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How Eagle Rock High is Starving—and why Prop. 30 is the Answer to its Woes

An ERHS teacher who serves on the Neighborhood Council has never seen it this bad at Eagle Rock’s premier school.

This article, the first in an intended series on education in Eagle Rock, is written by Stephan Early, the immediate past president of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and an English teacher at Eagle Rock High School for the past 30 years.

At the most recent meeting of the in Eagle Rock City Hall on Aug. 14, I ended the seemingly never-ending dialogue about marijuana to mention to our Councilman, that has not been in such dire straits in all the time he has known Eagle Rock over the past 16 or 17 years.

It was the day that the high school had opened after the summer break, and Caroline Ward Roncalli, a new member of the Council who has graciously stepped in as Youth Director, smoothly spoke up and said to the Councilman that she had one class, Advance Placement Psychology, which had so many students in it—61 to be precise—that she had felt it necessary to sit on the floor.

It is believed that the AP class Roncalli mentioned has been modified in size, but classes at Eagle Rock High are very large nonetheless. American Literature/Contemporary Composition classes, which had in prior years been limited to 20 students, are now routinely, doubled—40 to 45 students in a class is not unusual. Senior English classes, now referred to as Language Arts classes, have 45 to 52 students.

The Councilman, who served on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education a number of years ago, was immediately attentive. He shared with the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council that he had thought a while back that the District was on its way to going broke.

I suggested to Mr. Huizar that a show of support from the City Council for Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 ballot measure might be appropriate because it would alleviate some of the distress caused by budget cuts throughout the state.

If Proposition 30 succeeds, it would:

  • Raise California’s sales tax to 7.5 percent from 7.25 percent—a 3.45-percent increase over current law. (Under the Brown Tax Hike, the sales tax would have increased to 7.75 percent.)
  • Create three new high-income tax brackets for taxpayers who have taxable incomes exceeding $250,000, $300,000, and $500,000. This increased tax would be in effect for seven years.
  • Impose a 10.3-percent tax rate on taxable income in excess of $250,000 but less than $300,000—a percentage increase of 9.71 over current policy. The 10.3-percent income tax rate is currently only paid by taxpayers who have more than $1 million in taxable income.
  • Impose an 11.3-percent tax rate on taxable income in excess of $300,000 but less than $500,000—a percentage increase of 17.7 percent over current policy.
  • Impose a 12.3-percent tax rate on taxable income in excess of $500,000—a percentage increase of 24.39 over current policy.

Based on California Franchise Tax Board data for 2009, the additional income tax accruing from Prop. 30 will only be imposed on the top 3 percent of California taxpayers. Estimated revenues vary from Gov. Brown’s $9 billion estimate to $6.8 billion estimated by the non-partisan Legislative Analysts Office.  

The Councilman, always attentive to the needs of Eagle Rock and his constituents, suggested that the City Council would be making a recommendation and that the ERNC may want to submit a letter endorsing Prop 30.

I will be asking that this be considered at the next Executive Board meeting, scheduled on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at . If the proposal gets on the ERNC agenda, then it will be discussed at the next ERNC regular meeting the following Tuesday, Sept. 4.

All opinions on Prop. 30 and any other subject pertinent to Eagle Rock are welcome, as always, at all of the ERNC’s meetings. The Council hopes to see more and more constituents attending and speaking up, not least because there are always two sides to any issue.

Finally, the state of our public schools affects all Eagle Rock residents—whether or not their children attend them. The state of local schools is, after all, a big determinant of home values.

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of articles by me on education in Eagle Rock, and the function of the Neighborhood Council.

