FACT SHEET ON WISEBURN SECESSION by dox21414

VIEWS: 0 PAGES: 2

									                        FACT SHEET ON WISEBURN SECESSION

        Centinela Valley Union High School District is located south of Los Angeles
International Airport and serves the communities of Lennox, Hawthorne, and Lawndale, as well
as portions of El Segundo and several unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County, including the
communities of Del Aire and Wiseburn. Centinela’s student body of 7,339 is 96% minority and
24% English Learners, and 64% of the students qualify for the federal Free or Reduced Meals
Program. Centinela has four “feeder” elementary school districts — Lennox, Lawndale,
Hawthorne, and Wiseburn. Children in the community attend one of these four elementary
school districts for kindergarten through grade 8, and then attend a high school within Centinela
for grades 9 through 12.

        At its November 18-19, 2009 meeting, the State Board of Education is slated to vote on
whether to authorize one of Centinela’s four feeder elementary school districts, Wiseburn, to
“unify” — to secede from Centinela and form its own K-12 district. Wiseburn includes portions
of the City of Hawthorne, unincorporated sections of Los Angeles County, and nearly 50% of the
City of El Segundo, including the City’s property-tax rich aerospace and defense corridor. The
State Board of Education initially voted to approve this proposal in 2004 but the unification was
halted by a lawsuit before going to a vote of the people.

       With the State Board of Education poised to once again take up the secession question,
Centinela students, families, teachers, and staff, as well as other taxpayers and community
members, have asked us to explain the impact of the proposed Wiseburn secession on our
community:

       •      Secession would remove 45% of Centinela’s property tax base. Although the
              Wiseburn territory is home to less than 5% of Centinela’s student body, it
              includes valuable commercial real estate that houses aerospace and defense giants
              such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, as well as manufacturing
              conglomerates such as Mattel. Indeed, El Segundo is second only to San
              Francisco in supporting the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the
              State of California. Without this tax base, Centinela will be unable to obtain
              sufficient facilities funding through property-tax-funded school bonds to provide
              adequate facilities for its students.

       •      Secession would threaten Centinela’s solvency. Centinela has been working
              assiduously, with fiscal guidance from the Los Angeles County Office of
              Education, to bring the District back from the edge of bankruptcy during the most
              serious fiscal crisis facing California and its public schools in nearly a quarter of a
              century. Centinela projects that Wiseburn secession would result in the
              immediate loss of $2.5 million in Average Daily Attendance and other funding
              from the state and federal government. These financial losses will once again
              threaten Centinela’s solvency.

       •      Secession would further divide an already segregated community. The
              California Department of Education acknowledged in a September 7, 2004
              memorandum that unification could “pull from” Centinela “proportionally (1)
              more students with higher test scores[;] (2) fewer [English Learners;] (3) fewer
              CalWORKs students[;] and (4) fewer students in the [federal Free and Reduced
              Meals] Program.” Current data shows that Wiseburn secession will also result in
              Centinela losing a disproportionate percentage of its dwindling non-Hispanic
              white population, including 35% of the non-Hispanic white students at
              Centinela’s Hawthorne High School. Secession would also remove nearly 20% of
              Hawthorne High School’s Advanced Placement students, forcing a significant
              reduction in course offerings.

       •      Secession could impose a nearly 200% tax increase on the remaining
              Centinela taxpayers. Without the 45% of Centinela’s property tax base in the
              Wiseburn territory, the remaining (non-Wiseburn) taxpayers could be forced to
              pay nearly double what they currently pay in property taxes to retire Centinela’s
              already existing bond debt, including the $98 million in bonds that Centinela
              voters recently approved in November 2008. Last time the State Board of
              Education attempted to eliminate this tax increase, but there is no guarantee that
              will happen this time, and any effort to eliminate this tax increase may not stand
              up in court.

       •      Secession could force the closure of Centinela’s Lawndale High School. The
              loss of the 332 students from the Wiseburn territory, when coupled with the
              potential loss of hundreds of other Centinela students seeking permits to transfer
              to a Wiseburn high school, and already declining enrollment trends, could force
              Centinela to close its smallest “full service” high school, Lawndale High School,
              which was named a California “Most Distinguished School” in 2009. Lawndale
              High School was also one of 12 schools in the country selected for the National
              Center for Urban School Transformation Award, and was listed in U.S. News &
              World Report in 2009 as one of the top 400 high schools in the nation.

       For more information about the Wiseburn secession proposal or the impacts it would
have on the Centinela community, please contact Aimee Dudovitz, district’s legal counsel from
Strumwasser & Woocher, at (310) 576-1233.

								
To top