As the November ballot initiatives approach, Glendale Unified school board members this week said they are torn over Proposition 38 — one of two competing tax measures supporting education funding — because it would leave out cash-strapped community colleges.
The money raised in Prop. 38 could be used only for schools, early childhood education and reducing government debt, and is trailing far behind in the polls. The other tax initiative, Proposition 30 — pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown — would temporarily raise income tax rates on high earners for seven years and boost the state sales tax by a quarter-cent for four years to raise money for a broader range of education programs.
School board President Christine Walters said the rival propositions left schools “in a hostage situation.”
“We really are in survival mode,” she said at the board meeting on Tuesday. “I’m leaning more toward the practicality, and will therefore hedge my bet by voting for both.”
Supporters of Prop. 30 say its passage is key in preventing $6 billion in cuts to K-12 and higher education statewide. If it fails, Glendale school officials say they will need to cut $10 million from their budget midyear in addition to $10 million they plan to cut in 2013-14.
“Anything we can do to help Prop. 30 pass, I would want us to do what we can,” said Glendale Unified school board member Nayiri Nahabedian on Tuesday.
While the majority of school board members said they will likely vote for both propositions, they cited misgivings over Prop. 38 for not setting aside money for community colleges, which have been forced to reduce course offerings amid state funding cuts and increased demand among graduating high school seniors.
School board member Mary Boger said she would vote for Prop. 30 at the polls, but is undecided on Prop. 38.
“I’m so disappointed that the California PTA supported Prop. 38 and neglected our community colleges. Our community colleges are struggling as much as or even more than our K-12 districts are,” she said.
Although she is likely to vote for Prop. 38, Nahabedian said she was concerned about the calls she’s received from former Glendale Unified students unable to sign up for classes at Glendale Community College.
“For practical reasons, I’m open to supporting Prop. 38 as well,” she said.
School board member Joylene Wagner said “neither of them is that fix, but each of them in their ways tries to keep us from drowning next year.”
School board member Greg Krikorian cited his concern over Prop. 38 leaving out community colleges, adding that his son, who is studying at Glendale Community College, has faced difficulty in getting into classes.
“It’s taking three to four years to finish taking a simple two-year degree. It’s frustrating our kids,” he said.
The school board will take an official stance on both propositions at an upcoming board meeting.
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan