I was amazed to read in your article "L.A. Schools Wrestle with Realities of '92 Money Pact" (Feb. 14) that "Nationwide, dozens of states--including California--already equalize funding among school districts." Nothing could be further from the truth.
Here in Orange County, 21 of the 27 school districts are funded at below the statewide average. That means that every year, three-fourths of the school districts in this county slip further behind.
The state Base Revenue Limit is essentially paid per student to each school district. Low wealth schools have been told by our Legislature that they are equalized, but we have trouble understanding that.
Last year in Capistrano Unified, students were shortchanged $50.78, which accrued to a loss of $1,583,625. Try telling us we are equalized! It won't compute in 20 other county school districts either.
Ocean View School District has the dubious distinction of the greatest loss of funds per student--$83.32 annually.
The state can say we are equally funded until they are blue in the face, but that doesn't make it so.
Vice President, Board of Trustees
Capistrano Unified School District
* The county's bankruptcy plan for school districts allowing immediate access to only 77 cents of each dollar on deposit in the county's investment fund will add to severe hardships already faced by the Santa Ana Unified School District and similar school districts. Why should our school employees and students face larger classroom sizes and further cuts in our already strapped programs when there are untapped revenue sources at the county and several tax revenue increases that have not even been considered? It is fundamentally unfair that education is being asked to continue to sacrifice, especially while the county has not pursued these other options.
Investment in our public schools must increase or our generation and future generations will pay the price with underachieving students leading to underemployment, ever-increasing crime and expenditures for police and jails, and increases in remedial education expenses.
The Board of Supervisors has a moral obligation to fully fund education. If the supervisors' only way out of this dilemma is to increase taxes, they should face their responsibility for creating this mess, raise taxes and take the anticipated political heat. If there are other methods of dealing with this problem, such as a state bailout that would not raise our taxes, this should be fully explored. Unfortunately for schools, two months have passed since we learned of this fiscal disaster, and neither option has been given due consideration because of the supervisors' fear of political repercussions. It is time for the supervisors to take the medicine, bitter as it may be, to get those school districts that were required to deposit funds with the county well again.
ROBERT W. BALEN
Santa Ana Unified School District Board
* The citizens of Orange County deserve better from our supervisors than what we are getting. We deserve elected officials who guard the public interest without regard for personal ambition--supervisors who are willing to provide leadership in a crisis, when their actions might not get them reelected but are the right thing to do.
The supervisors publicly support the popular cry of "100% for schools," but unanimously endorsed a plan wherein schools will receive only 77% of their funds (which would cause bankruptcy for many districts). In order to recoup the remaining 23%, schools are expected to assume the role of lending agencies.
Is this the best deal possible for schools--100% perhaps by the time my second-grader is 22 years old? This plan is indifferent to the parents and community members who have been speaking and writing to supervisors pleading for understanding that schools have no savings accounts.
The supervisors refuse to consider a sales tax for a vote of the people because they are threatened with recall from the "no-tax-even-in-a-crisis" minority. The supervisors continue to ignore the significant interest of residents in a limited-term tax.
A sales tax has the potential to return 100% to everyone and return Orange County to a credible and "creditable" standing with lenders. A sales tax is visible countywide and could sunset when the term is up, unlike "user fees" which, once raised, will probably be there forever. Our neighboring counties have comparable or higher sales taxes, and the income over the term would provide stability instead of the chaos of massive layoffs masked as "restructuring."
CATHERINE G. McGOUGH
Huntington Beach City School District