The parcel tax subcommittee will have a series of efforts to outreach to the community between now and a mid May to early June vote on putting the parcel tax on the ballot for November 2020 – although having a March 2020 vote is still a possibility.
Joe DiNunzio put on the table eight critical questions he would like to see answered as part of the discussion. He wants to know what spending categories are out of sync for the district with other benchmark district and to understand why the district is spending differently than other comparaible districts.
He wants to understand what the opportunities are for restructuring the spending – if that is a course they want to take. Mr. DiNunzio continued to point out that at the end of the day – he wants to put out options even though they may well decide to reject them and go forward with a revenue measure.
He further wants to understand what revenue categories are out of sync with other benchmark districts and understand why that is the case. Once again he would like to explore possibilities for restructuring the revenue.
On teacher salary he wants to understand what the delta looks like between Davis and other regional districts? How much additional spending is it going to take to take it to the regional average? Above average?
Finally he said, he would like to explore several potential ways to get us there. The first would be an increase in class size. The second would be a cut in teachers and program. Finally they could look at ways to save and then revenue enhancements.
Once again, he argued he does not foresee supporting cuts to programs or class sizes but he wants to understand – and by extension – the community to understand the economic programmatic tradeoffs.
Mr. DiNunzio explained that Alan (Fernandes) is eager to keep our feet the fire, and said he supports Alan’s push and wants to aggressively get to a vote by the middle to end of May.
Alan Fernandes noted that one of his goals is to forecast out further. He would really like this to be seen as a permanent solution and wants to push the parcel tax at least to ten years.
He wants to see a better job of communication by the district as to why we might be losing ground on LCFF and explain what the percentage difference is between DJUSD and other districts.
“We believe based on the LCFF that we will lose ground,” he said. But wants it better explained as to why.
He further wants to give examples of ways in which other districts have reduced their costs and discussed a consultant he met with who has been able to do things like restructuring electricity tariff rates and waste contracts to save other districts save about $100,000.
The subcommittee discussed outreach to the city through both making public comments as well as the February 20 City-DJUSD two-by-two meeting.
For Joe DiNunzio a keep point is, “I don’t think the community fully appreciates the programmatic decisions we make” or the trade offs they will have to make. He said, “We make decisions to offer things that other districts don’t.”
There was general discussion of the LCFF model which the district has no control over and disadvantages the district over other districts. While at the same time, they acknowledge that they don’t gain traction by arguing that the district is disadvantaged here because the district clearly has advantages over other districts in providing services.
Key points that were made again is that, “The state is not coming in on a white horse riding to our rescue.” The acknowledgement here is that the district will have to find local solutions.
Alan Fernandes said, “We had homework to do, we did our homework.”
He added, “This isn’t just a short-term problem, we have to figure out a longer term solution.”
Joe DiNunzio agreed with his colleague, “We need to talk about a permanent solution.”
At the same time, forecasting school funding and anticipating inflation long-term as well as state budget fluctuations will make this sort of challenge – tricky at best.
—David M. Greenwald reporting