A Rock and a Hard Place
MUSD proposes retiring two MES teaching positions due to budget restrictions
Two Mammoth Elementary School teachers are leaving MES this spring (one retirement, one defection to the Middle School), and the Mammoth Unified School District proposes not to replace them.
Parents are concerned about the anticipated increases in class size. MUSD Superintendent Lois Klein and Chief Business and Financial Officer Brooke Bien say their hands are tied—that the District is currently deficit spending and that there is no way to replace the teachers without digging into General Fund reserves, which are projected to drop to 5.72 percent in 2018-19. Bien told The Sheet on Wednesday, May 31 that MUSD board policy is to keep a 17 percent reserve. Currently, the reserve is at just over 26 percent, said Bien, and is projected to be at about 17 percent next year. By California State law, schools are required to show at least a 3 percent reserve.
MUSD is what’s known as a “Basic Aid” District, according to its 2016-17 Second Interim Report. This means that local property taxes generate more funds per child than the State of California would give to MUSD. However, Bien said on Wednesday that “we are on the verge of falling out of Basic Aid status.”
“The property taxes aren’t increasing [in the District] like the rest of the State of California,” said Klein.
MUSD gets 16 percent of one percent of assessed property value tax paid in the District, said Bien. There is also an additional $59 parcel tax that was passed in 2003 and renewed several times since, which goes directly to the District. Klein says that amount is roughly $650,000 per year for the entire district.
“It’s ridiculously low,” said Greg Newbry, who served on the MUSD School Board for about 10 years.
Natalya Filippova, who spoke at the most recent School Board meeting on Thursday, May 25, said that she paid $165 in total assessments (including parcel tax) in 2015-16. “It is ludicrous. It is $3.30 a week. One latte… if [my] same townhouse stood in Long Beach, I would have contributed twice as much: $314. In Santa Monica: $474.