RICHMOND -- Trustees for the West Contra Costa school district celebrated the passage of Proposition 30 as well as a local parcel tax and a school construction bond Wednesday night.
Nonetheless, the election success did nothing to stem the need to draw down the district's $13.5 million rainy day fund, according to a report presented by associate superintendent Sheri Gamba.
West Contra Costa is on track to spend $2.8 million out of the rainy day fund during the current school year, $3.8 million in 2013-14 and $6.8 million in 2014-15, leaving $100,000 in the fund on June 30, 2015, if nothing changes.
Proposition 30 eliminated the need for $12 million in so-called trigger cuts to the district's $166.6 million budget this year, but it did not solve the larger problem of inadequate state funding, board member Tony Thurmond said.
Proposition 30 "just staved off financial devastation," Thurmond said.
The parcel tax, Measure G, is a five-year extension of an existing tax that will take effect when that tax expires June 30. Measure G funds are earmarked for libraries, athletics, counseling and other services.
Board President Charles Ramsey said he was heartened by the strong showing of Measure G and Measure E, the school bond that will be used to rebuild and repair a final group of elementary schools and a middle school that have not been upgraded.
He said the board wisely resisted pressure not to put two tax measures on the same ballot as Propositions 30 and 38, a competing statewide tax increase proposal for schools that was rejected by voters.
Board members said they held out hope for relief from a potential Democratic supermajority in the state Legislature that could direct more money their way.
"We stayed with our call to action" about the parcel tax and bond, Ramsey said. "Sacramento can pull us back from the fiscal cliff."
Gamba said she will come back with a revised financial picture in December with an eye on changes to retiree health care costs. The district has shaved about $536 million off its health care liability for retired employees since 2004 but still has about $364 million in liability on the books.
In other action, the district recognized the schools and teachers that will benefit from an annual $35,000 minigrant program.
The grants will be used for supply and equipment purchases, field trips and special educational units, including a social studies unit about Richmond during World War II to be offered at Richmond High School.
The board also received an update about the district's efforts to fulfill state requirements for Common Core Standards and educational assessment, to identify what students should know and be able to do by grade level.
The state Department of Education is requiring districts to have the standards in place by the 2014-15 school year.
West Contra Costa is looking for creative ways of meeting the standards. For example, a mathematics team is working on teaching problem solving where students are encouraged to look for multiple ways of modeling solutions instead of seeking a single correct answer.
Board members appeared impressed with the progress of the program but also emphasized the importance of informing parents and the community about the changes that are coming.
"After struggling to help my fourth grader with math homework, I would like to know that we need to look for more than one answer to a problem," Thurmond said.