Karen Maloney is one many people involved in the Novato Unified School District and the public school community who were relieved to see Proposition 30 pass at the polls Tuesday night.
As the chief financial officer of school district, Maloney and other staffers spent countless hours preparing for a doomsday scenario, a shock-and-awe budget-slashing bloodbath that would be required of so many districts of voters had not rallied to support Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative.
"Just a week ago the polls were saying it wouldn't pass," Maloney said. "I am breathing a little easier this morning."
So is Aaron Fix, president of the Novato Federation of Teachers.
"Obviously we're very pleased," said Fix, whose group represents 416 teachers. "I agree with what the president of the San Francisco (teachers) union said, which was that it's a lifeline to the schools but it's not the answer to all of our problems. It's going to prevent us from having to do what we wanted to avoid. ...
"The district budgeted for Prop. 30 to fail, so as far as I'm concerned there is now a buffer zone that says we don't have to cut teachers and cut back on school days."
Maloney said NUSD annually loses 20 percent of its state funding that it is due, amounting to $40 million over a five-year period. Through the district's budget advisory committee, which was set up earlier this year, all the "low-hanging fruit" has already been plucked, she said. Had Prop. 30 not passed, it would have meant $3.3 million in mid-year cuts. Options are few because 89 percent of NUSD's budget is spent on personnel. Since August the staff has worked with budget advisory committee members to gather data and prepare for the worst, she added.
"It's very encouraging that voters of the California supported education with a 54-percent yes vote and that it was 68 percent approval in Marin," Maloney said. "This is encouraging to all of us in education. We know it's so important. That the voters did support it, knowing it was going to cost them more money toward a long-term solution, really brings us hope."
The real drag, however, is that NUSD still has a $3.3 million ongoing budget deficit. The budget advisory committee will continue to meet, she said, and eventually make recommendations to the board of trustees in February. The traditional March 15 notification of layoffs won't be nullified by the Prop. 30 vote, she said.
"March 15 is a red mark on our calendars," she said. "We will continue to meet and put thought into the recommendations that will be sent on to the board. Our reality is that we still have that structural deficit."
Fix added, "There are things (the district) can do that it hasn't seriously put on the table, and we haven't cut tremendously into our funding reserves. But this is sort of a happy time, so I want to keep the tone friendly. We're glad the voters supported Prop. 30."