Monday Morning Thoughts: Excluding Out-of-District Transfers Won’t Save You from the Parcel Tax Increase

Share:

All weekend I kept getting messages from people not wanting to pay for a parcel tax increase, arguing that we need to “right size” the school district or eliminate out-of-district transfers.  I get that people don’t want their taxes to go up, but eliminating out-of-district transfers isn’t going to save them here – it will actually make it worse.

Ironically, Associate Superintendent Matt Best put forward getting more students from outside of the district as a revenue providing solution.  The idea would be to grow enrollment which would add ADA (average daily attendance).  The trick is to do so without having to add teachers or facilities.

Matt Best explained to the board: each out-of-district student added to the district contributes about $9000 to DJUSD revenue.  He argued, “An additional 120 students would not change the basic structure of the school district, with a net revenue increase of approximately $1.0 Million.”

When asked by Cindy Pickett, what’s our ability to get 120 more students in the district, Matt Best said that he believes this would be a realistic number that they could get to.

“I think 120 is probably reasonable,” he said.

But you can’t seem to convince people that this is the case.  The argument goes that adding students from outside of the district might increase ADA – but the district doesn’t get the parcel tax attached to the students.

The big problem here is that there is no parcel tax attached to the students.  Parcel tax money is attached to parcels and comes to the district whether or not the parcel has students living in it.

This seems to be a very difficult concept for people to grasp.

Perhaps the best way to think about it is to state that no student added to the school district will lead to more than $9000 being added to the district coffers.

Perhaps a quick illustration of this phenomenon is in order.

Currently, every parcel in the district pays $620 per year to the parcel tax.  That money is based strictly on the number of parcels.  Senior residents can opt out.  Apartments are charged as though they were one parcel, whether there is one apartment or 500 apartments in it.

There are a ton of scenarios, therefore, by which people with children in the district do not pay for the parcel tax – those include those who reside in apartments, those in subsidized housing, etc.  That is a sizable percentage of DJUSD students right there.

But imagine these scenarios:

  • Family with kids moves into single family home – all of a sudden there is a student in that, whereas before there was not – the district gets no additional parcel tax money
  • Family without kids has a child – all of a sudden there is a student in that, whereas before there was not – the district gets no additional parcel tax money
  • Family with one kid has a second child – all of a sudden there is a student in that, whereas before there was not – the district gets no additional parcel tax money

The point here is that the district receives the same amount for that house in parcel tax, whether there is zero, one, or two or more kids living in the home.

So why is the person from outside of Davis being singled out here, when in fact many people who send their kids to school do so without adding to the district’s parcel tax take – either because they are not paying any parcel tax or because they have simply moved into a house that had no kids previously but was paying the parcel tax regardless.

Yet there is the belief that a sizable number of people from outside of the area are using our facilities without paying.  That’s not exactly true.  They are paying their property taxes, which through ADA get diverted to DJUSD.

They are not paying the parcel tax, but that’s also true of renters.  Someone countered that renters get their parcel tax passed through their rent.  That might be true if they rent a house – hard to know precisely – but if they rent an apartment, it’s unlikely that they are paying anything because most apartment complexes are only paying $620 per year for a parcel tax.  Break that down by unit and by month and for any complex over 50, the cost is less than $1 per month per unit.

The net impact of out-of-district students is a positive not a negative.

Here’s the math…

When I walked through the numbers last year with Matt Best, the district calculates it gets about $5.6 million from the out-of-district transfers.  Removing about 25 sections from the district would save $1.6 million.  That means that the district believes it nets about $4 million from out of district transfers – and that is another reason why they propose one revenue strategy is to add rather than subtract transfer students.

Bottom line here – the parcel tax argument doesn’t make any sense.

There are viable arguments here against taking out-of-district transfers and reducing the size of the district, but this is not a road toward closing what is believed to be about a $2.8 to $3.2 million gap for the district.

Removing out-of-district transfers is not going to close that gap.  In fact, from all of the data I have gleaned, it will make the gap worse.  You may still want to look at doing, that but not as a solution to the teacher funding gap.

I know people believe we are disadvantaged because out-of-district transfers do not add parcel tax money – but that’s not how the parcel tax works.  No student added creates parcel tax money.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$USD
Sign up for

Share:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

113 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts: Excluding Out-of-District Transfers Won’t Save You from the Parcel Tax Increase”

  1. Don Shor

    When asked by Cindy Pickett, what’s our ability to get 120 more students in the district, Matt Best said that he believes this would be a realistic number that they could get to.

    “I think 120 is probably reasonable,” he said.

    Should be no problem. They’re about to approve 1,168 new homes on the southwest edge of Dixon. With an average home price in Dixon presently 36% below Davis, it’s likely a lot of those will be bought by younger families. Average home price in Woodland is presently 43% lower than Davis.

    The parcel taxes allow Davis schools to maintain the added programs that help to give DJUSD its reputation.

    1. Bill Marshall

      … that help to give DJUSD its reputation

      True words… but reality is different from reputation… Davis schools are “good”, but NOT “legendary”… except in their own minds… hype that is useful to educators, particularly upper echelon administrators, and realtors…

      DJUSD has warts, some of which grow hairs (and some may be pre-cancerous)… best if the community realize that DJUSD folk don’t walk on water…unless it’s frozen and several inches thick…

      We should, as a community, build on the strengths of the district, and work on eliminating lesions, but “lionization” doesn’t help with that… it tends to blind folk to the work needed…

  2. Jim Hoch

    David you are math challenged. First Mr. Best proves the trueism that school administrators will recommend whatever option is best for school administrators. Enlarging the district is best for central administrators and that is the option they will promote.

    There is no possible way to know what the revenue impact of transfers are unless you know what the cost of those transfers are. DJU has a reputation for providing outstanding services to students with IEPs. As a consequence it seems to many observers in the district that transfers have a disproportionate number of IEPs. These students are much more expensive to educate and often require hiring a paraeducator while DJU does not receive additional funds from the home district. Other districts have an incentive to advise parents of expensive-to-educate students to transfer their children to DJU. Having large numbers of kids who are being “mainstreamed” is not in the best interests of the other children.

