Recently, the Hermosa Beach City School District has had financial trouble and must resort to drastic measures to keep itself afloat. In lieu of a potential government takeover of the district, Hermosa’s parcel tax (upon which the revenue goes to the school) should be raised.
One of the chief options is a district merger with either the Manhattan Beach Unified School District or the Redondo Beach Unified School District, but this option would not be feasible.
At the moment, every minute is crucial to the HBCSD. A merger would involve a process in which the action must be approved first by the merging school district, then by the public 88 days later. With such a long period of waiting and deliberation, the school district will be even more pressed for time if the plan is voted down in the public referendum.
This referendum will cost between $40,000 and $70,000, according to a district statement, and will have to be voted on by both Hermosa and the prospective merging district. Both a merger and parcel tax would necessitate an election.
Hermosa must convert to a K-12 system to meet qualifications with the merging district. However, both Hermosa View and Hermosa Valley would stay open and high school students would attend Costa or Redondo, depending on the merging district.
Furthermore, a merger would not be a viable option due to the large number of new students the incorporating district would have to admit. According to MBUSD reports, elementary class sizes have increased in recent years, and a major influx of new students would require new teachers whose salaries MBUSD would not be able to conceivably support given current cuts.
MBUSD Superintendent Dr. Michael Matthews has stated the decision is ultimately up to HBCSD, and that he would welcome further conversation concerning a merger if the point arose. However, this merger may not be the best option.
This, along with other potential issues, such as the inability to fundraise, could potentially cause the merge to fail. Without the sufficient fundraising, the district will have spent large amounts of time and money on a fruitless endeavour.
The best option would be to raise the Hermosa Beach parcel tax. The amount in question is still being discussed because school districts are limited in parcel and bond taxing authority. Such a parcel tax would go directly to the district (as it already does) and aid the current situation.
This property tax is the best option for HBCSD. Hermosa residents may argue against the inevitable tax raise in face of this parcel tax. According to a statement by HBCSD, the 2010 debt in Manhattan and Redondo was about twice as high as that of Hermosa. and Manhattan’s being nearly five times as high, leading to even higher tax increases in a merger with either city; such an option would likely be unpopular.
With a failure to fundraise, Hermosa needs help now, but it should not have to burden other school districts or cities when they suffered the same financial losses. Although a raise in parcel taxes seems unfavorable now, keeping HBCSD intact will be the best option for the years to come.