Demystifying Sagebrush debate

C V Weekly, 7/10/14
by Mary O’Keefe

The Sagebrush debate continued at Tuesday’s Glendale Unified School District board of education meeting. Sagebrush is the far western portion of La Cañada Flintridge whose students attend GUSD schools. Some La Cañada residents have been working to get Sagebrush area students permanently transferred to La Cañada Unified School District.

There are many factors that are being discussed regarding the issue; however, during Tuesday’s meeting there was made mention of how complicated bonds and ADA (Average Daily Attendance) are to the general public.

Here is some information to clarify these issues:

In order to raise capital, municipalities like school districts often issue bonds. These bonds help finance specific projects, mostly pertaining to the infrastructure of the facility like remodeling or constructing new buildings, or purchasing or upgrading technology. Bond measures are a way for the agency, like a school district, to borrow money over time. Bonds have been compared to a mortgage for a school district. The district offers the bond measure to voters and, if approved, will sell the bond to investors with the promise to pay back with interest. The payments are made with a portion of the property tax money designated for the bond measure.

For about the last 40 years, this is one of the ways districts have been able to raise funds. The California State Supreme Court ruled that the differences in school funding due to wealth differences in districts violated the state constitution. A per-pupil entitlement financed by property tax revenue and state aid was put into place. The Average Daily Attendance, (ADA) allots a certain amount of funding for “students in the chairs” to each district.

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