    As far as your sophistic math on the parcel tax all I can say is that’s right up there with your claim that adding adding 3,000,000 people to the population of California does not increase prices. Anyone dumb to buy that math deserves what they get. 

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “There is no possible way to know what the revenue impact of transfers are unless you know what the cost of those transfers are.”

      Why do you think they don’t know what the cost of a teacher/ classroom is?

        1. Jim Hoch

          If you can’t tell me how many transfers have paraeducators and how many are at King then there is no way to determine how much they cost.

          There is no basis for assuming that transfers have the same cost basis as local students and I can tell you that many if not most of the people who work in the district believe we are spending a lot more money on transfers than local students.

          Increasing the number and percentage of high cost students will not save money.

          1. Don Shor

            There is no basis for assuming that transfers have the same cost basis as local students

            And there is no basis for assuming that they don’t.

            I can tell you that many if not most of the people who work in the district believe

            That isn’t evidence.

        2. Jim Hoch

          “That isn’t evidence.”

          I’m all in favor of finding out. Good luck with that though as it leads back to my truism “school administrators will recommend whatever option is best for school administrators” and they will do anything to prevent other people from seeing actual data.

        3. Hiram Jackson

          Jim Hoch:  “Can you tell me how many transfers have paraeducators?”

          That can probably be answered if you will submit a PRA (Public Request Act) application.

          Jim Hoch:  “If you can’t tell me…how many are at King…”

          You could probably pick up the phone and call King HS and ask for the most current count.  That’s the kind of info that site staff would probably readily know.

          Or you can look it up at the state database here.

        4. Hiram Jackson

          Jim Hoch:  I thought you were asking how many total students were at King.  I have no idea how many are transfer vs. resident students, but you could probably get that info from a PRA request.

        5. Jim Hoch

          Hiram, my back of the envelope estimate is that a seat at King costs 5X-10X what a seat at DSH costs. Understanding the services used is key to costing.

        6. Hiram Jackson

          “my back of the envelope estimate is that a seat at King costs 5X-10X what a seat at DSH costs.”

          If students are “Unduplicated” (meaning an English Language Learner, on free/reduced lunch (a proxy for family income level), and/or a foster youth) they bring more money from the state.  I am certain that as a percentage, there are more Unduplicated students at King HS than DHS, and probably also DSIS or Da Vinci.

    2. Alan Miller

      up there with your claim that adding adding 3,000,000 people to the population of California does not increase prices.

      And adding people to Davis won’t increase traffic.

    3. Hiram Jackson

      Jim Hoch: “Other districts have an incentive to advise parents of expensive-to-educate students to transfer their children to DJU. Having large numbers of kids who are being “mainstreamed” is not in the best interests of the other children.”

      On dataquest, I looked up all the Yolo County school districts, the Yolo County Office of Education, Dixon, and Sacramento City Unified to see what percentage of their students are identified as ‘Special ed.’  The percents that I got were:

      Davis JUSD (12.0%)

      Woodland (13.7%)

      Esparto (13.0%)

      Winters (13.3%)

      Washington Unified/West Sacramento (10.8%)

      Dixon (11.2%)

      Sacramento City Unified (13.8%)

      Yolo County Office of Education (32.8%)

      These numbers were for students served by that district.  There is also a number that indicates students residing in that district.  All the regular school districts except Yolo COE had more special ed students residing in their district than were being served.  I suspect that the students not being served by their resident school district were probably being served by the county schools.  So all districts are “off-loading” some of their resident special ed students elsewhere.  As far as percentage of students who are identified as special ed, Davis JUSD doesn’t appear to be taking on any extraordinary number as you suggest.

      Personally knowing some students who are served by IEPs and who have para-educators, I don’t have a problem with this, even if somehow less money is coming to my kids, the way you seem to.  It is challenging work to educate special ed students, and if such students can achieve even some modest semblance of “normalcy” in adult life, then I think we are all better off.  The prison and homeless populations, as well as those with serious mental health issues, are over-represented by individuals who could have qualified for special ed type services.  I don’t know if better K-12 services would have made a difference or not, but I think it’s worth trying.

      1. Jim Hoch

        “I don’t have a problem with this, even if somehow less money is coming to my kids, the way you seem to.”

        This is one of those “agree to disagree” moments. School districts get X dollars and need to divide that up among competing educational priorities. People who agree that their children are less important than other children will get less. There is no “somehow” about it.

        1. David Greenwald

          The whole purpose of LCFF is that districts with more at risk kids get more money for those kids.  So yes, they divide up the money among competing educational priorities, but the way that money comes in is not even to begin with precisely because some kids have greater needs than others.

        2. Jim Hoch

          Where you invest money defines your principles. The principle here is that kids in LA are 50% more important than kids in Davis.

          Within Davis, kids who don’t like to go to school (King) are at least five times as important as kids who do go to school (DSH)

          You can dance around it all you want but those are the facts.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Actually to be more accurate, that is your interpretation of some of the facts that you’ve described.

      2. Ron Glick

        “All the regular school districts except Yolo COE had more special ed students residing in their district than were being served.”

        Also, I think it was two years ago, DJUSD renegotiated its Special Ed payments to the Yolo County Office Of Education saving the district about $1,000,000 per year.

  3. Wesley Sagewalker

    Someone countered that renters get their parcel tax passed through their rent.  That might be true if they rent a house – hard to know precisely – but if they rent an apartment, it’s unlikely that they are paying anything because most apartment complexes are only paying $620 per year for a parcel tax.  Break that down by unit and by month and for any complex over 50, the cost is less than $1 per month per unit.

    This was surprising to me to hear. This seems like a very distortionary policy whereby homeowners are subsidizing apartment owners. What is the logic behind charging the same parcel tax for apartments compared to houses? Wouldn’t a per-unit tax (maybe with some differentiation between houses and apartment units to encourage density) be a much fairer allocation of the costs associated with the school district funding? Does anyone understand why this isn’t an option being explored since broadening the tax base could potentially bring in substantial revenues?

