• The Interdistrict Debate and School Budgets

    by Winston Chua

    ARCADIA – Beverly Hills has been typically known for itswealth and strong education system. It is no surprise, then, that parents wholive outside BHUSD and expected that their children attend the aforementionedcity’s district are upset that their own will no longer be granted thatprivilege.

    “As a parent, what you want for your youngster is to startthem in school and have them finish there,” San Gabriel Superintendent SusanParks said. “It’s ideal to start them and finish them at school with a strongpeer group, friendships and teachers.”

    Tuesday night, the Los Angeles County Office of Educationrejected appeals made by parents who were pining to have their children attendBHUSD. As part of a BHUSD compromise, students currently enrolled at the highschool on permit will be allowed to have their permits renewed, including lastyear’s freshmen.

    So far, LACOE has rejected 25 appeals and granted seven.BHUSD moved into a Basic Aid category earlier this year, meaning that localproperty tax revenues in the area exceed the sum of funding that the statewould have provided.

    School districts can move into the Basic Aid formula as aresult of the state’s fiscal crisis.

    To the extent that BHUSD is, in effect, pushing studentsaway, West San Gabriel Valley cities simply cannot afford to do so. InAlhambra, San Gabriel and Arcadia, revenue limits are tied substantially to theaverage daily attendance (ADA), the average number of students who attendedschool over the course of a year.

    ADA figures help determine the total amount of staterevenue.

    In the Alhambra Unified School District, the revenue limitfor the upcoming year is $98 million, $80 million of which is state aid and $18million of which is from property tax. Denise Jaramillo, the assistantsuperintendent of financial services for Alhambra Unified, said there would be“no benefit to funding based on purely property tax.”

    Arcadia Unified will receive about $5,000 per student fromthe state for the school year 2010-11, or about $49 million.

    Ken Shelton, the assistant superintendent of businessservices for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, said that the statedoes not fund public education when the property tax yield, made up ofcommercial and residential sources, is greater than what the a particulardistrict is entitled to, with some exceptions.

    “It’s not a district choice,” he said. “It’s a combinationof factors that move districts into Basic Aid status.” What can happen is thatwhen property tax revenues are high, districts receive les state aid.

    SGUSD’s Parks said that her district would not be able tosurvive with Basic Aid because many homeowners, who have lived in San Gabrielfor a long time, pay very little in property taxes. The effect of Serrano v. Priestand Proposition 13, which limits property tax revenue, is said to have led tothe decline in quality education in California.

    The Arcadia Unified School District also depends on thestate for much of its funding, because it simply could not survive on propertytaxes alone. The bad part about this is that when the State struggles, so doesAUSD. In Arcadia, the numbers still point to per-pupil funding as a reliableincome source.

    In Arcadia, one of the few times the city rejects studentsis if the students has moved to another city and has not completed their junioryear in school.

    Arcadia School Board member Joann Steinmeier said that herdistrict believes that students should be a part of the district they belongin. One case where students don’t belong as part of her district is badbehavior, that being the main exclusionary rule.

    Arcadia USD transfers roughly the same amount of studentsout of district as they take in.

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