Culver City Observer -

By Neil Rubenstein
Observer Columnist 

School Board Facing Financial Crisis



August 9, 2018

The Culver City Unified School District’s annual contributions to CalSTRS and CalPERS, two of the state's largest public-employee pension funds, were expected to rise 215 percent by the year 2020-21.

But, under this Board’s fiscal leadership, they have gone up more than 446 percent--just in the last four years.

The unexpected huge increase is the result of the Board's continued unrealistic hiring practices and giving unwise, unsustainable salary raises along with their approved increases in district-paid medical benefits.

In the fiscal year 2012-13, the District’s pension costs were $2.2 million. In 2016-17 they more than doubled, to almost $4.5 million.

Looking at the District’s 2018-19 budget—just passed last June--you would see that it expects to receive about $74.1 million in total revenues. This is an additional $4.08 million in funding from the previous year.

But, by digging a little deeper, you will see that payroll and pension contributions for staffers will be roughly $71.7 million, or already 96.8% of the budget. That would leave only $2.4 million left to run the District and pay for everything else that might come up during the school year.

And that doesn’t even account for the District’s raising health and welfare costs, which last year totaled nearly $3.2 million.

So, after paying all of the employees in the District, all of the agency's revenue--and even after receiving a $4.8-million increase in funding--the Board's budget starts in an $800.000 hole.

As my Aunt Clara used to say when she would run short at the end of the month, “Something ain’t right here.”

Reaching Out to Jailbird Voters

Officials in Los Angeles County, mindful that many county jail inmates and probationers have the right to vote, have approved the creation of a task force to register as many of those voters as possible in advance of the November election.

Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl co-authored the motion, saying that they are determined to counter misinformation that suggests those in jail cannot vote.

There is "still rampant misconception about voters ‘rights,” Ridley-Thomas said.

California residents who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old are eligible to vote by mail from jail even if they are awaiting trial on any charge or convicted of a misdemeanor.

Probationers are also eligible to vote, whether in or out of jail.

Inmates in state prison for a felony conviction or on parole from prison are not eligible to vote, including those in county jail on a parole violation or awaiting transfer to prison.

When released from jail, residents must re-register to vote.

This commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Observer. Previous columns by Neil Rubenstein can be found at


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