LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Following voters’ defeat of a tax measure designed to raise millions of dollars for Los Angeles schools, district officials and Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed to continue fighting for more education funding while calling on those who opposed the measure to join the battle.
“Life has taught me the value of persistence,” Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner said Wednesday, June 5. “When you get knocked down, you get back up and you keep moving forward.”
Beutner insisted the district made the right decision by taking Measure EE to voters in a special election on Tuesday instead of waiting for a likely higher-turnout regional or statewide ballot. Beutner also insisted that despite the defeat of the parcel tax proposal — which officials said would have raised $500 million a year for 12 years -- the district will find a way to meet its financial obligations over the next three years.
“We'll continue to reduce the bureaucracy and make sure every nickel of the taxpayers' (money) goes to schools,” he said. “We’re going to ask to those in Sacramento to make it possible to raise money to hire a teacher in the same way we can build a school. We're going to continue to work with the governor and the Legislature for additional funding for our schools, and we'll continue to inform the communities we serve about the need for additional funding. Now what's next? It's time to take the fight to Sacramento.”
It was unclear if the district might consider another ballot measure in the next two years.
Measure EE was seen as a critical funding tool for a district that has been on notice from the county Office of Education about its dicey financial picture — exacerbated by a new contract reached with the teachers’ union that called for reductions in class size, increased salaries and hiring of nurses, counselors and librarians.
Debra Duardo, superintendent of the county Office of Education, issued a statement Wednesday expressing disappointment at Measure EE's defeat and continuing to voice concern about LAUSD's “distressed financial condition.”
“While progress has been made and actions have been taken to improve the district’s fiscal condition, the county Office of Education remains concerned with the continued use of one-time funding to cover ongoing expenditures,” she said. “Put simply, LAUSD needs to stop spending more than it receives from the state and federal government, which it does every year.”
Garcetti, who campaigned heavily in favor of Measure EE, got choked up Wednesday as he discussed the need for additional education funding, saying many societal woes can be traced to shortcomings in the classroom.
“When they say what are we going to do to end homelessness, I say homelessness starts in a classroom,” Garcetti said, pausing his remarks to regain his composure. "... When you complain there’s too many people in prison, where does that begin? It begins when we fail a child in the classroom.
“When we’re worried about the safety on our streets, that starts when we fail to fund our children.”