    1. Bill Marshall

      This seems like a very distortionary policy whereby homeowners are subsidizing apartment owners. [or, more accurately, apartment dwellers]

      What is the logic behind charging the same parcel tax for apartments compared to houses? Wouldn’t a per-unit tax (maybe with some differentiation between houses and apartment units to encourage density) be a much fairer allocation of the costs associated with the school district funding? Does anyone understand why this isn’t an option being explored since broadening the tax base could potentially bring in substantial revenues?

      No “logic” in play, except dealing with the law as it is, and what it takes to enact a parcel tax at the polls…  Prop 13 (and its “spinoffs) had/has a lot to do with the current situation.

      Law and statutes, quite often, have little to do with logic… easily demonstrable examples… including legislation “in the wings”… pick your topic…

      1. Jim Hoch

        Prop 13 has little to do with it. The current situation is driven by Serrano v. Priest which removed school funding from local municipalities in the name of “equity”. State government does not care about k12 funding and has continually chosen to put money into other programs. Teacher strikes would be highly effective in pressuring local government but are useless in changing the amount of money allotted to K12

        1. Bill Marshall

          You are incorrect, in large extent… Serrano/Priest is indeed a part of it… an important part… but to deny that Prop 13 (and its spinoffs) has a ‘big part’ of it… well, I posit you are ‘in denial

          I affirm your posit re: Serrano/Priest is a significant contributing factor.

          As I recall, that decision was based on an egregious misapplication of the intent of the laws (a response to an egregious fault).

          The problem was compounded, big time, by Prop 13 (spinoffs, and other legislation), but if you mean it is a “constellation” of ‘stupids’, I will readily agree…

        2. Jim Hoch

          “The Serrano II decision also held that the legislative response to Serrano I was insufficient, and affirmed the trial court’s order requiring that wealth-based funding disparities between district be reduced to less than $100 by 1980.”

          The LCFF seems to violate this provision. Maybe DJU should sue.

  4. Ron Oertel

    In reference to the title, there in one thing that will “save you from the parcel tax increase” (assuming that you’re not already excused from paying it):

    Voters may reject it.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Voters may reject it.

      Correct.  And we all know how you’ll vote, however structured…

      [Moderator: please stop making these kinds of comments.]

  5. Ron Oertel

    Encouraging inter-district transfers is neither fiscally nor environmentally prudent.

    It also likely stunts efforts to fund and improve schools where they’re actually needed.  Perhaps someone can (logically) explain why Davis is in the business of providing K-12 education for other communities.

    (Not to mention the numerous/other exemptions for paying school district parcel taxes – for those who own Affordable housing, seniors, etc.)

  6. Mark West

    “The net impact of out-of-district students is a positive not a negative.”

    At the very basic level, if you take the total cost of operating the District and divide by the total number of students you have the average cost per student (assuming the budget is balanced and there are no hidden unfunded obligations). If the ADA the District receives for each student is greater than the average cost per student, then there would be no need for the parcel taxes. That is obviously not the case as we need the parcel taxes to cover the difference. Since the ADA is not sufficient to cover our average student cost, adding additional outside students and their ADA makes the budget problem worse because the new revenues do not cover the additional costs. The end result is that property owners in Davis are subsidizing the cost of educating out of District students.

    The only way that the District’s position makes any sense is if we expect the City to start growing sufficiently to eventually fill the current school sites with Davis children. Since that is unlikely to happen in our lifetimes, the smarter move would be to start phasing out the transfers and ‘right size’ the District, starting with slashing the costs of District Administration.

    1. Ron Oertel

      “If the ADA the District receives for each student is greater than the average cost per student, then there would be no need for the parcel taxes. That is obviously not the case as we need the parcel taxes to cover the difference.”

      That is a very good, easy-to-understand explanation.

    2. Dave Hart

      But what if the per student cost is less than $9,000?  Then each additional transfer student would be a net income for the district.  The interdistrict transfer amount may be higher or lower than the per student cost.  Until you know that, you don’t know what the impact is.  For instance, if our total per student cost is say, $8,500 including parcel tax expenditures and we get $9,000 for transfer students, we’d be ahead $500.

      1. Bill Marshall

        If the per student cost is less, DJUSD should not be keeping it… it isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a for-profit entity… ‘reserves’ (cushion as to ‘stuff happening’) is one thing… ‘profit’ is quite another… at least philosophically, by law, and ethically.

  7. Ron Oertel

    Unless you are a fan of Greenwaldian “Alternative Math”.

    That’s probably the first school program I’d suggest eliminating. 😉

  8. Dave Hart

    To promote basic understanding, can anyone provide a pie-chart sort of summary of funding sources for DJUSD?  Something like x% parcel taxes, y% state budgeted funding, z% federal matching funds.  I have no idea what percentage of DJUSD is provided by any of these sources.  On the surface, $9,000 from a transfer student is more than 14 times what the parcel tax is.  That sounds like a money maker.  And, I assume that the family of the kid transferring in is paying something like regular federal and state income taxes.  I really do have a hard time trying to understand how an transfer student is costing us in Davis more than our own in-boundary kids.

  9. Ron Glick

    A couple of points about transfer students that seem to be missing from the conversation and, I would add a caveat  that I’m not a lawyer, so there are likely exceptions that I’m not familiar with. If a student has a parent that lives in another district but works in Davis or if a student lived in Davis and then moves to another district state law allows that student to be enrolled or continue to be enrolled in DJUSD and there isn’t much we can do about it. The number of inter district students that don’t qualify under these laws is much smaller than the total.

    Also its my understanding that special needs students from other districts who are enrolled in DJUSD are paid for by the district they reside in so they don’t cost DJUSD more. This is a simplification of a complex situation but I’m sure the district has people who can explain it in detail.

    As for whether its a net plus for the district financially is quite simple. DJUSD would simply not be in the inter district transfer business beyond what is required by law if it wasn’t  a net positive to the district. DJUSD has one of the best bean counters around.

