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Santa Clara

Ten percent of Santa Clara County property taxes are diverted each year to pay the state's obligations. These taxes are removed from the property-tax revenues that would normally go to fund the least wealthy schools.  (Basic-aid districts like Palo Alto Unified, Los Gatos, Los Altos, and Saratoga Elementaries, and Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High are unaffected.)


Santa Clara County as a whole is quite fortunate in that 75% of this diversion is repaid by the end of each school year, compared with less than 30% for the average county.  Individual school districts, however, might feel differently.  $68 million of deferrals have already been announced for this school year (2013-14) with about 50% more expected in the Second Principal Apportionment in June. 


East Side Union High already knows not to expect $9 million in this year's funding until next year, as does San Jose Unified.  Alum Rock Union Elementary is figuring out how to handle $6 million in deferred funding, while the County Office of Education will wait for $7 million.  Gilroy Unified, Franklin-McKinley Elementary, Evergreen Elementary, Milpitas Unified, Mount Pleasant and Cupertino Union Elementary are also shuffling at least $2 million of the state's debts through their accounts, while Oak Grove Elementary is dealing with a $5 million shortfall.  Unsurprisingly, these are many of the districts with the highest Low Income and English Learner concentrations in the county.



In Santa Clara County, a total of  $373,188,603  was taken out of school-allocated property taxes to pay State obligations in 2010-2011.   $297,132,290 was redirected to satisfy the State's VLF backfill obligation.   $76,056,313 was redirected to pay for the State's 2004 Economic Recovery Bonds. 


In 2011-12, the diversion grew to $384,621,309 ($300 million to backfill VLF and $85 million to fund the Bonds).


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



Santa Clara County schools did not receive $104,716,407 of their state funding until after the 2010-11 school year was over.  The delayed payments grew to $118,343,573 for the 2011-12 school year, before declining (thanks to Prop 30) to $72,722,394 this past summer.  Already $68,157,986 have been announced for this June, which will increase to about $100 million based on deferrals already in statute.


Source:  Funding Excel Files - First and Second Principal Apportionments from the California Dept. of Education.



Santa Clara is an interesting county analytically as different school districts have dramatically different allocations of property tax.  (Most counties are more uniform.)  Thus the diagram shown on the Santa Clara Auditor-Controller's website (below) is accurate on average (and does shows the 1-in-10 property tax dollars going to satisfy the state's obligations out of school-allocated revenues).  However, reality for any K-12 school district in the county may be quite different. 


Gilroy Unified:              53+3% = 56%
Milpitas Unified:            34+3% = 37%
Morgan Hill Unified:       40+3% = 43%
Palo Alto Unified:         45+3% = 48%
San Jose Unified:         45+3% = 48%
Santa Clara Unified:     27+3% = 30% 


And those areas that consist of a high-school district plus multiple elementary districts: 

Los Gatos-Saratoga:     43+3%=46%
Los Altos-Mtn View:     32+3%=35%
Campbell:                    45+3%=48%
East Side:                   41+3%=44%
Fremont:                     42+3%=45% 


Many of these districts meet their per-pupil targets from just property tax (so-called basic-aid districts, shown in italics).  However, that's bad news for the remaining districts, since the moment they need any state aid, all their local property tax allocation is available to be redirected to meet the state's obligations.

From the Santa Clara Auditor-Controller's website, 27 October 2013.

Thus, while only 4% of Santa Clara school districts' overall budget arrived late from the state in 2011-12, the wealthier districts saw less than 1% arrive after the end of the school year, while Alum Rock Union Elementary, East Side Union High, Franklin-McKinley Elementary, Luther Burbank Elementary, and Oak Grove Elementary saw 10% or more paid after the last child had left.  Mt. Pleasant Elementary shows 46% arriving in arrears, but that is probably due to some extraordinary circumstance.  (Research it, and let us know!)


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