By Zachary Hertz, HUB Correspondent–
Voters face a big choice this November: increase the sales tax or allow millions of dollars in cuts to school districts. Proposition 30 aims to fill the state budget with new taxes, including a higher income tax on the rich.
Proposition 30 raises sales tax to 7.5% if approved. If it fails, it would trigger about $3.7 million dollars in budget cuts to the Davis Joint Unified School District.
Any funding from Proposition 30 is tied to the state budget, according to school board member Richard Harris. He also said that legislators assumed that the proposition would pass.
The 2012-2013 budget for DJUSD included projected funding from Proposition 30. “The Prop 30 funding is 5.3% of the budget,” said Bruce Colby, associate superintendent of business services. This funding is lost if the measure fails.
“Cuts will happen to this district if Prop 30 fails. [They] will be automatic, and they will be immediate,” Harris said.
The district is prepared for the possibility of cuts. Measure E, a local parcel tax also on the Nov. 6 ballot, will cover the funding shortfall in the 2013-2014 academic year if it passes, according to Colby.
Because cuts from Proposition 30 would be immediate, the district must come up with a plan if the measure fails. “We’ll have to make up a $3.7 million deficit, which means we’re going have to take 10 days off this school year,” Harris said
Furlough days would have a big impact, according to Davis High social studies teacher Fern O’Brien. Teachers would struggle to cover the same material, and have to cut much of the lesson.
Class sizes are a concern this year, and if Proposition 30 fails, class sizes will increase even more.
“You have less teachers and you have the same amount of kids, so what happens? You have larger class sizes,” Harris said.
Many dislike the increase in class sizes. “That’s the most effective way to teach, when you have smaller class sizes,” O’Brien said. “The more students you have, the less individual attention you can give the students.”
Davis High sophomore Claudia Shebloski agreed. “It’s harder to connect with teachers,” Shebloski said. She said that class sizes make it harder to participate in class, and “if there’s 30 hands raised, you don’t really get called on.”
O’Brien also said that class sizes affect what assignments are given. “If you’re an AP Government teacher and you have 40 or 44 students in each class and you want to assign an essay, how do you possibly grade all those essays?”
“The caliber of what you could be teaching is going to go down,” O’Brien said. “The students don’t really get the best teaching that way.”
Others are not bothered by class sizes, however. Sophomore Skyler Blume said, “I’m fine with it.”
Colby stresses that even if it passes, Proposition 30 “maintains our current funding level from last year and our current staffing levels.” Because of this, class sizes will not be improve if Proposition 30 passes, but will remain at the current levels.