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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Laguna Beach Schools Aren't Flush With Cash

May 18, 2003

Re "Unlikely Allies May Lose School Funds," April 19:

It is a misrepresentation to characterize basic-aid districts as having surplus money and a financial advantage over other school districts. Never have we in Laguna Beach felt as if our schools had excess funding. In fact, many of us spend a great deal of effort raising funds for the district to pay for field trips, athletic programs, music, art and drama programs and instructional aides.

It's ridiculous to suggest that these same community donors have the "wherewithal" to supplement the proposed annual school budget cuts of $6 million to pay for our principals, our assistant principals, 43 of our 127 classroom teachers, our only school nurse and all of our counselors and psychologists.

When our schools of 40-plus years of age needed to be restored and modernized, the state did not offer us additional funding. Our community passed a bond measure that provided the funds. The bond proceeds are paying for Thurston Middle School's new gym and performing arts center, not the general fund as implied in your article.

In Laguna Beach our property taxes exceed the revenue limit established by the state and therefore the state does not have to provide us additional state dollars. Most other districts also receive categorical funding, which greatly increases their resources. Laguna Beach does not qualify for most of these types of funding. The average funding for the six K-12 school districts in California with 2,600 students is $7,500. Of these districts, only Laguna Beach is a basic-aid district and therefore the only one that would be wiped out by the governor's proposal.

Beth McCombs

Laguna Beach

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