The Palos Verdes Peninsula school board has scheduled a series of public hearings, beginning Monday, to review proposals for imposing a flat property tax and closing two or more additional campuses, including a high school, within 18 months.
In a report released last week, a 50-member citizens committee concluded that such measures are necessary to scale down the 10,000-student district's facilities and operations in line with a 42% loss in enrollment during the past decade and thus overcome deficits that have plagued the school system in recent years.
The report recommends that voters in the elections next March be asked to approve a flat-fee tax of at least $100 for each parcel of land or unit of property defined for tax purposes by the county assessor. Only government and church property would be excluded.
If approved by two-thirds of the voters, the special tax on about 24,000 parcels in Rancho Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills Estates and Rolling Hills--the four cities served by the district--would raise about $2.4 million annually.
The tax would run for at least three years and not more than five. It would help the district avoid a projected $6.1-million deficit over the next five years, according to the committee.
In its current budget of $36.9 million, the district projects a $3-million deficit, which will be eliminated by carry-over funds from the previous year, district spokeswoman Nancy Mahr said.
A public hearing on the tax will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Valmonte District Headquarters, 3801 Via La Selva, Palos Verdes Estates. The board will make its decision on calling a parcel tax vote after another hearing beginning at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at the same location.
The parcel tax was first proposed in January and then withdrawn when trustees concluded that more time and study would be required to convince voters that it was needed.
The proposed school closures, embodied in a five-year master plan, would involve one of the district's three high schools--Rolling Hills, Palos Verdes or Miraleste--at least one elementary campus and one intermediate school.
If the board decides not to close either the Malaga Cove, Dapplegray or Ridgecrest intermediate schools, the committee recommends that one of the three sites be converted to a campus to serve kindergarten through eighth-grade students.
The committee, appointed by the board early this year to develop a five-year plan and come up with some solutions to the financial problems, estimated that all of the recommended closures could save about $1.5 million a year.
Other measures that could help put the district on a firm financial footing, the committee said, include more leasing of closed school sites, selling more district property and more efficient management of assets.
The committee report, available at local libraries and at district offices, makes no recommendations on which schools should be shut down. However, it suggests that a "program of communication with the community" will be needed to minimize the kind of bitter feelings that have been aroused by past school closures.
Five elementary campuses and Margate Intermediate School have been closed, leaving the three high schools, three intermediates and six elementary schools in the system.
The schedule of public hearings on the proposed master plan:
Oct. 16, 7 p.m., Miraleste High School Theater Arts Building, Rancho Palos Verdes; Oct. 22, 7 p.m., Rolling Hills High School Performing Arts Center in Rolling Hills Estates; and Oct. 28, 7 p.m., Palos Verdes High School multipurpose room in Palos Verdes Estates.
On Nov. 3, the board will accept limited public comment as it discusses the master plan at a 7:30 p.m. meeting at the district headquarters. It is scheduled to adopt a final version of the plan at a Nov. 17 session at the same time and location.