Citizens Oversight Panel Gives Its OK To Measure S Funds

The semi-annual Measure S Citizens’ Oversight Committee meeting approved the South Pasadena Unified School District’s use of Measure S parcel tax funds within the district in a 5-0 vote at the district office board room on Oct. 3, according to officials.

The funds supplement state educational funding, which many consider to be insufficient, for programs, teachers and maintaining small class sizes.

“The committee is very mindful of the rising costs and the need for continued public investment in education,” Committee Chair Lindsey Angelats told the Review.

The funds can only be applied for purposes of preserving and maintaining quality education and academic programs, retaining teachers, providing small class sizes, funding district library, media, visual and performing arts programs, and reducing layoffs of teachers, teacher aides, librarians, counselors and other district personnel, according to the SPUSD website.

The district received $2,344,444 in Measure S funds for the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to SPUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Dave Lubs, who assists in preparing the numbers for the meeting alongside Director of Fiscal Services Dana Smith. Angelats reported that the district’s spending lined up with the measure and “nothing unusual occurred” at the meeting.

The committee, which is comprised of local educators and volunteers, meets twice a year in May and September (this month’s meeting was in October due to not having a quorum in September). The May meeting is to review the budget before it goes for approval and the September meeting is to review the actual expenditures and ensure they match up against the parcel tax language, according to Lubs.

“What we know of course is that there is a continued need to support the school district given that, one, the need that exceeds the funds we all receive from the state, and two, continue to support what the citizens passed in the original spirit of Measure S,” said Angelats.

“It’s a really precious gift when taxpayers give their trust and their resources to support public institutions. In the case of South Pasadena, it’s a community of people, regardless if they have children or not, that continue to express their commitment for not just for a traditional education but a high-quality one. Part of being a good steward for that continued gift is to make sure there is some oversight and accountability.”

Measure S was approved in 2009 by voters within the South Pasadena Unified School District boundary by 67.6 percent. The measure authorized the district to levy a special parcel tax on parcels within district boundaries. In February 2018, voters approved a seven-year extension through the 2024-25 year. The purpose of the tax is to augment the funds provided by the state for education that are considered by many to be less-than-sufficient, and to ensure a high quality of education in the city.

The first year of the 2018 parcel tax was levied at $386 per parcel for all parcels and has an annual 3 percent inflator built in. Under the measure, there is no distinction between commercial, industrial, residential, developed or undeveloped property. The measure also allows for a senior-citizen exemption under certain conditions.

Details of the Measure S funding and expenditures will be presented at the Oct. 15 SPUSD Board of Education meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the district office at 1020 El Centro St.