Community

District Faces Tough Decisions Following Defeat of Parcel Tax

The San Marino educational community is mobilizing its response to the defeat of Measure E, the parcel tax which raised more than $4 million annually for the district’s schools.
At its meeting on Tuesday evening, the San Marino school board was expected to approve a resolution calling for the elimination of 41 teaching and advisory positions in order to balance the budget for the 2021-22 school year. By law, the district must provide layoff notices for the upcoming school year to employees by Monday, March 15. The call has also gone out to the San Marino Schools Foundation [SMSF], an organization which is typically enlisted for duty during times of financial duress.
“As you can imagine, we are very concerned for our schools and thinking through our fundraising approach given the election results and the impact to our teachers,” said Erin Bilvado, SMSF’s president. “We are meeting with the district leadership team and trustees this next week to formulate a plan to bring forward to our SMSF board. This includes intake of the new budget gap and any additional funding request from the district as a result of the election. This critical information will then drive a plan for review at our board meeting later this month. The trustees would approve any revision to our current fundraising goal of $3.1 million.”
The SMSF’s next board meeting is slated for Wednesday, March 31, according to executive director James Lau. The Foundation’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30, which is the time frame for the SMSF to reach its fundraising goal.
In the face of pending layoffs last year, the Schools Foundation spared 14 full-time positions within the San Marino Unified School District that were in danger of being laid off by raising more than $1.2 million through its “We Are San Marino” campaign, which ran from March through early June, 2020. The school board was then able to rescind all layoff notices in June 2020.
The board will also revisit the prospect of placing the parcel tax on a future ballot. School board president Shelley Ryan said that according to attorneys for the school district, the possible election dates fall in August and November, which is after the beginning of the SMUSD’s 2021-22 fiscal year.
A second school parcel tax — Measure R — is scheduled to sunset in June, 2025. First approved by voters in 1991, Measure R generates $1.6 million annually at $366 per parcel and also includes all parcels and commercial properties located within the city of San Marino as well as the boundaries of the San Marino Unified School District. Measure R currently carries a six-year term and requires two-thirds approval by voters.

Now in his 25th year at The Tribune, Mitch Lehman is Editor and Sports Editor in addition to being the public address announcer for ten sports programs at San Marino High School. Mitch is one of only a handful in the community to receive the ‘Very Special Person Award’ from the San Marino PTA at the annual Founder’s Day ceremony, was acknowledged as a 'Terrific Titan' by the San Marino High School PTSA, was named an Honorary Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of San Marino and received a National Honorary Merit Badge in Journalism from the Boy Scouts of America. He has received two independent Pulitzer Prize nominations and in the past three years, Mitch has won seven awards and is a thirteen-time finalist in the California News Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest. In 2015, the press box at Titan Stadium was re-named 'Lehman's Loft' in his honor. You can reach Mitch at mitchlehman@sanmarinotribune.com.

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