Capistrano Schools to Take Biggest Hit in County Money Grab

Altogether, school districts across Orange County will face a $110-million shortfall, which, by law, the cash-strapped state must plug. CUSD's share is nearly $19 million.

will take the largest hit—nearly $19 million—if the county goes through with a plan to divert property tax money earmarked for schools to county coffers, officials with the county Department of Education said today.

By law, the state is supposed to cover the shortfall, said Darren Dang, director of business services. But even if the state is able to bridge the gap, it would create massive cash-flow issues for school districts.

County Superintendent Bill Habermehl has told Patch .

Ron Lebs, deputy superintendent of business services for the Capistrano Unified School District, isn’t either.

“It’s living in the ambiguity, and not really knowing and trying to be prudent,” Lebs said.

In announcing its plan last week, county officials said they would redirect $73.5 million away from local schools so that they could plug a $49.5-million budget hole of their own and stave off planned layoffs. But education officials were already expecting a $30-million to $40-million shortfall in property taxes in an account called the “education revenue augmentation fund.” 

Adding it all together, the potential hit to local schools throughout Orange County is upward of $110 million, Dang said.

Capistrano Unified's share of that $110 million is $18.9 million, Dang said. The pain is distributed to school districts based on the property taxes collected in a school district’s area. The high value of property in south Orange County and the size of Capistrano Unified means CUSD takes the biggest hit.

While all counties deal with shortages in their education revenue augmentation funds, and the state has consistently made school districts whole in the past, the $73.5-million more the county seeks is “unique to Orange County,” Dang said.

Last year, the fund was short $23.5 million, some of which was repaid locally by the Orange County auditor-controller, said Chris Lombardo, coordinator of accounting for the Orange County Department of Education. Capo’s share last year was about $4 million.

“The state has always backfilled the schools,” Dang said.

But even if the state—which as Dang says has a “bigger nut to crack” with its own multibillion-dollar shortfall—repays the local school districts, the funds won’t come fast enough, and schools will face cash-flow problems affecting their ability to pay the bills, he said.

At Capo, Lebs said the district was already anticipating a $6.5-million cash-flow problem by year's end without the additional bad news from the county. The Board of Trustees has approved borrowing up to $75 million in short-term loans, but those loans must be repaid by April, so the concern is “what happens in the April, May and June arena,” he said. The fiscal year ends June 30.

The district will feel the first impact of the county move as early as December, when school officials now expect to receive $7.2 million less in property tax revenue than they were counting on, Lebs said.

All of this is on top of news that the state may “” on mid-year state budget cuts that kick in if tax revenues fall short. So far this year, the state is $3.7 billion behind, reports the Sacramento Bee.

If the state makes the full cut to K-12 education outlined in the budget should $4 billion in revenues not materialize, CUSD would need to make a $14-million cut in the current year’s budget.

The teachers’ union, Capistrano Unified Education Association, has agreed to . Up for discussion will be salary, class size and the length of the school year.