Soquel Creek August 27, 2012 at 03:11 PM
With Proposition 30, Governor Brown is saying, "The tax increases will continue until tax revenues improve." QUESTION: Are California's taxes too low compared to the other 49 United States? CHART: California State Income Tax Rates and Proposition 30 Increases Compared to the MAXIMUM Tax Rate in 49 Other States http://www.twitpic.com/a68drw/full CHART: California State Sales Tax Rate and Proposition 30 Increases Compared to the State Sales Tax Rate in 49 Other States http://www.twitpic.com/a68e2d/full QUESTION: Do California's high taxes affect the tax-generating private-sector economy? CHART: California ranks 'F', primarily for "Tax Code" on United States Small Business Friendliness survey http://www.twitpic.com/9ivi6g/full CHART: California has the has the nation's 3rd worst business tax climate http://www.twitpic.com/8ntrwn/full CHART: California was ranked #46 for small business survival http://www.twitpic.com/7mp1zu/full QUESTION: With high taxes and a poor business climate, how does California's unemployment rate compare to the other 49 states? CHART: California Unemployment Rate Compared to 49 Other States http://www.twitpic.com/aepkk8/full Governor Brown's Proposition 30 is the WRONG solution for the problems affecting California. VOTE NO on PROPOSITION 30. http://soquelbythecreek.blogspot.com/2012/07/california-proposition-30-governor.html
nonoise August 27, 2012 at 03:29 PM
No new taxes. Period. No new taxes on property owners. No new taxes period. Tell the schools to stop wasting money and cut down on pension funds. Get rid of the waste, administors and paper pushers and those employees that sit around and do nothing.
Cherryl Weaver August 27, 2012 at 04:52 PM
It is my opinion that a comprehensive study and audit needs to be done for the entire LAUSD. Cut the waist, streamline administration, put more Teachers in the class rooms and focus more of the spending on the students and less on policy and administration. It would be great if Wendy Gruell and her department were allowed to audit LAUSD.
John Goldfarb August 27, 2012 at 04:53 PM
YES on 30, let's try to throw a lifeline to our schools, however inadequate it may be. Any homeowners out there who care about their property values?
K Ivan August 27, 2012 at 05:46 PM
The money for that construction that has been going on all summer until present has gone to construct what? improved classrooms? or prettier trees to look at? Shoulda gone to classrooms instead...
ERHS Moms August 27, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Who can force LAUSD to submit to an independent audit? It would be fantastic and is most necessary, but somehow they always escape that. It seems that that has been a sought after topic for the last 30 years. They consistently spend money where it is not needed most, as in they spend it on nearly everything but kids. Their corruption is paramount and they are overloaded with persons assigned to make sure that the status quo does not change. Their classrooms are overloaded yet they still want to purchase some new evaluation program to still blame the teachers. It is on such a large scale that it nearly seems impossible. Just take ERHS. They have had a dictatorial incompetent principal who goes out of his way to make his staff miserable, doesn't keep his word, routinely harasses people, lies right and left, disobeys contracts, disregards ethical codes already in place and STILL the district does nothing! They have had him in place for years and sit by as they watch him systematically destroy one sports program after another, the counseling staff, teachers & the list goes on. Eagle Rock needs to ban together and demand more for our tax dollars. Our kids are entitled to much more than they are getting and we should not sit meekly by while Sal Velasco dismantles our school. It is time for all of us to ban together - teachers and parents together.
OmarA. G August 27, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I think LAUSD should do a better job of checking the addresses of all the kids attending school in Eagle Rock, It's a known fact that kids from Highland Park and Cypress Park attend all the schools in Eagle Rock in order to get out of their part of town at least for school, I totally can understand their reasoning for this but the kids that lose out are the ones that actually live in Eagle Rock and now have to deal with over crowding. Another LAUSD loop hole.
Mr. jepg August 27, 2012 at 07:21 PM
More taxes, in an over taxed state is not the answer. lets just look back at 8 years ago to see how LA city and LAUSD squandered a boon of revenue. back in 2004 house prices were on the rise. so in turn, so was the property tax revenue - most of which goes to the city. how did they use that tidal wave of money - who knows? one thing I am sure we all know - they didn't use it very effectively. so what makes us think more money will help this time. fix the problem - which is LAUSD. blow it up, reorganize and streamline it much like Cherryl says. @ERHS mom - you know who has the power to make LAUSD submit to an independent audit, the mayor and/or the city council. All they have to do is declare the LAUSD un-fit and an emergency - which we all know it is. pretty sure that would give the mayor power over LAUSD. unfortunately our mayor lacks the courage to do something meaningful to reform the worst school district in the industrialized world. LAUSD is a embarrassment and anyone involved with it should be ashamed and screaming for change.
