In Tulare County, a total of $76,255,431 was taken out of school-allocated property taxes to pay State obligations in 2010-2011. $66,109,172 was redirected to satisfy the State's VLF backfill obligation. $10,146,259 was redirected to pay for the State's 2004 Economic Recovery Bonds. This amount had grown to $79,903,347 in 2011-12 ($66,134,787 for VLF backfill and $13,768,560 for State Bond payments).
Source: State Controller's Office, Local Government Reporting Section. (City and county detail shown in the reports, totals upon request from the SCO.)
When the new Local Control Funding Formula was announced two years ago, Tulare had the second largest Local Control Funding Formula gap in the state – 83% under its per-student funding target. Yet, instead of funding its children's education, over half of all Tulare’s school-allocated property tax (in fact, 28% of all Tulare County property tax) is being diverted to fund the state’s unrelateddebts.
Tulare County’s entire $60 million Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund was redirected, along with over $15 million of property tax that had been directly allocated to its K-12 schools and $3 million that was supposed to fund its community colleges.
Was this $78 million diversion repaid in a timely manner? No.
The 2011-12 school year ended with over $200 million owed to Tulare K-12 school districts, over $150 million of which was official deferrals. Visalia Unified was owed over $45 million ($35 million in deferrals) and Porterville Unified over $26 million ($20 million in deferrals), while Dinuba Unified, Tulare City and Tulare Joint Union High all found themselves $10 million in the hole.
A year later, last June, the state’s $80 million diversion still remained unpaid: over $141 million was owed to the schools at the end of June 2013, $107 million of which was officially deferred.
This year, at least $69 million in deferred payments will still be owed Tulare K-12 schools when they close in June 2014 according to the First Principal Apportionment. This is expected to increase almost 50% with the Second Principal Apportionment later in the school year. Millions more will be owed to the community colleges in the Kern, Sequoias and State Center districts that serve Tulare County. Visalia Unified will see at least $14 million come in after the end of the year, and Porterville Unified over $8 million. Dinuba Unified, Tulare City and Tulare Joint Union High will all lend the state at least $3 million each, while the Tulare County Office of Education waits for $8 million.
Hopefully, this debt will be paid off by June 2015. But next time the state hits a financial bump, is it really right to force Tulare’s school children to absorb the shock?