What many in our community have found out since progressive majorities were put onto the local city council and school board, is that even if candidates can pass local litmus-tests on political and social issues, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee those candidates will make good financial stewards for our city or school district.
In this election, though, voters have the chance to review the past record of one such school board member: Kelly Kent. Dr Kent has been on the board for the past five years, during which, she has overseen district-wide compensations rise 34%; and while our district reserves plummeted to some of the lowest levels in district history.
Like Money Growing on Trees
Even after receiving an additional $25.6M in state funding since the start of the LCFF program, the district still has found ways to spend more than it receives for each of the past six years, many of those years ended with multi-million dollar deficits.
So when the board members realized that the district’s piggy-bank couldn’t keep up with their spending, Dr Kent lead a district committee in 2018 to ask the community to bail them out with a 7-year, $189 parcel tax totaling over $16 million dollars-the largest parcel tax ever passed by our small community.
Still in Deficit Mode
But, if you were to scrutinize last year’s board-approved, pre-pandemic district budget–even with our new tax contribution of $2.3M–you would find that the district was still going to run another multi-million dollar deficit.
In fact, the district now it finds itself in the grips of two different types of deficits. The latest one, a national and state-wide cyclical deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and secondly, the board’s own continuing structural deficit caused by years of fiscal mismanagement.
I don’t agree with many of Dr Kent’s progressive views on education. But that is not why I think she should not be re-elected. It is her inability to oversee and balance a district budget and to keep our school district finances on firm ground. Fiscally, it seems she just doesn’t get it or has what it takes to be a complete and effective governing board member.
Lacking Peer Support
I’m not the only one that doesn’t want to see her re-elected. Out of her four fellow board members, there is only one that is listed on her campaign website as supporting her campaign. To me, that speaks volumes.
Bringing Our District Back
To show how badly our district has been mismanaged over these past five or six years; by my figures, it probably would take passing a new perpetual, annual tax of well over a $1,000 per parcel to bring our district back from its long-term structural deficit brought on by the many years of board fiscal mismanagement.
— George Laase
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