    1. Hiram Jackson

      “If a student has a parent that lives in another district but works in Davis…”

      This is how Davis JUSD teachers who live elsewhere are able to enroll their kids into Davis schools.  It’s a factor in attracting teachers to work in our district.

    2. Jim Hoch

      A district is under no obligation to accept employment based transfers.

      http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=48204.&lawCode=EDC

      “This subdivision does not require the school district within which at least one parent or the legal guardian of a pupil is employed to admit the pupil to its schools. A school district shall not, however, refuse to admit a pupil under this subdivision on the basis, except as expressly provided in this subdivision, of race, ethnicity, sex, parental income, scholastic achievement, or any other arbitrary consideration.”

      1. Hiram Jackson

        “A district is under no obligation to accept employment based transfers.”

        True, but if the district were to deny employment-based transfers, there would be additional consequences to accept on the district employment end of the equation.  My sense is that increasingly a lot of newer teachers don’t live in Davis.  There will be incentive for many to find employment elsewhere where the pay and benefits are better.

      2. Ron Glick

        Interesting, thanks for posting the link to the relevant section of the Ed Code. Still once they are in you must keep them so even if you were to change district policy it would take many years before the schools would empty out of transfers.

        As for the notion that district administrators are packing the schools with transfer students to pad the need for administrators, as Mark suggests as a possibility below, its really not that sort of diabolical cabal of administrators pushing this. Instead its the simple fiscal reality of DJUSD’s finances.

    3. Mark West

      “DJUSD would simply not be in the inter district transfer business beyond what is required by law if it wasn’t  a net positive to the district.”

      The validity of this statement is dependent on how you define ‘a net positive for the district.’ Are we talking about the residents of the district, the employees of the district, or the administrators of the District? Keeping the school’s population artificially high is potentially beneficial for the administrators whose jobs and compensation depend on it, and for those currently in the jobs that would otherwise be redundant. It also might be argued to be beneficial if the transfer students are acting as ‘placeholders’ keeping school sites open while waiting for an expanding population of local kids to eventually take their place, but it is harder to justify having the local property owners continue to pay for a district that is larger than necessary, either for the needs of today or for the future.

  10. Don Shor

    I suggest you all consider what the district would look like, how many schools would need to close, and which programs would have to be curtailed if several hundred students were removed from the current enrollment figures.

    1. Mark West

      Why maintain a larger district than is necessary to meet the needs of the local community? Are we running the school system to educate our children or to provide job security for employees?

      1. Bill Marshall

        Couple of good questions… but one has a ‘hook’… who is “our children”?  Open to wide interpretation, as I believe you know…

        Main thrust as I understand your basic premise, goes along the lines of education being an “industry”/employer, and as a virtual monopoly, are they serving the target folk, and those who pay for it?… or protecting their “turf”… salaries, benefits, prestige, etc.

        Feel free to correct me, Mark…

        1. Mark West

          Bill – The demographics of Davis have changed over the past two decades with a sizable reduction in the cohort that supplies the local students for our schools. So far, the district has responded to the change by increasing transfers in an effort to keep the schools full instead of consolidating operations (and laying off employees). That is perhaps a smart move to make if the expectation is the local population of kids will rise again in the near future. That is not going to happen however as long as we maintain our anti-housing policies in town. What it comes down to is that we should either allow the City to grow thus increasing the population of local kids or require the school district to shrink to a size more appropriate for the current demographic.

        2. Bill Marshall

          You are correct, Mark… demographics in Davis have changed in last 20 years… 25 years ago we had 3 “school-aged” kids… no longer… none…

          Yet, we still live here… when we moved into our new neighborhood, 25 years ago, there were 39 school aged kids in the 15 houses in our immediate neighborhood… now there are ~ 6, augmented by 3 who recently moved in… so, ~ 9.  Snapshot, just a snapshot.

          Only two (new) families in the neighborhood are likely to generate (pun intended) additional kids in the foreseeable future…

          Not a statistical sample, just what I can readily observe… nothing more, nothing less…

          Mark, I have a long distrust of DJUSD  upper-echelon administrators, augmented by their ‘dismissal’ of competent City employees, when paths crossed… I can name names, easily, but then this post would be ‘moderated’ into “the bit bucket”, because it seems DJUSD can do no wrong in the VG upper echelon view…

          Look at the DJUSD salaries for upper Mgt, vs. City…

      2. Don Shor

        With reduced enrollment, the district would have fewer course offerings. For example, Davis has four course offerings in Chinese, six in French and German, five in Japanese, and seven in Spanish. Dixon no longer offers first and second year French, but has two upper levels still available; beyond that, they have two different types of Spanish classes available (native and regular) and one AP Spanish class. That’s it.
        It takes a certain number of students to keep courses available and schools open.
        Reduce the enrollment, you reduce the course offerings and affect the quality of education in the district. It’s that simple.

        1. Ron Oertel

          Don:  “Reduce the enrollment, you reduce the course offerings and affect the quality of education in the district. It’s that simple.”

          So, you’re stating that smaller school districts are necessarily inferior to larger districts?  First time I’ve ever heard that claim.  (Usually, it’s the other-way around.)

          Regardless – if your claim is true, it seems to me that you’re advocating for inferior schools for Dixon, per your example.  Which would impact the children who remain in them.

          1. Don Shor

            So, you’re stating that smaller school districts are necessarily inferior to larger districts?

            School districts with lower enrollment have fewer course offerings. That is specifically what I said and showed with one example.
            If Davis reduces enrollment, and thereby reduces revenues, it will have to reduce course offerings.

        2. Bill Marshall

          Ron…

          So, you’re stating that smaller school districts are necessarily inferior to larger districts?  First time I’ve ever heard that claim.  (Usually, it’s the other-way around.)

