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March 19, 2014

Merced County board hears encouraging report on educational finances

Prop. 30 brought $63 million to area’s school districts

At their monthly business meeting this week, Merced County Board of Education members received some encouraging news about educational financing.

Board members at the Monday afternoon session were told that voter passage of Proposition 30 in November 2012 resulted in the county’s 20 school districts receiving about $63 million from the state, up about 15 percent over previous levels.

Steve Gomes, county superintendent of schools, said without passage of Proposition 30, all school districts would be in deep trouble. From the 2012-13 to the 2013-14 school year, revenues went up about $40 million.

Gomes said this is one of the first years when state revenues are above predictions, which is good. By the end of the year, the state’s deferrals of what is owed to local school districts should be made up.

“I’m always cautiously optimistic,” Gomes said. “This is the first year we’ve had the money. Things are a lot better. Ninety-eight percent of the Proposition 30 money is used on instruction; about $445 million was spent in 2013-2014 by local school districts.”

The state’s voters approved Proposition 30 by a 55-45 percent margin. It added a quarter percent to the state sales tax through December 2016 and increased personal income taxes for Californians making more than $250,000 a year.

Trustee Fred Honore said Proposition 30 has helped local school districts, and the school financing situation is looking better.

In other business, the county board approved a revised agreement for Gomes’ salary. There were no money changes for the superintendent but the agreement’s wording was changed to show Gomes does not have a travel or cellphone stipend.

Gomes earns $180,543 a year. He is on the fourth step of a five-year salary schedule.

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