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State Sues Over School Money Grab

The state is seeking to stop Orange County from withholding $73.5 million in funding from K-12 and community college districts.

The state of California has sued Orange County for withholding property tax money it was going to give local schools.

Late last year, the county Board of Supervisors , basically telling them not to worry about it, the state would make them whole eventually.

For , the move  to . 

The county had been haggling with the state for years over property tax and vehicle license fees funds. In looking for a way to make up a $49.5-million budget hole and stave off layoffs scheduled for December, the county supervisors found their answer in the schools’ moneypot.

After , the state sued the county Thursday to stop what school officials call a “money grab” and what the state calls an “extraordinary step of flouting the law,” according to the lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court.

The lawsuit says the county violated both state law and the state Constitution in diverting money from the so-called “education revenue augmentation fund.” 

While the lawsuit acknowledges the state is obligated to “backfill” the owed moneys to K-12 school districts, no such obligation exists for community college districts, which are facing a $12-15 million shortfall because of the county maneuvering.

The state also argues that the state’s obligation to make the K-12 districts whole is designed to help schools when, in the normal ebb and flow of the economy, property taxes do not meet projections. The state should not be required to pay for the county’s “illegal manipulation” of its fiscal affairs.

“The county of Orange should not be rewarded for its refusal to follow the law,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction stopping the county in its tracks.

The Orange County Department of Education is also contemplating its own lawsuit and has asked the affected school districts to join its efforts. At the last Board of Trustees meeting, the CUSD trustees voted to spend $5,000 to help out the county.

“If there’s litigation, it’s important for us to be able to respond quickly rather than to try to hire lawyers,” interim Deputy Superintendent of Business and Support Services Robyn Phillips said at the time.

cusd mom April 12, 2012 at 02:22 AM
I totally agree with Capo Parent about the racial confrontations occurring at CVHS. It's a dirty little secret that the district doesn't want to talk about. Shelly certainly wouldn't know about it because I believe her kids attend San Juan Hills, which is the school many of the Hispanic kids currently attending CVHS should be attending, but are not due to the gerrymandering tactics of the district office.
shelly April 12, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Capo Parent, You stated, "In fact, we all brought down the economy " so whose responsibility is it to fix it if we all, in fact, brought down the economy?
shelly April 12, 2012 at 03:06 AM
cusd mom, Why is it a dirty little secret? Is there something wrong with the children of the Village which is about 1 mile from CVHS and the children from north SJC? These kids are from all ethnicities, Mexican American, Peruvian American, Guatamalian American, Columbia American, etc. and they are wonderful and diverse and individuals! CVHS student population is 28% Hispanic and SJHHS is 37% Hispanic. Are you saying the racial confrontations are all one sided and come from the Hispanics? I am not understanding what your point is? The building of the administration building and new high school were just blips on people's radar until the boundaries for the new high school were announced? Why? Why are some people so upset about this? The children of San Juan Capistrano are a wonderful children with diverse ethnicities and both schools are lucky to have these children as students.
cusd mom April 13, 2012 at 04:09 AM
I'll answer your question, Shelly. There is nothing wrong with the kids fron the Village. However, there are others from SJC who attended Marco Forester, who I believe live near the mission area, who were not boundaried to SJ Hills like the rest of their classmates and were sent to Capo Valley HS instead. They were sent there because Fleming did not want SJ HIlls to be too HIspanic. If these children are so wonderful, why were they not allowed to attend the same high school with the rest of their classmates from Marco?
MFriedrich April 13, 2012 at 06:20 AM
More cuts in public education in OC are on the way. I doubt that parents here even recognize the fact that most of their "great" OC schools in CUSD and Saddleback feature makeshift manufactured buildings with crappy AC systems as the main classrooms. Visit an elementary, middle and high school in the midwest sometime - like Iowa, Minnesota or Wisconsin. They add on to their school structures properly and plan appropriately for population growth and community expansion. Every single school I've been to in Lake Forest has these dinky, mobile home-like buildings serving as major classroom settings. It's a disgrace. That's just one damning example of how for every $1.00 in tax money allocated to education in CA, probably less than $0.05 is hitting the student and their day-to-day educational environment to succeed. I'm fine with paying very attractive salaries and benefits for solid, performing teachers. But it should be easier than it is today to fire non-performers. With higher salaries and benefits payed on the front end, I think it's fair to expect teachers to fund their own damned retirement (or play the roulette wheel) just like everybody else. All of this back-end benefits fluff is unnecessary, wasteful and, more importantly, unsustainable.

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