Cities News Roundup

November 03, 1982 3 min read
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A combination of state and federal funding cuts is causing a struggle for survival at the nation’s oldest education fm radio station, which is located in San Francisco.

KALW-fm is owned and operated by the San Francisco school district. In the past, the district has provided 60 percent of the station’s funding.

But the passage of Proposition 13 forced the district to cut spending, and these cuts were compounded by decreases in federal funding for public radio, said Leon Del Grande, the station’s general manager.

Thirty percent of the station’s funds comes from the federal government; listeners, corporations, and foundations donate the remaining 10 percent.

Faced with shortages in the 1982-1983 budget, the San Francisco school board moved to stop providing money to the station, but the final decision has been postponed until February. At that time, the board will review results of the station’s stepped-up fund raising efforts and decide whether to discontinue funding.

KALW went on the air in 1941 using equipment the district purchased at the end of the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair.

The station has an audience of 30,000, Mr. Del Grande said, and broadcasts programs that range from school concerts and plays to school-board meetings. Students who work there gain experience in all facets of radio, he said.

Last year, the budget was approximately $240,000.

A group that represents Pennsylvania businesses and taxpayers has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of a tax that supports the schools, but that the plaintiffs say offers no apprecia-ble benefits to the businesses that are taxed.

The 15-percent tax on parking fees at six of the airport parking lots that lie within the school district provides about 7 percent of the Moon Area School District’s $15-million annual budget. In May, the state supreme court upheld the tax on the grounds that education is of indirect benefit to the plaintiffs.

The tax was first imposed by the local board of education in March 1979, but was struck down by the Court of Common Pleas in June 1979 and by the Commonwealth Court of Appeals in April 1981.

The school district is still collecting the tax, but is not spending the revenues gathered, said Donald Deep, the district’s business manager. The district and businesses are negotiating how much in back taxes the district, in a goodwill gesture, would relinquish even if the tax is upheld on the federal level.

To make up for the $1 million that Mr. Deep estimated the district will not collect in a year without the lot tax, the board of education in June 1979 raised its property taxes from 56 to 68 mills. Mr. Deep said the property-tax hike will probably be rescinded if the lot tax survives.

The appeal, filed by the Grant-Oliver Corporation, Trans-World Airlines, USAir Inc., and taxpayers who live inside and outside the district, states that the tax violates the 14th Amendment’s due-process guarantee because it is aimed solely at people who derive no benefits from the taxing jurisdiction.

Because about 90 percent of the parking-lot users travel across state lines, the appeal states, the plaintiffs are protected by the Interstate Commerce Clause.

The former executive director of the Boise Education Association has been given a 14-year prison term for embezzling an estimated $400,000 from the teachers’ group.

Jack White, who was head of the association for 12 years, was sentenced to a 14-year term on each of three embezzlement charges, but the judge said the sentences could be served concurrently.

Mr. White pleaded guilty to three embezzlement charges and 15 forgery charges.

A parole officer will examine Mr. White’s case in six months, the earliest possible time he could gain parole.

A version of this article appeared in the November 03, 1982 edition of Education Week as Cities News Roundup


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