Hart Board to review resolutions for funding, staffing

The William S. Hart Union High School District. Dan Watson/The Signal
The William S. Hart Union High School District. Dan Watson/The Signal

The William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board is expected to discuss three resolutions related to statewide school funding and districtwide staffing Wednesday.

During its upcoming meeting, the Hart district is expected to adopt a resolution calling on the state Legislature to process and distribute the entirety of the Proposition 51 School Facilities Funds approved by voters Nov. 8, 2016.

These $9 billion in school facilities funds are dedicated to supporting the construction and modernization of school districts throughout the state.

However, as of Dec. 5, 2017, more than $3.2 billion of this funding is backlogged in project applications filed by school districts to the state, according to the Hart district resolution.

“It certainly affects hundreds of districts up and down the state,” Hart board President Steve Sturgeon said.  “It was a democratic vote by the public, by parents, by staff to fund school facilities and, quite frankly, the governor is stopping it.”

The resolution calls on the state Legislature to process these backlogged applications by Dec. 31, 2018, and to sell $3 billion in Prop 51 state school bonds during the 2018-19 school year.

This, according to the resolution, will help school districts and communities that face rising construction costs, inflation and increased interest rates during the lifetime of the bond measure.

For the Hart district, this action will also provide additional state funding for school facilities projects the district has planned for the future, according to Sturgeon.

“We have somewhere in the areas of $80 million in approved projects so that money will come someday,” Sturgeon said.

Full and Fair Funding

Following the direction of the California School Boards Association (CSBA), and three other districts throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, the Hart district is also expected to adopt a resolution asking for the full and fair funding of California’s public schools.

The resolution asks the California legislature to raise school funding to the national average by 2020 and to the average of the top 10 states by 2025.

“It’s really something we’ve been saying for all my 25 years on schools boards is that California school districts have not received adequate funding to match the mandates placed on the schools in terms of what they have to provide,” Sturgeon said.

In 2016, CSBA updated its 2007 report titled “Getting Down to Facts” and found that California’s public schools require an additional $22 billion to $40 billion annually, adjusted for inflation, to provide all public school students with access to a high-quality education.

It also found that California funds all schools at roughly $1,961 per student less than the national average and trails the average of the top 10 states by almost $7,000 in per-pupil funding.

With an average daily attendance of 21,459 in 2015-16, the Hart district received $10,505 in per-pupil funding from local, state and federal resources.  During the same school year, the national average for per-pupil funding was $12,252.

“What happens is the money ends up coming out of the general fund and out of the classroom, so we’re using classroom-based funds to fund special programs,” Sturgeon said.  “That can impact something like music and the arts or the library because we can’t eliminate English, math and science so we’re going to look for alternatives… It also technically impacts teacher salaries.”

Layoff, Reemployment Criteria

In the event that employees are considered for layoffs or for reemployment, the district will follow criteria for employees of equal seniority, which is approved by the board each year.

This criteria is used to determine which employees will be retained in the event of a layoff and in the order of reappointment.

“We do it regularly, we have to make adjustments,” Sturgeon said.  “We do that resolution should we need it to take place.  And unless we get full funding we won’t know where we’re at until May.”

The board is expected to approve of this resolution Wednesday.

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