Kathy August 27, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Yes, I care about property values. And I'm disgusted at politicians who want to use property owners as ATMs to support their garbage. The schools are filled with either illegals or anchor babies. Anyone who can possibly get their kids out of LAUSD puts them in private schools to escape the bottom level of education provided by LAUSD.
mark August 27, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Maybe we should do away with Prop 13. Seems like this is what is really causing the problem. Wealthy land owners and corporations are not paying there fair share of property taxes, at the cost of education. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_13_(1978)
Stephan Early August 27, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Eagle Rock High School is consistently ranked as one of the best High Schools in the Country by US News and World Report and Newsweek. Eagle Rock High School has the best student body in the country and it is a pleasure to teach there because of them. They deserve smaller classes and more electives.
Soquel Creek August 28, 2012 at 04:26 AM
And yet, despite nearly 2-to-1 majorities in BOTH Houses of the California Legislature and holding EVERY major state-wide elected office, Governor Jerry Brown and the Democrats have not even mentioned reforms for Proposition 13.
John Goldfarb August 28, 2012 at 04:36 AM
I'm sure Eagle Rock is a fine high school, but this year it was ranked 825th in the country and 157th in California by U.S. News and World Report, and was not included in the list of Newsweek/The Daily Beast's 1000 top U.S. high schools. Nevertheless, it's not going to improve unless we feed it some tax revenue. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/05/20/america-s-best-high-schools.html http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/california/districts/los-angeles-unified-school-district/eagle-rock-high-school-2526
Tim Ryder August 28, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Maybe we should abolish the Property tax altogether so we can stop arguing about Prop.13 already.
Tim Ryder August 28, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Thanks Stephen, I went to ERHS and those were the best learning years of my life. I don't remember a whole lot but the teachers were really cool and I acquired many close friendships which have lasted to this day. Another solution to get more money to our schools until the economy improves would be to earmark a portion of medical marijuana taxes to that purpose. Of course, if Jose Huizar succeeds in shutting the dispensaries down and sending the industry back into the Black Market those billions of dollars in tax revenue will disappear overnight into the pockets of the drug gangs and other shady characters operating in the dark shadows of our society
mark August 28, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I suppose abolishing property taxes would make more sense than keeping Prop 13 in place the way it is. If you don't believe me listen to Warren Buffett. http://www.wealthandwant.com/docs/Buffett_Prop13.html Prop 13 is nothing more than a tool to shield the 1% from paying their fair share of property taxes. Thus it will never be overturned.
Michael Larsen August 28, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Where ARE those "billions of dollars in tax revenue" from the pot stores?
nonoise August 28, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Mark, most people under prop 13 are senior citizens who have lived in their homes many years. They are on limitied incomes with only social security. It would make these senior citizens and other low income people homeless to take away prop 13. Anytime a property is sold the new owner has to pay full property tax. Prop 13 helps the 99% not the 1%. I have no idea where you get your information from. And, many low income and middle income people that are not under prop 13 have a hard time paying their full property taxes and now you want them to pay more? No more taxes, property taxes or otherwise.
mark August 28, 2012 at 08:10 PM
OMG! Where are you getting your facts? Really? I would like to know. Do you really think that senior citizens are the ones who own all the property in California? Living off social security? Corporations are able to avoid property tax reassessment limiting ownership percentages and what not. Not to mention people like Warren Buffet paying less for his $4,000,000 mansion than I pay for my 1000sf <$400k house in ER. I'm all for shielding people on a limited budget from excessive increases in property tax, but I really don't think Prop 13 has been effective in doing that. It has been 100% effective though in shielding the 99% from paying their fair share in property tax.
nonoise August 28, 2012 at 11:48 PM
If you get rid of prop 13 then how will you shield those senior citizens and low income and middle income people from the property increase? Do you know if Buffet owns the same home he did before 1978? I would bet he not still in he same home. Do you know his address?
mark August 29, 2012 at 03:36 AM
All I know about Warren Buffet and his property holdings is that which I've googled. Takes ten minutes. Try it. Seems like it'd be pretty easy to allow people with low incomes to submit their fed tax forms along with their property tax filings. Heck let the county assessor keep track, they'll have time to do it now that they don't have to keep track of all the bribes they've gotten. .

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