District Retires COPs with Bond Proceeds and Sheds Estimated $1.7 Million in Annual Payments
Dating back to 1995 and 2000, a series of district wide modernization efforts, particularly the high school, were financed by a convoluted mixture of bonds (Measure A and M) and COPs (Certificates of Participation). This modernization was plagued by cost overruns that exceeded 50 percent. The initial COP which provided bridge financing could not be repaid with bond proceeds and other COPs had to be issued to finish construction of the administration building and a two-story general education building, due to the cost overruns. Setting aside money from the general fund (where your pay comes from) for interest and repayment of debt has been encroaching on “ongoing” revenues for more than a decade. This has denied teachers of cost-of-living adjustments for the better part of the last fifteen years, during which time the salary schedule has slipped from top 25th percentile to bottom 30th in Los Angeles County. Teachers and their families have quietly financed the completion of those structures with their own pay.
An explicitly stated objective of Measure BB, passed in November 2008, was to transfer the remaining portion of the COP obligations to general obligation bonds, paid for by property taxes. In 2012, the district has finally retired the COPs. This financial transaction freed an estimated $1.7 million in annual payments from the general fund. This represents an ongoing reduction in district outlays that can easily be re-purposed to cover a long-overdue adjustment in teacher compensation.