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Martinez schools will ask city for donation

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Friday, May 1st, 2009 at 3:52 pm in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, education.

The funding wheel goes round and round and where she stops, nobody knows.

Here is yet another example of one local agency asking another for money: Martinez schools will ask the Martinez City Council on May 6 for up to $500,000 to keep teachers in the classrooms.

We’ve already heard this week about how the county’s budget cuts might impact its ability to prosecute shoplifters and thieves, and one of the solutions is to let cities pay for their own prosecutors. Counties and cities all over California are laying off hundreds of workers and public services are being cut.

Here’s the staff report from Martinez City Manager Phil Vince:

CITY OF MARTINEZ CITY COUNCIL AGENDA
May 6, 2009


TO: Mayor and City Council

FROM:
Philip Vince, City Manager
SUBJECT:

DATE: Martinez Unified School District’s Request for Financial Support To Reduce the Number of Proposed Teacher Layoffs in FY 2009/10

April 30, 2009

RECOMMENDATION:

Consider and take action on the Martinez Unified School District’s (MUSD) request for funds.

BACKGROUND:

The MUSD approached the City three months ago requesting a one time donation of funding to reduce the layoff of up to 45 employees in 2009. The majority of scheduled layoffs include teachers.

While the MUSD successfully passed a $50 dollar parcel tax in November 2008, an anticipated $500,000 in additional funding will not be available until 2010. The school district request for funding from the City in the amount of $200,000 to $500,000, is intended to be used as a stop gap measure until further resources are available.

Although cities such as San Francisco, Pinole and Richmond have made financial contributions to their respective school districts to lessen the impact of teacher layoffs, the funding source came from Redevelopment dollars. Since Martinez does not have a Redevelopment Agency, the General Fund Reserve would be reduced by the allocation amount.

In the spirit of cooperation the MUSD and the City want to use this forum as an opportunity to share resources that would create more efficiencies for both agencies. A number of cost saving ideas were discussed, including:
• The use of Alhambra High School swimming pool based on availability, while the City closes down the Rankin Park pool site for nine months during construction in 2010;
• reducing the costs associated with renting the Performing Arts Theater located at Alhambra High School by local theater groups;
• realizing significant saving from leasing and purchasing vehicles and equipment together;
• joint use and operation of a Corporation Yard by Martinez Unified School District and the City of Martinez; and
• a use agreement to share use of ball fields while the City is rebuilding a number of parks around the City.


FISCAL IMPACT:

The City of Martinez is also in a precarious financial position with property and sales tax estimates reduced by $525,000 per year the next two fiscal years. If the reduced revenue estimates fall below the projected amounts, the City will to make further cuts to the budget or rely on General Fund reserve funding.

While the City has no additional ongoing operating funds to share, it does have an unrestricted general fund reserve of over 25%. These are one time savings that accumulated over a number of years which are intended for City emergencies and disasters. These unallocated funds can be appropriated at Council’s discretion.

The MUSD has requested a donation ranging from $200,000 to $500,000, which provides Council with a range of options. If the Council agrees to make a formal contribution tonight, staff would like to emphasize the fragile state of the next two year budget and the continuing uncertainty with the State’s budget whose fate is in the hands of the California voters.

ACTION:

Consider and take action.



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  • Arne Simonsen

    Martinez should just say “NO” to the MUSD. MUSD got their parcel tax and City revenues are down and still declining. Oh I can hear the cries now: “But they’re your children too.” MUSD has to just do with its budget just as the City must with its budget. It is time for local special districts (e.g. MUSD) asking other local governments to help fund their organizations.

  • John W

    I’m not a parent, but I do quite a bit of classroom volunteer work at one of the Martinez schools. It’s hardly a bloated, big-spending bureaucracy. Other than teachers and special ed folks, they’ve got a principal, two folks in the office and couple of maintenance people. That’s it. They supplement paper and other supplies with contributions from parents. They have a science classroom but had to dump the science teacher a couple of years ago. Much of the teaching for subjects outside of language arts and math is from guest appearances from arts and science resources in the community Teachers are already being layed off next year to adjust to budget cuts and lower projected enrollment. I’m sure the city is in no position to donate. But the need exists. Today’s neglected kids are tomorrow’s punks and prison guard job security. Pay me now, or pay me later. According to research, 14% of California K-12 students are kids of people who are here illegally, even though the kids themselve may or may not be natural citizens. Because they typically have special needs, they may account for 20% or more of K-12 education costs. That’s a big challenge, but CA is legally obligated to educate the kids, even if they aren’t natural citizens. So, it’s easy to “just say no.” It’s much tougher getting the job done.