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CUSD happy over Prop. 30
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Ceres Unified School District Superintendent Scott Siegel stayed up past midnight reviewing state ballot measure results on Nov. 6.

California voters approved Proposition 30 (The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012) by a 53.9 to 46.1 percent margin.

"We didn't think it was going to pass," Siegel said. "We had a plan ready to go in the other direction to deal with the $5 million hit. We're okay moving forward now."

If Gov. Jerry Brown's state-wide initiative failed, Ceres Unified would have laid off a half-dozen employees, cut five days off the school year, eliminated K-8 hourly-intervention academic instruction programs, including summer school, and raised K-3 class sizes.

"It's a relief," said Siegel. "We were going to be looking at some cuts that wouldn't have been pleasant and not good for kids."

Prop. 30 raises the income tax on those at the highest end of the income scale while families making less than $500,000 a year will pay no additional income taxes. It also temporarily increases sales tax by a quarter-cent, keeping the overall sales tax rate lower than it was in early 2011. The revenue generated through Prop. 30 prevents $6 billion in cuts to schools this year and provides billions for schools in the future.

The new taxes are temporary. The sales tax increase expires in four years, and the income tax increase for the wealthiest taxpayers will end in seven years.

The new revenue will go directly to local school districts and community colleges. Proposition 30 bars use of funds for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how funds are to be spent."

"The voters placed an enormous amount of trust in us," Siegel said. "We're going to do everything we can to make sure every student receives the highest quality of education possible."

Ceres Unified reduced its employees' salaries by 8.5 percent in the fiscal year 2010-11 to offset a $5.5 million budget gap. The move prevented layoffs and cuts to student programs.

"Our employees made sacrifices early in the crisis so our kids wouldn't suffer educationally," said Siegel. "We promised we would restore salaries. We've been able to restore six percent of the original 8.5 percent."

CUSD wants to restore 1.31 percent to all employee salary schedules, effective July 1. Final approval will be made by the Ceres School Board on Dec. 11.

The outcome was praised by Merced College President Ron Taylor. The measure's passage will restore $210 million in funding to community colleges, allowing Merced College to restore many classes that had been identified for cuts on the spring 2013 schedule.

"For California community colleges it will finally allow us to begin adding back some of the thousands of classes we have been forced to cut since we began this nightmare of educational rationing in 2008," California Community College Chancellor Brice Harris said. "Although we have a long road back to financial stability, this victory will allow us to begin serving some of the nearly one-half million students we have turned away in the past four years."

Including Prop. 30, just five of the 11 ballot measures earned voter approval: Prop 35, which will increase penalties on human trafficking, Prop 36, which alters the Three Strikes Law to grant a third strike only for serious offenses, Prop 39, which closes a tax loophole forcing multistate businesses to pay more in state taxes, redirecting some revenues to energy efficiency projects, and Prop 40, which upheld State Senate district boundaries.

Other hot-button ballot measures, such as Prop. 32, which would have barred political contributions through payroll deductions, crippling the role unions play in elections, were voted down. A measure to revoke the death penalty, Prop. 34, and a proposition which would have required genetically engineered foods be labeled, Prop. 37, also failed.

Incumbents saw success in the statewide races, with U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R) retaining his District 10 seat over challenger Jose Hernandez (D), a former astronaut. Denham secured 99,077 votes (53.7 percent) of votes en route to victory. Hernandez attracted 85,329 votes (46.3 percent). Denham will represent the newly drawn District 10 which will encompass all of Stanislaus County and parts of San Joaquin County that include Escalon, Manteca, Tracy, Ripon and Salida.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) easily earned her fifth term in office, defeating Elizabeth Emken (R), a former vice president for Government Relations at non-profit Autism Speaks. Feinstein amassed 6,098,327 votes (61.6 percent) to Emken's 3,802,664 votes (38.4 percent).

Former Ceres resident Bill Berryhill - currently a state assemblyman -- was victorious in the 5th Senate District over challenger Democrat Cathleen Galgiani. Berryhill collected 113,292 votes (51.1 percent) to Galgiani's 108,480 votes (48.9 percent). Berryhill moved to San Joaquin County in order to run for the district -- it does not cover Ceres - which has a 42.5 percent to 37.5 percent Democrat over Republican voter registration advantage.

Adam Gray was the victor in the 21st State Assembly District. Gray clobbered Republican Merced businessman Jack Mobley in a 53,519 (57 percent) to 40,297 (43 percent) outcome. Gray will succeed Assemblyman Bill Berryhill in representing Ceres.

Stanislaus County voters narrowly supported Barack Obama for president over Republican rival Mitt Romney. Obama won 1,060 more votes than Romney in a 70,609 (49.2 percent) to 69,549 (48.4 percent) contest among county voters. Statewide, Californians cast 6,054,201 votes for Obama (59.3 percent) to Romney's 3,919,102 votes (38.4 percent).

In the Hughson City Council election, Matt Beekman will become mayor. He collected 1,774 votes (95.48 percent) while 84 write-in votes were submitted. Beekman ran unopposed to fill the seat of retiring Mayor Ramon Bawanan.

Elected to the Hughson City Council were Jeramy Young who picked up 1,384 votes (42.51 percent) and Jill Ferriera-Silva who picked up 1,305 votes (40.08 percent). Challenger Billy Gonzales was defeated in a third-place finish of 528 vote (or 16.22 percent).

Both Young and Ferreira-Silva were put in office by the voters during the August 2010 recall of Thom Crowder, Doug Humphreys and Ben Manley.

Young is a Modesto Police Department lieutenant.

Ferreira-Silva, who is chief probation officer for Stanislaus County, said she wants the council to focus on economic development, maintain a balanced budget and developing a long-term supply of good clean water.