Westside school officials expressed dismay, but not surprise, at Gov. George Deukmejian’s veto last week of a bill that would have eased the financial burden on school districts with declining enrollment.
The bill, passed by the Legislature in September, would have given nearly $13 million to 260 shrinking school districts in the state. Beverly Hills, Culver City and Santa Monica-Malibu unified school districts were among those slated to receive money.
Since California school districts are funded according to the number of students enrolled, declining enrollment often creates financial hardship, educators say. Officials of districts with dwindling enrollment say that a decline in the student population does not produce a proportional decline in the cost of support services, energy and other district expenses.
“We really won’t be affected, because we expected the governor to veto this bill all along,” Culver City Supt. C. I. Rethmeyer said.
Culver City Unified, whose enrollment has dipped from 7,500 to 4,500 over the last 15 years, would have received about $48,000 under the plan.
Beverly Hills Unified was also prepared for the veto, according to Supt. Robert L. French.
“We hadn’t planned on those funds,” French said. The district, which would have received $110,000, has lost about 100 students since last year, when about 4,750 were enrolled.
Mark Karadenes, assistant superintendent of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified, said his district would “obviously . . . be affected by the loss of revenue.” Santa Monica-Malibu would have received nearly $170,000 under the legislative plan. The veto, he said, would leave the district with “nothing to fall back on.”
Karadenes said the district had not yet decided which of its programs would have to be curtailed as a result of the veto.
The district’s numbers have been declining since 1975 and dropped from about 15,500 to 9,161 this fall, Karadenes said.