Capo mom November 30, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Taking money out of the community? What do you think the county is going to do with it, go to Vegas? Brown made a deal with CTA and in the same budget deal cut revenue that was promised to the county. These things have consequences. The county is just getting creative. Does it bother me? Not particularly. Money in CUSD should be spent for the betterment of the students. But that isn't happening. What we see instead is CUEA grabbing for every cent with the standard rolling justifications. Now we are told that the strike was a good thing because it saved the district money. That is funny, really. Using this logic, perhaps we should send the students home and close the classrooms altogether. We could probably hire back a number of teachers if we did that.
just a parent November 30, 2011 at 06:22 PM
Let's stick with the facts.. The teacher's in CUSD agreed to a 10% pay cut with restoration if additional funds were received. The district received apx. $13M more than expected from the state. Thus, 3.5% of the original cuts were rescinded which included adding back instructional days for our kids. My calculations seem to show that the teachers at CUSD have still absorbed 6.5% in pay reductions to help bridge budget shortfalls. So, let's at least be honest...teachers have taken a cut...Capo mom may not be happy that the cut ended up "only" 6.5% instead of 10% but clearly they have taken a substantial cut and may indeed negotiate larger cuts in the future based upon more bad financial news from the state. Here are links to newspaper reports of both the original contract and the restoration of a portion of salary concessions. Just keeping it real. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/28/local/la-me-0428-capo-strike-20100428 http://www.ocregister.com/news/pay-107658-ocprint-district-employees.html
Pam Sunderman November 30, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Check the contracts...there is language in there dealing with every issue. What better documentation. If you care about the history of CUEA contributions check past contracts. Sorry., you'll have to find them on your own...but you enjoy researching.
Pam Sunderman November 30, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Mike, Teachers do not support poor teaching and neither does the union. It is the job of the union to ensure that there is a fair and equitable way to evaluate teachers. It also takes the cooperation of administrators to evaluate teachers. Your opinion of a teacher may differ from that of another parent. It happened to me as a parent on several different occasions. The strike was really about preserving collective bargaining. Teachers lost money individually and collectively. The negotiations (which were broken off by the district and former board) involved a pay cut which the teachers had agreed to. The district's own fact finder made recommendations which the board refused to follow. Many teachers have the same view of unions that you do...and yet they felt it necessary to strike. CUSD is better off because of that and a new, more balanced, board came as a result of parents who wanted a return to an emphasis on students rather than politics. No matter how many times a few people on these boards say it, the majority of the new board did not receive financial or any other type of union support. But this board is willing to work together with employees to find solutions. That is how it works in most successful districts, including every other neighboring district. And it is how it should work. And just to clarify, no "union bosses" benefit financially from negotiations. CUEA is made up entirely of classroom teachers...who have taken pay cuts.
shelly November 30, 2011 at 08:32 PM
Capo mom, We pay property taxes. Some of those taxes are earmarked for education and the schools of our community. The county is taking this money to spend it somewhere else and you do not have a problem with this? So taking our earmarked education tax dollars to pay for county services for Orange or Irvine you do not have a problem with? The teachers are not asking for more money! They have already taken an over 6% pay cut and if the budget is dire they are willing to go back to the table. What exactly would money be spent on for "the betterment of the child" if the teachers are not there to teach them? Teachers are the classroom and any money spent on paying a teacher is a classroom cost. If not what exactly is your definition of a classroom. What good are books, schools, computers, white boards without a teacher? I am not buying the message that the working class and the unions are at fault for our lack of tax dollars and the state of the economy. Why are the people who keep working and are pumping money back into the community to blame? They did not take the money or destroy the economy but they are easier to blame especially when the people with most of the money can pump money into diverting the blame. The teachers and the working class have been the ones paying taxes and putting their money directly back into the community. They buy homes, buy goods and services and pay taxes. And they are not asking for more. The county is.
Capo mom December 01, 2011 at 12:09 AM
