Dennis P Walsh

Dennis P Walsh SVUSD School Board - 2018

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What issues do we face in our district?


Where does the district get most of its educational funding?

  • NOT the lottery

  • NOT your property taxes

  • Primarily from the State

  • Some Funds provided by the Federal Government


  • State Funding. Governor Brown has stated that CA K-12 schools have been fully funded a year earlier than planned. What the Governor doesn’t say is what his definition is of full funding. Full funding is getting our schools back to the level of funding we had in 2008, before the big cuts we received from the state. That means in 2018, we have now reached the level of funding we had 10 years ago! We need more funding from the state! We must continue to advocate at every level, local, state, and federal.

  • Federal Funding. We do receive some funding from the Federal Government, but most of those funds are used for Special Education. That doesn't coverall of our special education costs. In 1975 the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, PL 94-142, (renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1990) became law in the U.S., and it declared that handicapped children could not be excluded from public school because of their disability, and that school districts were required to provide special services to meet the needs of handicapped children. The law also required that handicapped children be taught in a setting that resembles as closely as possible the regular school program, while also meeting their special needs. The law stated that states would be given a grant (starting at 5% a year in 1978, and increasing to 40% a year in 1982 and for all fiscal years thereafter), of the average per pupil expenditure in public elementary schools and secondary schools in the United States. To date the they have never provided more than 15%.  This represents hundreds of millions of dollars that have been lost to us in SVUSD. This is just one of the many underfunded, or unfunded mandates our district faces.

  • State Funding Allocation. We receive funding from the state under the Local Control Funding Formula. If you are in a wealthy area, it is likely that local property taxes are more than enough to coves the basic grant money each school district receives. If that is true, then they keep the extra money. This means that schools in wealthy areas have more money to spend per student. If you live in a low income area, or an area with many English Language Learners, you receive more money because more resources are required to educate students in these classifications. That means if you live in a poor area, you receive more money. That means if you live in nice Saddleback Valley, where we are overall not the richest, and not the poorest, we receive the least amount of money. As you can expect, this is very challenging for our school district. (See attracting and maintaining the best employees below)

  • State Mandates. Our Legislators in Sacramento continue to create laws that require us to do new things, without any additional funding. A good example is retirement funding. We receive an increase in revenue from the prior year, and at the same time the contributions we have to make to STRS and PERS goes up. The state goes on about how we have received more money, but yet, they have increased our costs more than they have increased our revenues. Overall, we end up being behind.

  • Property Taxes.  These are a part of our funding, but they aren't enough.  Back in the 70's local school districts would put a budget together, and that would be used to calculate part of the property tax rate.  For this and many other reasons, the property tax rates were getting to the point where many people could no longer afford to live in their homes.  Proposition 13 changed that, and set the base rate at 1%.  The result of this was that property taxes went down dramatically.  The unintended consequence was that now there wasn't enough money for local school districts to run their schools.  The state decided to collect all the property tax money and provide additional money to fund all the schools in California. There wasn't enough money to equal the level of funding schools had been receiving in the past, and California began their slip from first toward worse. 

  • Lottery. Schools in California currently receive 50% of Lottery revenues.  Although the Lottery was advertised as solving the education funding problem in California, it is less that 2% of our budget.  It does help, but it was no cure.

  • Proposition 30. This was passed in 2012 and raised the sales tax by .25% for four years and increased the taxes for those with a high level of income. The money would go to help education.  the Educational community supported this, and the money did go toward education.  What people weren't told was that Sacramento was planning to cut funding for education, and so when it passed, the money went to us, but it did not increase our funding because other funding was cut.  In the end, we were just where we were before, but we could have been cut, so it was helpful. The sales tax actually did expire after four years, although there was an attempt to make it permanent.


Where does most of the funding go?

  • Salaries and Benefits. These two expenses are a part of total compensation. Total compensation makes up over 85% of our budget. Employee benefits continue to rise every year. We are bound by our contracts with our bargains units to charge a set amount for health insurance, based on the plan each employee have selected. The school district must make up the difference. This number is quite large. Employees want , and expect raises every year. The school district does not receive very much additional ongoing money each year, so we must balance that money between increasing benefit costs, increase utility and maintenance costs, and raises. That is why raises are low. After taking into consideration all of the costs we know are increasing, we can only offer what is left as raises.

  • Utilities, Facility Maintenance, Supplies, Etc. The remaining 15% of our funding goes toward keeping the lights on.  About 2/3rds of that represents fixed costs we have to cover.  That leaves the District with discretionary dollars of only about 5% of our budget.

  • Safety. Although our main objective is education, we are also responsible for keeping our children and employees safe. Sadly, as a result of the potential for violence experienced at other school throughout the country, safety has risen in priority in terms of the funding required for its achievement. The district spends a significant amount of money every year to maintain, and improve the safety of our students and employees. We have to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves against evil. Although I'm not at liberty to publish the steps we are taking in this area, rest assured safety is and will remain a top priority in the district.

What other issues impact our district?

  • Attracting and retaining the best employees. The best education possible. In order to do that, you need the best teachers, the best support staff, and their best administrators. SVUSD is a great school district that many people want to come to, for many reasons. But, we have to face the fact that many other schools districts receive more money than we do, and offer higher salaries. I would say the majority of the employees we have lost to other districts is because of money. You cant fault people for wanting to earn more money. Overall though, each year we have more employees come to our school district than we have lost to other school districts.

  • Class sizes. Everyone wants small class sizes. Many other states have much smaller class sizes than we do. It comes down to money. If we reduce our class sizes, we will have to hire more teachers. We will not receive more money for more teachers, since we will have the same number of total students. In CA we receive less funding than the average of the 50 states. At one point we spent the most. Like many things, it come down to money, money that we do not have.


Paid by Committee to Reelect Dennis P Walsh to SVUSD School Board 2018 - FPPC #1371732

25422 Trabuco Rd., Ste. 105A1, Lake Forest, CA 92630

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Last modified: 10/08/18