          Citations?  Facts?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Ron which of these would you consider small districts:

            Top 50:

            Palo Alto Unified School District
            Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District
            Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District
            San Marino Unified School District
            San Dieguito Union High School District
            Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District
            Carmel Unified School District
            Acalanes Union High School District
            Pleasanton Unified School District
            Poway Unified School District
            Irvine Unified School District
            Coronado Unified School District
            La Canada Unified School District
            Manhattan Beach Unified School District
            Arcadia Unified School District
            Albany City Unified School District
            Tamalpais Union High School District
            South Pasadena Unified School District
            Fremont Union High School District
            San Ramon Valley Unified School District
            Los Alamitos Unified School District
            Piedmont City Unified School District
            Redondo Beach Unified School District
            Oak Park Unified School District
            Laguna Beach Unified School District
            San Mateo Union High School District
            Conejo Valley Unified School District
            Walnut Valley Unified School District
            Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District
            Fullerton Joint Union High School District
            Beverly Hills Unified School District
            Dublin Unified School District
            Huntington Beach Union High School District
            Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
            Sequoia Union High School District
            Western Sierra Collegiate Academy
            Capistrano Unified School District
            Davis Joint Unified School District
            Temple City Unified School District
            Berkeley Unified School District
            Las Virgenes Unified School District
            Spencer Valley Elementary School District
            San Marcos Unified School District
            Carlsbad Unified School District
            Roseville Joint Union High School District
            Tustin Unified School District
            Rocklin Unified School District
            William S. Hart Union School District
            Newport-Mesa Unified School District
            Santa Barbara Unified School District

        3. Ron Oertel

          Bill:  Why don’t you start by asking Don where he’s getting his facts from, since he made the initial claim.

          Then, we can talk about the problems that routinely occur in big-city schools, across the nation.  Starting with Sacramento.

  11. Ron Oertel

    David:  “Ron which of these would you consider small districts?”

    Not sure how large each of those are, compared to Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego . . .

    In any case, what is your point – in reference to Don’s claim, since he is the one who essentially stated that smaller districts are inferior?

    Do you and Bill agree with that conclusion?  (And, how does relative wealth factor into each of those comparisons?)

     

    1. David Greenwald

      Eyeballing the list, it looks like most are larger than DJUD.

      I don’t read Don’s comment as smaller districts are inferior.  I read it to mean that districts that can offer more programs have advantages.  It appears from the list that Don is correct – the districts on that list have two things in common – wealthy locales and larger than DJUD.

      1. Ron Oertel

        ” . . . the districts on that list have two things in common – wealthy locales and larger than DJUD.”

        Uhm – Davis is on that list.  Do you consider it to be large? How about the rest of them, compared to Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego . . .

        In looking at that list, I suspect that relative wealth is the biggest factor regarding “quality” of education. And, wealth (and corresponding “exclusivity”) is often concentrated in smaller districts.

  12. Ron Oertel

    Don:  In reference to your follow-up comment, here is exactly what you said (without evidence):

    “Reduce the enrollment, you reduce the course offerings and affect the quality of education in the district. It’s that simple.”

    For this to be logically true, smaller districts would consistently have to offer fewer courses, of lesser quality than larger districts. No evidence has been presented to support this illogical claim.

    1. Don Shor

      I don’t have to provide “evidence” that reducing enrollment reduces course offerings — though I did give one example in the area of foreign languages. You can compare the course catalogues of DJUSD and Dixon schools if you want more examples. They’re available online.

      One measure of the quality of a school district is the breadth and depth of courses that it offers. Do you disagree?

      1. Ron Oertel

        Don:  “I don’t have to provide “evidence” that reducing enrollment reduces course offerings.”

        That’s the beauty of blogs such as this.  Anyone can say anything, regardless of whether or not it’s b.s. 😉

        1. Don Shor

          That’s the beauty of blogs such as this. Anyone can say anything, regardless of whether or not it’s b.s. 😉

          I provide evidence, Ron. It isn’t BS. Reducing enrollment reduces course offerings. That is a FACT. Look at the course catalogues of different high schools in districts of different sizes. I did. You didn’t. I provided an example. You provided none. So don’t call my comments BS, ok?

  13. Don Shor

    For this to be logically true, smaller districts would consistently have to offer fewer courses, of lesser quality than larger districts. No evidence has been presented to support this illogical claim.

    I presented evidence. Foreign language. Want more? It’s not illogical. It’s factual. I didn’t say the courses themselves are of “lesser quality.” Dixon may well have great Spanish teachers. But they don’t offer German, Japanese, or a full range of French language classes. So there’s some evidence right there, if you happen to think a range of foreign language options is a useful thing for a student to have available. It’s certainly one possible measure of the quality of a school district.

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      You presented one example, which probably has a relatively high-percentage of Spanish-speaking students.

      And, by your own logic, you’re advocating for a continued “drain” from Dixon schools, thereby impacting the kids who are “left behind”, there.  Is that really what you think is best?

      I’m not going to perform research to support your claim that smaller districts consistently have fewer course offerings, resulting in a lesser education. If I understand it correctly, David provided a list of the “top 50” school districts in California (whatever that means), which doesn’t appear to include the largest districts. If that’s the case, how do you explain that?

  14. Sharla Cheney

    David, If a child moves into Davis into a house where previously there wasn’t one living there, that child brings $9000 in ADA – just like a transfer student.  However, there is no incentive for families to move to Davis, if they have all the access and live out of town.  Thus our declining enrollment.  Other cities have very strict residency requirements and have maintained excellent schools with opportunities for resident students.  A larger school can mean fewer opportunities for students in some areas, such as athletics, arts, music when there are limited spots.

     

     

     

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      “However, there is no incentive for families to move to Davis, if they have all the access and live out of town.”

      This is the part that (probably) really sticks in some folks’ craw.  It’s as if Davis is the “patsy” for surrounding towns.  (Or, at least – the craw of those who are subject to the parcel tax – which appears to be an ever-shrinking percentage of the population that actually accesses Davis’ schools.)

      I wouldn’t be surprised if real estate agents mention this, in surrounding towns.  Unfortunately, this “arrangement” ultimately works against those towns as well, since they have less incentive to improve their own schools. But hey, as long as the market-rate, non-senior, single-family homeowners in Davis continue to pay . . .