jollygirl, no documentation to your claims, no surprise. Here is an example I found - http://www.publicschoolspending.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/ISTA-chart.pdf It shows that in 2010-2011, NEA (CUEA's parent organization) spent 4% of their budget to improve teaching and learning, compared to about 83% on a combination of the following; support strong state and local affiliates (35%), administration (24%), legislative and ballot initiatives (13.87%) and PR (10%). Teaching and learning seem to be almost an afterthought. You'd think they'd have the sense to be embarrassed about this. Maybe that is why CUEA doesn't make the information public. In case you haven't noticed, shelly, there are a lot of teachers gone from the classroom already. Every time there is a choice to be made about class size the teachers throw the students (and their junior members) under the bus. Yet in this difficult economic environment, we have seen the union get back their salary cuts and furlough days, they have received an increase in the district's contribution to their benefits. The board they bought and paid for has done their best hide and mislead the public about this. That is revealing. If CUEA and their board cared about our students, they would be working to get RIF'ed teachers back in the class room. But it never comes up. They are too busy raiding the pantry. If the county money comes to CUSD, it won't end up being used to improve the classroom for our students.
Capo mom December 01, 2011 at 12:30 AM
"Teachers do not support poor teaching and neither does the union." It wouldn't be that hard to eliminate poor teachers from the classroom. Name one thing the union has done to remove poor teachers from the classroom. Just.one.thing. Anything? Your comments about the history surrounding the strike are similarly misguided. There were talks scheduled when the strike was authorized and there were additional talks scheduled when the strike was called. The old board didn't cause the strike, the union's vote did. Most parents I know were first confused then disgusted by it. The job action was designed to create a political opportunity, one that the union's board took advantage of in their very first meeting. CUEA got its payoff right off the bat. Then their board tried to hide what they did. Honest people don't operate that way. If this was simply a misunderstanding of the Brown Act, why not say so and be done with it. Why hire lawyers to create confusion and misrepresent what occurred? jollygirl and shelly never answer those questions. These aren't the actions of officials who have the interest of the kids and community in mind.
Pam Sunderman December 01, 2011 at 01:45 AM
Delete jollygirl 5:44pm on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 Keep looking...I have faith in your perseverance. Hint: CUEA contract or CUSD contract. It's all there. Or you simply call the CUEA office and ask for their help in finding past contracts...or even CUSD. I'm sure they are all archived somewhere for you.
shelly December 01, 2011 at 04:08 AM
Capo mom, The teachers took a pay cut. They did not have it all restored. They took a 6.5% pay cut. Teachers also have bills, mortgages, kids to raise, gas to buy to get to work. Everything has gone up in the last 4 years except their salaries. Their salaries were cut and their work load increased! If we want to decrease classroom size and hire back riffed teachers than it is up to us the employer who pay them to do so by paying more. Our taxes are not covering the education budget especially when the county is planning to divert our taxes elsewhere. What is the responsibility of the public, taxpayer, government? Is it always the teachers responsibility to fix it, Capo mom? CUSD does not get as much as many districts per student and now we will get less because the county would like to divert our tax dollars. It is not the teachers fault we have less money. They live, work and are part of our community. If we keep cutting all the middle income jobs and teaching jobs down to nothing who will be able to afford to live here and teach. Who will be our tax base? Where exactly do you think money comes from to support a community and businesses?
shelly December 01, 2011 at 04:21 AM
Capo mom, CUEA is a union of teachers. Teachers every day advocate for our kids. They teach our kids. Are you saying that the teachers in CUSD schools are not advocating for the children they teach? The majority of CUSD teachers are good, hard-working, professional teachers who chose the job because they wanted to teach and advocate for children. Please explain to me how paying teachers less and less, giving them less benefits and less security is going to improve education and be better for our children. Please explain how it is going to bring high caliber people to the profession and our community? Please explain to me why it is the fault of the teachers that our economy is failing? Please explain to me how it is going to improve the economy by paying less and less to the people who have actually been paying their fair share of taxes and supporting the economy?
