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Group crunches parcel tax numbers

Oversight committee gives its first accountability report on Measure LC.

July 07, 2010|By Andrew Shortall

Measure LC has been in effect for more than a year since being passed on June 30, 2009, when La Cañada residents opted to tax themselves for the better of the public schools.

The measure requires La Cañada residents to pay a parcel tax of $150 annually for five years.

"That says a heck of a lot," said Jack Schaedel, last year's president of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation. "The district is very well run, and La Cañadans know if they don't like the way the city or schools are going, they can vote them out. We all thought we could trust our school board with this money to do the right thing, and they did."

The Parcel Tax Oversight Committee formed in February and consists of nine community members: Kirk Broberg, Glenn Fischel, Sherrill Caronetti, Liping Fan, Jeff Olson, James Andersen, Becky Lankey, Brent Kuszyk and Diana Schulz. The committee's purpose is "to ensure that parcel tax proceeds are expended for their authorized purposes."

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Each year, the committee reports to LCUSD's Governing Board and public regarding where the parcel tax funds were spent.

On June 22, the LCUSD Governing Board accepted the committee's first annual accountability report. The report stated the expenditures from the money generated from the tax were consistent with Measure LC's purpose.

The purpose of the parcel tax as outlined by LCUSD's board is "to offset the impact of uncontrollable cuts in state budget funding for the district and provide the funding needed to sustain the outstanding quality of local public instruction offered in the district's schools by generating a temporary source of local revenue that cannot be taken by the state."

It went on to say the money would be used to keep class sizes to a minimum, maintain curriculum and instruction, support academic programs and services that help students succeed in college and careers and avoid teacher and staff layoffs, while attracting and retaining superior teachers.

The committee reported that as of June 2, $863,509 had been credited to the district's parcel tax revenue account. Revenue from the parcel tax is expected to top out at about $911,700, which comes from 6,078 parcels of $150.

Measure LC's expenditure report states that the $911,700 has gone into supporting 13 programs at the district's elementary and high schools.

A total of $231,400 was spent for class-size reduction in K-3 and ninth-grade classes. The district has also allocated $189,435 to technology support ($44,714 to tech support at all the district sites and $144,721 to elementary computer instruction specialists). The elementary libraries also received $112,494 from the tax's funds.

The funds were also spent on a number of programs, such as: 7/8 music, science 9/12, social science 9/12, art 9/12, foreign language 7-12, Associated Student Body support 9/12 and psychology 9/12 at La Cañada High School. Elementary counselors also benefited from the tax, receiving $56,004.

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