Judy Umeck, a 16 year member of the Saugus Union School District board, would like you to click your ball point pen and put your John or Jane Hancock on a petition to get a school funding initiative on the ballot - even folks who oppose raising taxes for any reason.
“Even if they don’t want to be taxed. Because that’s not what this is at the moment. This is let’s get it on the ballot. Please sign the petition because then we can bring the action item back to the community, back to the voters,” said Umeck.
No, Umeck (photo left) is not advocating Governor Brown’s initiative (recently merged with the Millionaire's Tax initiative) or the Molly Munger initiative – not just yet. What she wants is for the discussion among voters to continue to the ballot box.
“Once they go into that ballot box they have every right to vote according to what’s best for their family. At least we need to provide them with that opportunity to do so. Instead of saying nope, there’s no initiative and now we’re not solving the problem,” Umeck said.
Sue Solomon, (photo right) Legislative Chair for the 34th District Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and Newhall School District Board Member, also wants signatures. However she and the PTA are throwing their support behind Munger.
“They’re very different initiatives. The governor is dealing with trying to close a deficit in the state budget and the Munger initiative is to provide more money for education above what the state can provide,” said Solomon.
A new poll indicates public support for some kind of initiative that would raise taxes primarily on higher income residents. According to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll 64 percent of those surveyed said they would support the governor's initiative if it appeared on the November ballot. Only 32 percent support the Munger initiative.
Tuesday night a representative of the Munger initiative, officially known as Our Children, Our Future, will make a presentation to the board seeking their support for their proposal.
“What we’ve said to our parents is, part of our responsibility is to analyze the state initiatives and then bring back a recommendation to our community on how those initiatives will specifically the Saugus School District. Then how it will affect all the Santa Clarita School districts as a whole,” said Umeck.
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What Umeck is looking for is a guarantee of a specific dollar for the school districts to count on.
“If it does not and it’s simply balancing the state budget and we don’t know the criteria for awarding school districts money will be yet, if it’s not specific enough, then we need to be very leery of that,” Umeck said.
On the surface Governor Brown’s proposal would not get a smiley face from Umeck since it proposes funding schools as well as fixing the state budget. The Munger initiative has a narrower focus on local school funding, early education investment and school bond debt reduction.
For Umeck and the board, solving the school funding crisis has a three pronged approach.
“Is there a state initiative we can get behind, one. Two, do we need to look at something more locally. Three we have some parents looking at foundations. So we’re looking at what works best for Saugus,” said Umeck.
Although every school district in the Santa Clarita Valley is facing a budget crisis there is a bright spot.
“The positive is the collaboration of the all the districts. They’ve come together: the boards have, the superintendents have. That’s been the shining light,” Umeck said.
For more information on the Molly Munger initiative click here .
For more information on Governor Brown’s initiative click here .