Capo mom December 01, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Let's stick to the facts, by all means. At the time the vote was taken, the district had heard they might expect more money from the state, they hadn't actually received it. Thus it is certainly debatable as to whether the trigger had been met. The vote was taken in closed session at very first meeting of the union's board according to (some) statements by Farley. If they were simply exercising a trigger on an existing contract as some have claimed, it was unnecessary (Brown Act violation) to make this a closed session item. It could (should) have been done in open session. Documentation on the issue as whether the trigger had been met? None has ever been made public. No report was made from closed session about the issue at that meeting (Brown Act violation). Then the district, presumably act the board's direction, withheld the information from the public, by issuing their private press release. They confused the matter by denying there was a vote, saying they voted on it at a later date and saying no vote was needed. And as Capo Parent points out, they restored pay to groups they weren't supposed to (Teamsters and CUMA). If these were just mistakes made by a new board, why not say so, apologize and move on? That would spare the district the legal expense and the community considerable angst. These are not the actions of a forthright board. This is the path to take when implementing a payoff. That is what I object to.
shelly December 01, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Capo mom, They did discuss it at an open meeting. The current board honored the contract that the former board imposed and then added trigger language to.
shelly December 01, 2011 at 03:53 PM
capo mom, It is not the job of CUEA to weed out the bad teachers. It is the employers job. It is the administrators job to evaluate teachers. The former board imposed a contract. It was not negotiated or mutually agreed on. It was imposed. Because of the imposition the teachers went on strike and the former board inserted trigger language into the contract. It is easy to check the details. The state came back with more ADA and the Superintendent asked the board members at their first closed meeting after being elected if they would honor the contract that the former board had signed. He asked for a vote. They then redid all this at an open meeting. This article is about the county diverting our property tax dollars that were earmarked for educaton. The state is currently looking into this to see if it even legal. It is not the fault of the teachers that the county is diverting millions of our property tax dollars earmarked for education. It is not the fault of the teachers that the economy has faultered or that we have budget woes. The economy collapsed. Teachers who pay taxes and support our economy by living and spending in our community took a pay cut. Our taxes aren't covering any federal, state, county, education budget for the services we want and need. Some are not paying their fair share of taxes but you keep blaming the teachers who actually are paying.
shelly December 01, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Capo mom, All of the Trustees live in our community. Three of the board members have children who attend CUSD schools. I don't believe the County Supervisors who intend to take our property tax dollars out of our local district and spend them elsewhere live in our community. I do not believe that this actions shows care and concern for the children anywhere in Orange County.
Capo mom December 01, 2011 at 04:02 PM
shelly, don't you ever get tired of misrepresenting history for your union pals? Teachers are not working under a contract that was "imposed". They are working under a contract they negotiated with the former board. And the meeting you referred to, I am assuming you meant the puppet show last March that the DA's report called “political theatre” and a “toxic atmosphere” that didn't represent the public's best interest. The meeting that was called only after the trustees learned the DA was investigating them? The one where Alpay made his sarcastic motion, Brick seconded it and they had to call an "off the dais conference" (aka Brown Act violation)? The one that concluded with several board members hugging CUEA president Soderberg? That one? No information was presented to demonstrate that the trigger had been met at that performance. The DA's report said; "Evidence revealed examples of condescension or disdain for other board members or dissenting members of the public. Meaningful discussion was replaced by facetious motions and political theatre" about that meeting.
concerned parent December 01, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Shelly, You need to check your facts. The action was not taken and discussed in an open meeting. Capo Mom, an excellent re-statement of what occurred and why it's so troubling to those of who believe the district should act both transparently and with fiscal prudence on behalf of children, instead of trying to satisfy the union as its top priority.
shelly December 01, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Capo mom, My "union" pals are the people who teach my kids. I do count the people who are involved and care about my children as friends or pals. I am proud to respect teachers and the job they do. I know as an imformed involved parent and citizen that teachers do not teach for the money maybe a few do but if someone is doing something simply for money they would not choose teaching. It is a low to middle income job. Please do your research. The former board imposed a 10.1% permanent pay cut. The teachers went on strike. The board added restorative language to the contract. If the former board had simply negotiated a paycut for the length of the contract then there would have been no strike or no need for restorative language. They did not. They imposed and then had to add trigger language. Please check your facts and my statements.. Here is a link to an OC Register article that has an overview. OC Register is not CUEA biased so I thought you would appreciate it. Also, I will state again. This article is not about teachers taking money from our schools. Teachers are currently getting less. The article is about County Supervisors diverting our property taxes that are earmarked for education. It is about diverting our tax dollars meant for our children away from our children. It is political. You have stated that you do not have a problem with this. I do.
