Do We Really Need $98 Million Bond Measure?

Guest Editorial

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Unlike many parents of SPUSD, I did not move to South Pasadena for the schools.  I moved here in the mid-seventies because I liked the “Mayberry USA” feeling that this town has always had.  In many respects, it is still one of the best places to live in Southern California.

I have been told by some folks in town that when looking at the big budget picture, the items I write about are “peanuts” in comparison to how much the total expenditures are.  But thinking logically, why is it okay that our superintendent costs us approximately $300,000 annually, and the governor of California’s salary is $174,000?  Why is it okay that our after school director costs taxpayers about $133,000 annually, and that he has received over 100% in raises since starting in the position approximately 10 years ago?  In that same time period, you might ask our teachers what kind of raises they have received.  When the board president tells us that they have hired three new elementary school assistant principals (at a cost of approximately $400,000 annually), and justifies it by telling us that it’s “cost effective” because they eliminated four other district positions (that we didn’t need), how naïve do they think we are?  Why is the high school principal on a twelve month work calendar?  Is the additional two month’s salary for getting the school ready for the new year warranted for what should only take about two weeks to accomplish?

In the early nineties, the school board voted themselves health benefits, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars over the ensuing years.  Do board members consider themselves employees of the school district, even though it is a public service position?  They all have outside employment and/or income.

There are many opportunities for this district to conserve expenses.  Every dollar saved on bureaucratic frivolous spending, is a dollar that can be spent directly on our students.

So the question at this time is:  Do we really need the $98 million bond that will be on the November ballot?  It seems we are in a money pit that we can’t dig out of, and the district’s response is always “we need more”.  We were told when the first parcel tax was imposed a few years back that it was a “one time” event for $288/year.  Just a few years later, the district told us they “can’t live without it” and raised it to $388/year, and that if we didn’t vote for the second parcel tax, teacher positions and class sizes would be in jeopardy.  These are district buzz words used to bully parents into voting for the bonds and parcel taxes.

The reality is we don’t need a third 30-year bond (remember, we’re still paying for the first two), or another parcel tax.  There is no transparency with this school district.  There is never a full accounting of expenditures, or district salaries.  For example, has the district ever given SPEF a full accounting of where the unrestricted donated $600,000 was spent?

So before you vote for a third $98 million bond, how about some real transparency from the district.

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