Story by Noah Kuhn
Associate News Editor
Photo by Oscar Walsh
South Pasadena School Board President Michele Kipke and SPUSD Superintendent Geoff Yantz emailed community members to urgently request their help in advocating for school funding on Tuesday, May 19. The administrators asked residents to call California elected officials, including Governor Gavin Newsom, and petition for the reduction of CalSTRS and CalPERS required contributions to 2016 levels for two years.
CalSTRS, or California State Teachers’ Retirement System, and CalPERS, California Public Employees’ Retirement System are agencies that manage retirement benefits for state teachers and employees respectively. School districts across California are mandated to pay into the pension programs, with 75 percent going towards CalSTRS and the rest to CalPERS. SPUSD paid $2,427,540 into CalSTRS in the fiscal year ending in June 2016, according to the CalSTRS 2016 audit.
Kipke and Yantz asserted that rolling back the district’s required CalSTRS and CalPERS contributions to 2016 levels would save SPUSD $1.8 million each year, and have a similar beneficial impact on districts across the state. Alongside Newsom, whom the administrators deemed the most important, the district called on residents to quickly contact State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and South Pasadena’s state representatives: Senator Anthony Portantino and Assemblymember Chris Holden.
The urgent notice comes in the wake of substantial budget cuts to education because of the severe economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. SPUSD notified parents and students of potential cuts to funds in April and has been attempting to meet with state representatives since the announcement.
“Please don’t wait! Send a brief note or make a quick phone call to [our state representatives] and share this message with your friends and family… It is especially important to make the requests known to Governor Newsom. Every bit of advocacy helps support our District,” Kipke and Yantz wrote.
Legislators are expected to release the cuts for the 2020 fiscal year this week, as well as additional cuts for the 2021 fiscal year in August.