Story: Jill Tucker
Photo: Paul Chinn
Despite the state’s economic recovery, a Marin County school district is struggling to make ends meet and is planning to cut teachers, administrators and special programs in the coming months.
While unusual, that wouldn’t normally be noteworthy save for one not-so-minor detail: The Sausalito Marin City School District, thanks to a property tax loophole, has almost $30,000 a year to spend on each of the 150 students at its single school.
That’s triple or quadruple the amount spent by most public schools and several thousand more than elite private schools. It’s also just shy of the cost for a year of college at UC Berkeley, including room and board.
And it’s still not enough to pay the bills – or lure the area’s middle- and upper-class families to send their kids there.
How then does a metropolitan school district with huge piles of cash, along with money woes, mediocre test scores and one under-enrolled school continue to exist?
The situation in Sausalito Marin City exemplifies the staying power of tiny and expensive school districts arguably clinging to community control and historical precedence rather than common sense.