      (Did I leave out any other “exceptions”?)

      1. Ron Oertel

        Oh, and the “beauty” of it all is that as apartments, Affordable housing, senior residential developments, and student housing is built, single-family, non-senior homeowners will “feel the brunt” of the will of the majority – who don’t necessarily have to pay. It’s almost comical.

        Not to mention the effort at the state level, to exempt “student housing” from school district impact fees.  (Perhaps those megadorms weren’t such a good idea, as some warned on here?) Not withstanding the lack of adequate fiscal analysis in the first place.

        1. Hiram Jackson

          “It’s almost comical.”

          As mentioned earlier, apartment units used to have a separate assessment, higher than what currently exists, that was deemed fair at the time.  Jose Granda, who led recent campaigns against local school parcel taxes, filed a lawsuit against the district as part of the recent Borikas decision against having a separate rate of assessment on multi-dwelling units.  His case abolished that separate rate.

          During the next school parcel tax election after that, the school parcel tax opponents then turned around and said, like you, that it was ridiculous and unfair that apartment dwellers should pay so little.  It was an ironically comical moment.

          The law limits the possibility of having fairer taxes.  But I’ve also learned that there is absolutely no tax policy in existence that will gain 100% consensus as being fair.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Hiram:  If voters perceive that the law is increasingly unfair, the chances become greater that they’ll reject future parcel tax increases.

          I realize I’m probably alone in this (at least on the Vanguard), but the “fairest” tax would be levied against the actual users – regardless of where they live, or the type of housing they occupy. (In other words, families with children who attend the schools.)

          But, I realize that such a suggestion borders on “blasphemy” in our culture. Hell, didn’t Trump recently approve a larger child tax credit, as well? And, there’s bipartisan efforts to spread other childcare costs to society at large, as well.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “but the “fairest” tax would be levied against the actual users ”

            Just pointing out that technically that would be a “fee” not a “tax”

        3. Hiram Jackson

          “…but the “fairest” tax would be levied against the actual users – regardless of where they live, or the type of housing they occupy.”

          Sort of like added tuition for public schools?

          I think that would invite a lawsuit over the issue of California public K-12 education being “free,” which is part of the state constitution.

        4. Ron Oertel

          Hiram:  Again, if the law no longer fits society’s goals (or perceptions of “fairness”), a revolt of some type will ultimately manifest itself.

          I don’t think we’re there, yet. But, we may start seeing signs of it locally, regarding parcel tax increases (primarily due to the manner in which they’re administered). Telling folks that the law “is what it is” won’t work forever.

        5. Hiram Jackson

          A recent relevant column by Dan Walters.

          ‘For years, even decades, polling has consistently found that Californians’ highest political priority is public education.

          That trend continues in a new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California, conducted in the wake of teacher strikes for higher salaries in three urban school districts.

          PPIC found that three-quarters of California adults and likely voters want Gov. Gavin Newsom to make support of the state’s K-12 education system a high priority; that a “lack of funding” rates the highest on a list of vital issues; and that 61 percent believe teacher salaries are too low.’

          And

          ‘However, it’s not at all certain that, despite their apparent support for spending more, Californians are willing to tax themselves more.

          The poll found only tepid support for a pending ballot measure that would create a “split roll” for property taxes, thus increasing levies on commercial property such as office buildings and warehouses.

          Moreover, when PPIC asked voters whether they’d vote for “parcel taxes” for their local schools, fewer than half said they would – a far cry from the two-thirds vote margins such taxes must obtain.

          The PPIC polling again underscores the essential dilemma for those who want California to sharply expand school spending and raise California’s per-pupil support from middling, vis-à-vis other states, to match the highest-spending states such as New York and New Jersey.’

        6. Jim Hoch

          This is where Serrano comes in. If we look at the recent teacher actions in LA and Oakland, those would be very effective in moving local funds to schools. At the state level the legislature would rather fund bills that are attached to particular members.

          Has either Curry or Dodd done anything to increase funding for K12? 

          Dodd cares less about Davis schools than he does garage door openers. As long as we rely on state government to set funding levels for schools they will be poorly funded.

        7. Ron Oertel

          Hiram:  Your citations illustrate the usual dilemma, where folks want something (but want others to pay for it). It ultimately makes no sense.

          Regarding your comment, I’m wondering how New York and New Jersey have been able to fund their schools at a high level.  And, did it “pay off”, regarding the results?

        8. Bill Marshall

          And, given,

           single-family, non-senior homeowners will “feel the brunt” of the will of the majority

          and,

          but the “fairest” tax would be levied against the actual users – regardless of where they live, or the type of housing they occupy. (In other words, families with children who attend the schools.)

          … who paid for your education?  (Keep in mind that property tax, income taxes, parcel taxes, other GF, special taxes all feed into the revenues for schools… K-12, Community Colleges, UC/CSU’s)…

          Did you and/or your parents directly pay for all that?

          Meant as clarifying questions… for you… I care not an iota for an answer…

          And, if the educated folks contribute to your pension/SS, Medicare, based on their income…

          Predict there will be a complaint and this post will be edited or expunged shortly…

          OK…

        9. Ron Oertel

          Bill:  “Meant as clarifying questions… for you… I care not an iota for an answer…”

          Kind of strange to ask a “clarifying question” of me, but not caring “an iota” for an answer.  (Now that I think about it, how much is an “iota”, anyway?)

          There’s nothing unreasonable about the concepts which underlie your questions.  Had things been closer to what I suggest, my parents would have contributed more directly.  However, since they were part of and participants in the existing system, it is similar to the situation today.

          Regarding retirements, workers (such as myself) usually contribute toward their own.  However, there is no doubt some aspect of a “ponzi” scheme going on, in which the system depends upon new workers to fund the retirees.  This is yet another mistake, in the current system.

          The mistake that you consistently make is that you consistently make is that you try to make everything personal, rather than engage in concepts that would apply to all.

          I do understand that there’s a potential problem for society, if children don’t receive an adequate education (e.g., if their parents can’t pay).

