Give Us Your Tax Rebate, Orange Schools Ask

Times Staff Writer

The Orange Unified School District is asking residents to donate all or part of their forthcoming state income-tax rebates to public schools, board member Sandy Englander announced Tuesday.

At a press conference in Orange, Englander said a special account will be established for the donations, which she hoped would help restore some of the programs eliminated by tight budgets.

"I am here today to ask every family in the Orange Unified School District area who receives a refund from the surplus fund account to donate a percentage of that refund, if not all of it, to those who most need it at this time: the students of Orange Unified School District, the citizens of our future."

She said she has asked a lawyer to help determine whether the district should use its existing School Pride foundation to hold and distribute the rebate money or should create a new foundation. In either case, she said, parents will have a voice in how the rebate money would be spent.

"I will be working closely with the PTA on this project and with other community-based groups to help get the families in their schools to donate to the foundation and to help determine which instructional programs to reinstate," she said. She said she hopes that the music program is one of them.

Also Tuesday, Kent Moore of Corona del Mar, a vocational education teacher in Tustin, said he is writing letters to newspapers in every California county, urging residents to donate their rebates to their local school systems.

The letter reads in part: "If, indeed, the polls have indicated that most taxpayers thought that the money should have gone instead to the state's public schools to improve the quality of education, why not do just that when the checks are received? . . . Endorse the check over to the school district which serves your particular community."

The tax rebates are the result of $1.1 billion in tax money that exceeds the Gann limits on state spending. The Gann initiative, passed in 1979, limits how much government can spend over the previous year. This is the first year that state spending has reached the limit.

Gov. George Deukmejian wanted all the money rebated to the taxpayers. Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) battled to use the money to allow a temporary reduction in the sales tax.

In addition, state Supt. of Public Instruction Bill Honig called for all of the money to be used for restoring education funds Deukmejian vetoed earlier this year.

In a compromise worked out earlier this month, Deukmejian agreed to a separate bill giving $87 million in aid to big-city school districts.

The Legislature, in turn, agreed to rebate the $1.1 billion directly to the taxpayers, beginning in November.

The rebates will vary but will not exceed $118 for a single person or $236 for a couple who file a joint return. The minimum any taxpayer will get back is $32.

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