January 27, 2009 in Vallejo, California. Fact check No. 1: Higher taxes aren't necessarily a business killer -- divorce may be a bigger factor.

With less than a week to the Nov. 6 election, there's a lot of information - and misinformation - out there about Prop. 30. The measure, supported by Gov. Jerry Brown, would raise sales and income taxes in order to avert $6 billion in primarily education cuts.

Prop. 30 is written into the enacted 2012-13 California budget, which presumes that the measure will be approved by a majority of voters Tuesday. Over the next several posts, we'll try to break down the proposition and examine the big questions that have been raised in political ads over the last weeks.

What Prop. 30 does: Increases personal income tax for seven years on people making more than $250,000. It would be implemented retroactively, starting Jan. 1, 2012. People making between $250,000 and $300,000 would pay 1% more (up to $3,000). People making between $300,000 and $500,000 would pay 2% more and people making more than $500,000 would pay 3% more in taxes.


LAUSD goes for Race to the Top funds without union signature (Updated)

John Deasy

Nick Ut/AP

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy submitted an application for $40 million in Race to the Top funds Thursday without the support of United Teachers Los Angeles.

L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy submitted an application for $40 million in federal Race to the Top money Thursday without the support of United Teachers Los Angeles.

The grant application requires the teachers' union, school board and superintendent to sign off, but earlier this week officials said the district and union could not agree on details of the application.

Deasy submitted the application anyway, with a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asking the Department of Education to consider the district for the award despite the lack of support from its union.

"It is simply wrong for the opposition of one organization -- UTLA -- to deny LAUSD the opportunity to funding that would provide tremendous benefits to our students," Deasy wrote.

L.A. Unified's 150-page application proposes a $43.3 million budget for reforms that would require $3.3 million in funds beyond the $40 million federal award. Deasy said union officials were informed that philanthropy would supply the additional money.


Teachers asking school districts to maintain benefits by tapping into reserves

To remain fiscally solvent, California requires all public school districts to maintain a rainy day, reserve fund of about three percent of their unrestricted funds.

Those reserve funds are becoming a bone of contention at some school districts as teachers unions oppose contract concessions, asking why district reserve funds can’t be used.

One such district, the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District in the San Gabriel Valley, appears to be an oasis in the desert of education funding.

“We have no furloughs. We still have 20-1 for kindergarten through third grade. And we’ve basically had no cutbacks,” said teachers union president Dani Tucker. She thanks the district’s hefty reserve funds. It’s come at a cost, she says: low teacher salaries, cuts in supply budgets, and increased class sizes.


Beyond Props 30 & 38: Education ballot measures you need to know about before voting

Pennsylvania Voters Take Part In The State's GOP Primary

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This week Gov. Jerry Brown launched a media blitz supporting Proposition 30.  If we can glean anything from the commercial breaks between the wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Sandy, Molly Munger has also stepped up her TV ad campaign for Prop 38. But  a lot of other ballot measures that could have a big impact on education may glide under your radar screen.

Let’s get to them.

In Los Angeles County, 15 bond measures seek to benefit local schools. Districts are asking voters’ approval to borrow from $18 million to $385 million to repair leaky roofs, make seismic retrofits, modernize science labs, and construct new buildings.  For the most part the districts with the greatest need aren't asking for the most money. It’s the opposite. The smaller the bond the more modest (and sometimes dire) the improvements seem to be. Um…asbestos removal?


LA teachers union blocks LAUSD's Race to the Top (Updated)

John Deasy

Nick Ut/AP

The L.A. teachers' union refused to sign off on the LAUSD Race to the Top application, effectively taking it out of the running for $40 million in federal funds.

Citing long-term budget concerns, the union for schoolteachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District has refused to sign off on the district's Race to the Top grant application, effectively taking the nation's second-largest school district out of the running for $40 million in federal funds.

L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy, sounding deflated, said Tuesday morning that the district had tried to work with United Teachers Los Angeles and couldn't understand why no deal was reached.

"They gave a number of different reasons and every single reason they gave we accommodated," Deasy said.

Initial concerns about ongoing discussions to meet a Dec. 4 court-imposed deadline for a new teacher evaluation system were addressed by the district. The Race to the Top competition requires districts to adopt an evaluation system that incorporates student test scores. Deasy said L.A. Unified provided the union with a legal assurance that plans for Race to the Top would be treated separately from negotiations.