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San Bernardino

San Bernardino has the lowest actual allocation of property tax to education of any of the 15 largest counties -- just 16%, or half the statewide average.  Property tax allocations to individual school and community college districts are only 21% after redevelopment debt service is removed, but taking $130 million OUT of the base allocation to K-12 schools, then another $21 million OUT of direct community college-district property tax allocations, leaves San Bernardino schools dependent upon the state for 84% of their funding.  Anything that destabilizes the state's ability to fully fund its contribution to the schools is particularly devastating to San Bernardino County districts.


The chart below shows San Bernardino K-12 districts and the percentage of Total Revenues that arrived after the end of the 2011-12 school year.  As is typical, unified districts with a larger high-needs population tended to see a larger percentage of their revenues come in late.  Districts like Bear Valley and Rim of the World have high remaining property-tax per student allocations (over $4,000 and $3,400 per student respectively, compared with $1,000 for the county as a whole) so even after a large diversion to satisfy the state's debts ($1,500 and $1,300, compared with $350 for the county on average), their state aid wasn't overwhelming, hence the deferrals were less disruptive on average.

San Bernardino's Auditor-Controller illustrates the change in tax allocation as a result of the VLF Swap in the annual Tax Rate Books.  Here's the one from 2012-13 showing the allocation to School Districts: 41% before the VLF diversion, then what remains: 16% after the VLF diversion.

In San Bernardino County, a total of $398,324,384 was taken out of school-allocated property taxes to pay State obligations in 2010-2011.  $335,934,401 was redirected to satisfy the State's VLF backfill obligation.  $62,389,983 was redirected to pay for the State's 2004 Economic Recovery Bonds.  This amount shrank slightly in 2011-12, to $392,240,321.


Source:  State Controller's Office, Local Government Reporting Section.  (City and county detail shown in the reports, totals upon request from the SCO.)

The recent First Principal Apportionment details the first $259,054,186 of state payments to San Bernardino's K-12 school districts that will be deferred this year.  About 50% more will be added in the Second Principal Apportionment.  On top of the $25 million in deferrals that San Bernardino community college districts are expecting, it is reasonable to estimate that none of the state's $390 million diversion of San Bernardino school property taxes this year will actually be repaid this year. 


Source:  Principal Apportionments, Monthly Payment Schedule Summaries, California Department of Education.

A Local City Example of Popular Misinformation


An article three years ago in the Hesperia Star illustrates the misinformation that is circulated by counties, cities and the press:

Where do your property taxes go?

Their graphic (below) suggests that over 50% of their local property taxes go to education -- 58%, if you read the detail.  In fact, only 24% does. 


20% goes to Hesperia Unified, 1% to the County Office of Education, and 3% to Victor Valley Community College District. The rest of the 34% goes to satisfy the Triple Flip and Vehicle License Fee Swap, namely to the City of Hesperia and San Bernardino County -- and the Hesperia Redevelopment agency, which wasn't listed at all.


Here are the instructions to check our conclusions -- but you can also use them to take a look at your San Bernardino School District.  (The Community College and County Office of Education data is roughly right across the county.)


First, go to the San Bernardino County website at:


And pull up the Tax Rate and Revenue Report (PI215). There you can find the Assessed Values (Secured and Unsecured) for Hesperia Unified. In 2011-12, the total was $2.7 billion, for a 1% tax bill of $27 million.


Now, go to, and look up Hesperia Unified's secured and unsecured property tax receipts. They were $8.6 million -- which appears to be 32%! -- except then you'll see the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund then TAKES $3.2 million out. So, the net is $5.4 million, or 20%.


Another 1% goes for the County Office of Education (you can figure that out using the same sources -- and double-check same against the budgets of both districts).


For completeness, include Victor Valley Community College -- instead of Ed-data, go to the Community College Chancellor's website:


And check out Victor Valley's San Bernardino contribution under 4/15/2012 (that's the final for the 2011-12 school year). Same idea: $11.2 million allocated, $4.1 million taken away - net 3%.

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