shelly December 01, 2011 at 07:07 PM
capo mom, here is the link. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/strike-245123-teachers-union.html The state has issues with the county diverting our property tax dollars also and are looking to see if it is legal.
Capo mom December 01, 2011 at 08:12 PM
shelly, read your own link! See where it says? "April 20: Teacher strike announced April 22: Strike, day 1; negotiations session April 23: Strike, day 2: negotiations session April 24: Negotiations session April 25: Negotiations session April 26: Strike, day 3; bargaining teams reach settlement" The settlement was the contract that the teachers are now working under, duh! Or is it your contention that the teachers accepted a permanent pay cut? That will be news to them. Also it should noted that a meeting between the district and the union was scheduled on Thursday April 20. CUEA cancelled the meeting and called the strike instead. The strike was nothing more than a political gimmick at the expense of our kids to get the union's board in place. The salary restoration and benefit bumps are examples of why this was done. These people have been dishonest and have used our kids and community for their own financial gain. I am surprised that doesn't bother you, well not really.
shelly December 01, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Capo mom,pay You left out all the stuff before. Selective cut and pasting or just an oversight? Here it is below. March 31 10.1% pay cut imposed. Fact finder results which the teachers accepted but the former board did not so they imposed their own terms. The paycut remained in place but trigger language was added after the strike. •June 8, 2009: Negotiations open •June 29, 2009: Impasse declared •Jan. 25-26: Independent fact-finding panel convenes •March 12: Fact-finding report issued •March 31: 10.1 percent pay cut imposed •April 20: Teacher strike announced •April 22: Strike, day 1; negotiations session •April 23: Strike, day 2: negotiations session •April 24: Negotiations session •April 25: Negotiations session •April 26: Strike, day 3; bargaining teams reach settlement As I said before the article that this comment board actually pertains to is the threat of the County diverting our property taxes that are earmarked for education away from our kids. This article is not about the teachers asking or taking any money from our kids. It is about Orange County policitians taking money away from our kids.
Capo mom December 01, 2011 at 11:10 PM
So shelly you admitted that the teachers are not working under an imposed contract, correct? In fact, they never have worked under those conditions. We all heard the protestations before the strike that the teachers didn't mind a 10% cut as long it only temporary. That is what they struck for, remember? Evidently they did mind though because as soon as their new board members were sworn in, they undid it. Too bad there was no reciprocal clause that said that further cuts could be instituted if there was an unanticipated decrease in revenue. That would have been fair, right? The larger picture helps bring things into focus. Try to follow along. Part of what was done by Gov. Brown to balance the state's budget was a confiscation of the county's DMV licensing and registration revenue that was related to the settlement OC's bankruptcy filing. The amount was around $49 million. Does that amount sound familiar? It should. The state just decided to withhold that amount, not from all counties, just from OC. It is hardly surprising that the county reciprocated by withholding this money from the state. The state can investigate all they like but they are the entity that initiated the approach to hold back revenue. It will be resolved by the courts. The problem for CUSD is that the unions have plundered the piggy bank. There are no reserves to speak of. If the money is withheld, the district is facing bankruptcy in the immediate future. Wonder why no one talking about that?
Chris Robinson December 02, 2011 at 01:33 AM
I am not from your area so please excuse me for sticking my nose into your business, but I can help but be impressed with the tone and the substance of the debate on this particular issue in this Mission Viejo Patch. I read a lot of Patches, but mostly the ones in my area -- Loma Linda and Banning/Beaumont. On those two sites are a lot of personal attacks and downright nasty comments that add nothing to the debate but "encourages" thoughtful people from participating. Congratulations to you folks on this Patch for your well thought-out opinions and commentaries. You put some of the Loma Linda and Banning/Beaumont Patch commentators to shame.
shelly December 02, 2011 at 06:39 AM