    2. Dave Hart

      I doubt very much that there are very many, if any at all, families driving their kids to Davis to go to school who don’t have an employment relationship in town and an overriding need to enroll their kids here.  If they believe their kids are getting something more here, they are probably mistaken.  Yes, our school system is good but not so much better that it would be worth the kind of effort you suggest.

      1. Ron Oertel

        ” . . . and an overriding need to enroll their kids here.”

        What would that “overriding need” be, unless they actually worked at the same school that their kids attend (or very nearby)?  They’re probably dropping off their kids on one side of town, and then driving to UCD.

        There isn’t one redeeming factor in any of this, including fiscal and environmental impacts, as well as impacts to the school districts in other towns.

        The entire subject reeks of rehashed desperation by some who want to maintain the status quo for various personal reasons, rather than what’s best for society.

         

        1. Bill Marshall

          The entire subject reeks of rehashed desperation by some who want to maintain the status quo (taxes?) for various personal reasons, rather than what’s best for society.

          True story… your post is positive proof of your post/posit… [“reeks” was a nice touch!]

          [Bolded text, mine]

          QED…

          Note: I predict my post will be moderated/expunged before midnight, which is OK by me…

        2. Ron Oertel

          Thanks, Bill.  I liked the “reeks” comment myself.  Took me awhile to find the right word.

          Strange, how you’ve noted some of the same points I have in other articles, but seem to object when I state the same thing. (Seems to be a recurring pattern, with you.)

          I feel no desperation, regardless of the outcome of the possible parcel tax.  I’m more indifferent than you might think, regarding it.  But, I don’t think it’s being applied in a fair or reasonable manner, which I recall you pointing out as well.

          I do perceive a sense of desperation from some other commenters, who clearly support the parcel tax.  And, I have some empathy for their concerns, to tell you the truth.

          Where I’m more concerned is if there’s an attempt to “develop our way” out of the problem. But, I suspect that has an even lesser chance of approval than a parcel tax. (And – even if approved, it’s less likely to address the core issue.)

          Someday, folks might accept the fact that schools ultimately have to reflect the needs of a community – not the other way around.

        3. Hiram Jackson

          Ron Oertel:  “Someday, folks might accept the fact that schools ultimately have to reflect the needs of a community – not the other way around.”

          I know this may be an “agree to disagree” moment.

          With the current local school parcel tax and recently passed facilities bond measure, I believe the Davis schools come closer to reflecting the needs and interests of the community.  Many districts can’t or won’t pass such measures, but Davis will.  I don’t take that for granted.

          Without them we are mostly at the mercy of the state’s agenda for K-12 education, which is focused almost exclusively on standardized test scores in math and English Language Arts.  Many educated and affluent families may feel that those standardized test scores are socially validating.  I think such exclusive focus to be an emerging root cause of social inequality.

        4. Ron Oertel

          Hiram:  My comment was primarily directed at the apparent belief (by some) that the school district should not adjust to the size of the population it’s intended to serve. And, that the needs of the school district should determine the size of the population.

          It was not actually a comment regarding the parcel tax itself. (But, I do believe that the structure/application of the tax is inherently unreasonable.)

      2. Jim Hoch

        Dave, if the kids have an IEP or if they are delinquent then they are getting much more resources here than they would at a surrounding district. DJU invests heavily in both groups though that comes at a cost to the other students.

        In California most of the K-12 funding goes to politically powerful cities and a much smaller amount comes to Davis. Once Davis gets that short end they spend most of it on special needs kids and quite a bit on losers.

        As long as parents of “normal” kids don’t mind getting the short end of the short stick…

    3. Jim Hoch

      If the district were to close an elementary school or two and one middle school then the parcel tax dollars would go further in providing enrichment programs as they would have fewer facilities and students to cover.

      Transfer students are highly likely to be more expensive to educate than local students so increasing the number of transfers will lower the amount of money available for compensation. Central administrators will hide this as they prefer a larger district.

      1. Don Shor

        Transfer students are highly likely to be more expensive to educate than local students

        You have yet to provide any evidence that this is the case.

        1. Jim Hoch

          1: Observation of DJU employees I talk to

          2: Parents of special needs children tend to be more highly motivated than other parents and DJU is the district of choice for many of them in this region.

      2. Jim Hoch

        “You have yet to provide any evidence that this is the case.”

        The proponents of admitting more transfer students have not provided any evidence that transfer students cost less to educate than the ADA received.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          The district calculated that they can add 120 transfer students without the need for additional staff or facilities.

        2. Jim Hoch

          “The district calculated that they can add 120 transfer students without the need for additional staff or facilities.”

          Then it sounds like we are overstaffed for our current needs. Why not ask them to reduce headcount?

           

          “school administrators will recommend whatever option is best for school administrators”

    4. Hiram Jackson

      Sharla Cheney: “Other cities have very strict residency requirements and have maintained excellent schools with opportunities for resident students.”

      It might depend on what funding environment they’re working with.  Basic Aid districts (those school districts who are able to fund themselves entirely on local property taxes) are ones that will tend to maintain strict residency requirements.  They don’t get more money from the state for more students.  They are typically more affluent and less diverse (at least economically) than Davis.  Examples: San Marino, Carmel, Santa Clara, Piedmont, Palo Alto.  Davis JUSD is not a Basic Aid district and is far from becoming one.

      “A larger school can mean fewer opportunities for students in some areas, such as athletics, arts, music when there are limited spots.”

      I can’t speak to athletics, because I know less about those programs, but generally, the larger high school, the more courses offered in performing arts (music, dance, theater).  It also helps if those communities are better-educated/affluent.

      1. Sharla Cheney

        Davis High has one Jazz Band, one women’s Soccer Team, one Madrigal Choir…  My daughter tried, but failed, to earn a spot in any auditioned choir or play on a club or Varsity Soccer team, yet when we moved her to a Bay Area High School that had strict residency requirements, she was able to play Varsity Soccer, (also played on a Premier U17 club team.)  Her opportunities at a smaller high school were far greater than what was available to her at Davis High.

