May 26, 2010

Measure A, the parcel tax to fund local schools was trailing at the polls, Tuesday night, forcing education advocates to consider the possibility that Santa Monica and Malibu schools will be forced to make dramatic cuts to core academic programs in the coming school year.
The local school funding measure would help Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District close a budget shortfall caused by unprecedented State cuts. Under California law, it requires a 2/3rds majority to pass. 
 “I know that parents and students and thousands of Santa Monica and Malibu supporters are anxiously awaiting the count of the remaining votes. While it is clear that the vast majority of voters were willing to invest more in our schools, the 2/3rd vote requirement looks unreachable at this moment. It is a painful loss for our students and for our community,” said Rochelle Fanali, co-chair of the Measure A campaign. “Despite the loss, we are a community committed to keeping quality public schools a top priority, and we will find another way.”
The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters has until June 6 to verify and count all outstanding ballots before a final result can be certified.
“The stakes are very high for our schools, our students and our community,” said Shari Davis, president of the Santa Monica-Malibu PTA Council. “Whatever the outcome of Measure A, our commitment to our schools and our students must continue. They deserve nothing less.”
“We couldn’t be more grateful to the many volunteers who truly made this a community-wide grass roots effort,” said Fanali.
Measure A brought together one of the largest volunteer efforts ever mustered in a Santa Monica election, with more than 1,000 parents, students, teachers, administrators and concerned residents knocking on doors and making phone calls on behalf of the campaign.
Its official endorsers numbered nearly as many, including most local organizations such as the Santa Monica-Malibu Teachers Association and PTAs, the Santa Monica and Malibu City Councils, SMRR, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, and many neighborhood groups to name just a few of the organizations supporting Measure A.
“The next few weeks will be very difficult for everyone as we consider deep and painful cuts,” said SMMUSD Superintendent Tim Cuneo. “It is important for everyone in our school community and our greater community to know that we are committed to providing every student with the very best education possible.  We will be working very hard to live up to that mandate, despite constraints put on us by the State,” Cuneo said.
“In any other state, a 63% majority vote would have signaled an overwhelming victory.  California is one of the few states that requires a 2/3rds supermajority for passage of a local school funding measure,” said Harry M. Keiley, president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association. “We are so grateful to our community for their support and are certain that we will soon find a way to work together to help protect students and teachers in all our schools from devastating class size increases and program elimination.”
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