Capo mom, The former board imposed a contract. The teachers went on strike. The former board and teachers negotiated restorative language be added to the contract. It was not a new contract and the cuts stayed but restorative language was added to the imposed contract. The unions made up of teachers, fire fighters, police officers, etc. did not plunder the piggy bank. The banks and corporations did. I know that Fox news and radio pundits who are paid and supported by big corporations and investors would like us to believe that the middle income workers are at fault because it is a way of diverting the blame. Teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and union members and middle income workers continue to work and pay taxes and spend and put money into their local economies. Do you want them to stop working so that we can stop paying them? Do you continually want to decrease peoples income so that they cannot afford to live and work in our communites. Who will then protect us from harm, educate our children, intervene in dire emergencies. These are the union members you are accusing of plundering the piggy bank they paid into. We pay property taxes. Some of these taxes are earmarked for education. The county would like to take this money to balance the county's budget. You are okay with this? This is money the county is taking from our children's classroom and you are okay with this because someone else did something wrong?
shelly December 02, 2011 at 06:55 AM
Capo mom, The current board is made up of 4 former board members who imposed the contract and added the restorative language to the contract. The contract called for restoration of pay if more money than anticipated came to the district from the state. The state increased the ADA. Since the former board had signed the contract containing the trigger language the current board made up of 4 former board members and 3 new board members had to choose to either honor the contract the former board had signed or not honor the contract. The teachers received a partial paycut restoration (and our kids had more days of school restored) but the teachers still have taken an over 6% pay cut. It was not a total restoration of the pay cut. And in case you haven't been reading or you overlooked it. The teachers have agreed to go back to the table in case there are drastic budget cuts. The teachers are willing to help more. Are you?
Capo mom December 02, 2011 at 07:24 AM
shelly you are mis-informed, wrong. CUEA members are not working under the imposed contract, with a restoration clause. The current contract is different from the one the old board imposed in March. Ask any union rep what the basis the next contract will be negotiated from. It is not 10% less than 2008, it is not 6.5% less. They start from 2008 levels. Fire fighters, police officers, etc don't have access to CUSD's budget and reserves. Banks and corporations don't either. CUEA, through their puppet board, does. That was the whole point of their involvement in the last election. You ask whether I want them to stop work so we can stop paying them. The reality is many already have stopped working, but a number of them are still on the payroll. You can thank CUEA for that. You are sadly mistaken if you think that union members will "protect" you and your children from harm. Ask any one of them if they think that is in their job description. They don't even really have to educate our children as long as they pay their dues. I am willing to do more? I am willing to work to minimize the union's clout. This board has demonstrated that they are looking out only for their campaign donors, the unions. So why give a buck to wino. The county is asserting local control over the revenues they collect. Local control is good, right?
Flyonthwall December 02, 2011 at 04:05 PM
exhaustive dialogue.......ad infinitum .......ad nauseam..... etc
shelly December 02, 2011 at 04:48 PM
capo mom, The teachers did not plunder the reserves or the piggy bank. The economy tanked because of banks and corporations. People lost their jobs and their savings because of this. Unions had nothing to do with this. Taking our local property taxes that our earmarked for our schools and using them elsewhere is not using the money how we, the public want it to be. The county is taking money out of our children's classroom. The CUEA is made up of teachers trying to get the best work conditions and benefits. The teachers do their jobs educate our kids and keep our kids safe at school. Teachers are not rich. They are middle income workers. They are able to live in our community, pay taxes, raise families and contribute to our local economy because we pay them a living wage. We need an educated loyal work force willing to stay in our community and teach our children. CUSD has good safe schools and good teachers.
shelly December 02, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Capo mom, When you say,"CUEA, through their puppet board, does" who exactly is the puppet board. Four of the current trustees were on the former board and were not supported by the union, Who is the puppet board? Banks and corporations may not have direct access to the CUSD budget and reserves but they have directly caused it to dwindle because they destroyed our economy.
Penny Arévalo December 02, 2011 at 10:09 PM
Mr. Lowe, Chris Robinson did not direct any of his comments to any of the commentators here. Please do the same. I appreciate that Patch does bring together people of different ideologies to discuss the issues of our area and of our day. We have a good exchange when we focus on the issues at hand and not on each other. We certainly welcome readers from other Patches.
Penny Arévalo December 03, 2011 at 05:46 AM
No worries! Some people get pretty passionate here, but for the most part, we stick to the issues.


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