Council Asked to Guarantee Schools at Least $5 Million in First Year of Sales Tax Sharing

Proposed Memorandum covering Measure J tax revenue sharing could be canceled after three years

Published : Friday, March 8, 2019 | 6:52 AM

Pasadena’s City Council will vote Monday whether to approve a Memorandum of Understanding on sharing sales tax revenue with Pasadena’s public schools which guarantees Pasadena Unified will get at least $5 million the first year.

The proposed Memorandum has a three-year term. After that, it would renew automatically but could be canceled.

Monday’s vote could finalize the mechanics of the revenue sharing which 72.05 percent of voters approved with last November’s passage of Measure J.

Pasadena Unified would receive a one-third share of the anticipated $21 million the City expects from the new ¾ cent municipal sales tax also approved by voters last year.

According to the proposal, the City would parcel out the revenue to the District each month beginning on July 1, 2019.

Payments would be made to the Los Angeles County Office of Education on behalf of the District, as opposed to paying the district directly.

Priorities for the District’s spending are described in the Memorandum.

According to the agreement,  “The District shall use the funds received pursuant to this MOU in the following priority order: Priority One, maintain an adequate level of reserves, as required by State law; Priority Two, restore and maintain existing educational programming that would otherwise face reduction/elimination, including, but not limited to, the following programmatic areas; International Baccalaureate, Dual-Language Immersion, Science/Technology/ Engineering/ Arts/Math (STEM/STEAM), Visual & Performing Arts and International Academy.”

As part of the District’s third priority, “For other District projects and programs that benefit students. no later than April 30 of each year, and commencing April 30, 2020, the District shall present a written report to the City, setting forth, with sufficient detail, (a) the specific amount of funds allocated to each of the three priority areas; and (b) a description of the particular use of funds; and (c) an expenditure plan for the coming Fiscal Year, based on the three priority areas (“Report and Plan”).”

The City Council approved the formation of an ad hoc committee last December, which included three members of the City Council and three members of the Board of Education. The ad hoc committee, consisting of Mayor Tomek and Councilmembers Hampton and McAustin, School Board President Torres and Board Members Cahalan and Kenne, met on December 19th, February 19th, and in two informal meetings that included the Mayor and staff from the City and School District.

Then the full City Council and the School Board discussed the details in a joint meeting at City Hall on Monday, March 4.

Among the issues most strenuously discussed between the District and the Council were the issues of the Pasadena Unified using the new revenues to shore up its reserves, as opposed to paying for new programs, and whether or not any of the new revenue, would be shared with Pasadena charter schools, which it will not be.

The school district may still opt to use the revenues to fund charter schools, according to the discussions.

According to the Memorandum, the agreement allows the Pasadena Unified to “reinvest existing funds and the funds from this MOU” to:

(a) accomplish the District priorities set forth herein;

(b) support initiatives by the District, which benefits the health, safety, and welfare of families of students in the District, as well as Pasadena residents generally, which benefit from the successful operation of schools by the District, by way of, among other means, increased property values;

(c) lower crime rates, reducing the need for City services,

(d) enable the District to reinvest and enhance its facilities that can, in turn: be a part of future joint use arrangements between the City and the District,

(e) further the City’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, by increasing collaboration between the City and the District, and developing a thriving Pasadena public school system; and

(f) improve the quality of life in the City of Pasadena.

The Memorandum allows that “either party may terminate the agreement, with not less than thirty (30) days before the end of the then-current term.”

The City Council is scheduled to consider the agreement during Monday’s Council meeting. The meeting’s public session starts at 6:30 p.m. at Pasadena City Hall, 100 North Garfield Avenue.

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