        1. Hiram Jackson

          Sharla Cheney: “Davis High has one Jazz Band, one women’s Soccer Team, one Madrigal Choir…  My daughter tried, but failed, to earn a spot in any auditioned choir…”

          Advanced Treble Choir is also an audition choir at DHS.

          I’m glad that you and your daughter found something that worked for her.

      2. Bill Marshall

        First of all, Hiram, thank you for the link to “basic aid”… good start to understanding (?) the somewhat (apparently) ‘Byzantine’ complexity of school funding… the legislature, the judiciary, and voters, have successfully not only muddied the waters, then complicated it further as to what local agencies [other than schools] can use as funding… [anyone know the acronym ERAF?]

        http://www.californiacityfinance.com/ERAFfacts.pdf]

        Everyone should understand the concept of ‘compounding’, particularly as to financing, and as to “stupids” in reacting to financial concerns.

        It is said:  “the law is an ass”; “first, we kill the lawyers”; “it is what it is”; and, “it stinks to high heaven”…

        I have no answers… but am very open to cogent, reasoned, suggestions…

        1. Ron Oertel

          “I have no answers… but am very open to cogent, reasoned, suggestions…”

          You’ll ultimately only have two choices:  support the parcel tax increase, or don’t support it. (Assuming it comes forward.)

          You also have no choice regarding whether or not the district accepts out-of-district students.

           

  15. Ron Glick

    Jim Hoch said: “In California most of the K-12 funding goes to politically powerful cities and a much smaller amount comes to Davis.Once Davis gets that short end they spend most of it on special needs kids and quite a bit on losers.”

    While the first sentence is true the second represents a shocking opinion that I find disturbing. First, don’t all children, including those with special needs, deserve an appropriate education? Second how do you define who the losers are?

    I have a friend who raised two kids, got a Ph.D from UC Davis, worked at Calgene and Monsanto, and now works at a Bay Area start up focusing on the internal biome. She once told me a story about a frustrated high school teacher who told her she was a loser and would never amount to anything. The story always stayed with me and I never in my entire career decided someone was a loser.

    One time I had a student who everyone gave up on but I knew was smart and told her so. She got it together and when she graduated she gave me a card that thanked me and said I was the only one that believed in her.

    Recently I ran into an ex-student who didn’t graduate but is doing well. She has a job with good pay and performance based bonuses, health insurance and a 401k retirement plan. Her company wants to promote her but she isn’t ready. She works out regularly at 5 each morning before work and is happy and healthy. Would you have called her a loser because she didn’t finish high school or was societies investment in her worthwhile giving her enough tools to succeed?

    I could go on and on but I’ll add just one more, P. She was a Gothe who was taking a lot of drugs. She was not doing well and confided in me about using LSD. I suggested she lay off and told her “It doesn’t seem like its helping, you don’t seem happy.” P did give it up, finished high school, earned a Ph.D from UC Davis and is now a college professor. P could have easily been dismissed as a drug using weirdo Gothe, and many of my colleagues did. I made her my teaching assistant and was so proud of her whenever I ran into her while she was working on her Ph.D.

     

    You never know what someone will do in the future, especially a young person, trying to figure out the world. Our children should not be dismissed as losers. In my humble opinion every one of them is worthy of our combined efforts to help them develop, grow and become functioning members of society.

     

    1. Jim Hoch

      “First, don’t all children, including those with special needs, deserve an appropriate education? ” Yes but only some get money. If you want your children to have small class sizes and individual attention then tell make sure they never study! Preferably they should commit some burglaries and better yet, beat down a couple of class mates! 

      Then they can get out of the low rent cattle car Davis Senior High with one teacher per 24-32 students and into King with one teacher per 4-6 students. If you can wrangle an IEP than they can have their own tutor follow them around.

      Studying and a desire to learn are not valued at DJU. That is what I find shocking.

      1. Hiram Jackson

        “If you can wrangle an IEP than they can have their own tutor follow them around.”

        Having an IEP doesn’t necessarily mean you get a tutor (or para-educator).

        1. Jim Hoch

          Hiram, agreed that implying that all IEP holders get a paraeducator was an overstatement.

          However I would note that if your kid is an MS13 gangbanger in Los Angeles likely he is receiving $100K in services while if your kid is a diligent student in Davis they are getting $5K in services.

          I do not agree with this allocation but perhaps their are people who do.

        2. Ron Glick

          I know several young people who are doing long prison sentences including life without parole. They are going to cost the state so much more money than anything the state ever spent on anyone’s education. I’d rather gamble on spending more up front in the hope of not spending even more on the back end and that we could avoid such tragedies for both the victim and the perps.

      2. Ron Glick

        I’ve never met a parent who gamed the system to get an IEP for a kid. Maybe it happens and maybe you have some story to tell that you know of such a situation. Usually, when a child has an IEP, there are serious struggles and everyone is trying to do the best they can for someone who is in much need.

        Blaming Special Needs kids for the defunding of public education that leads to so many other problems in our schools seems misplaced. There are many real problems in public education but laying them at the feet of those who are least able or have the greatest obstacles to overcome seems like the last place we should be looking to balance the budget.

        1. Bill Marshall

          I agree, Ron G…

          Wasn’t too long ago many posters here were defending another ‘special needs group’ … the G & T…

          aka, “special abilities group”

          Two sides of same coin…

          Both have ‘special needs’…

  16. Jim Hoch

    Ron, I get that you think my kids are not worth investing in.

    I disagree.

    Despite the fact they are not aspiring criminals I believe they have value anyway.

    1. Ron Glick

      Where did I say your kids are not worth investing in? I believe all kids are worth investing in. I think we should be spending more on each kid and paying their teachers better as well. I think the entire system is underfunded and has been for 40 years. That is why I’m going to vote to pony up more money for DJUSD.

      1. Jim Hoch

        “There are many real problems in public education but laying them at the feet of those who are least able or have the greatest obstacles to overcome seems like the last place we should be looking to balance the budget.”

        That leaves my kids, who are already getting the least, as the first place to cut.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for