School parcel tax going to the vote

Trustees OK mail-in balloting for the spring

In an effort to combat expected cutbacks in state funding and protect current programs, members of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved placing a parcel tax measure on the ballot this spring.

At their Tuesday meeting, trustees approved an annual property parcel tax of $144, an increase from the current tax of $90, which expires June 30.

"This measure is essential to keep our schools among the best in the state. Our academic programs and qualified teachers prepare our students to succeed and be competitive in a global economy," said Superintendent Steven Enoch. "Most importantly, this funding goes straight to our schools and cannot be taken by the state."

Mail-in ballots will be sent to voters in April. Officials said that the ballots must be completed and turned in by the end of April to be counted in the May 5 election.

This is the second year in a row that the district has sought to pass the tax. Last year, a parcel tax measure of $166 failed to pass with 63 percent of the vote. Any such tax measure requires a two-thirds majority in order to pass.

At Tuesday's meeting some residents in attendance called for a higher amount on the parcel tax, but trustees felt that asking for the lower figure gave them a better chance of seeing the measure pass.

"We know that this will not come close to bridging the gap we are seeing in State funding, but we want the voters of the community to know that we listened to them and that we fully understand the impact of the slumping economy," said Enoch. "We really need support from the community to renew our local funding, especially in light of the drastic cuts we face from the State."

Officials said that there will be annual audits and a citizen's oversight committee to make sure the funds are being spent on district programs. In addition, none of the parcel tax money can be spent on administrative salaries.

"Good schools are critical to the overall vitality of a community, and we know that our schools are a major reason why people choose to buy a home in the San Ramon Valley," said Bill Clarkson, president of the school board. "This measure will help us maintain this tradition of academic excellence, as well as protect property values during these unstable financial times."

The board recently held four workshops to discuss the parcel tax and what needed to be done to get it passed. One area of concern was that many seniors over 65 and those with disabilities were unaware that there is an exemption available to them. Officials have said that is something that they will be working to inform the public about during the next several months.

Many PTA's and other school groups have already begun rallying behind the measure. At some schools parents have already begun collecting funds to help pay the cost of running the campaign this year.


Posted by Todd, a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2009 at 6:53 am

Who is paying for this ballot? It will fail. We already are paying enough and the schools are good but I would not say they are the best. If we would have the best schools in the state then I would support but their time to produce is past and they have their hand out like everyone else that did not prepare and have been wasting money for years.

Posted by Kolisa, a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School
on Jan 30, 2009 at 11:09 am

Let's stick with facts: The SRVUSD has some of the highest API scores in the state. More than 90% of our students go on to college and our schools have the designation of distinguished schools. We cannot afford NOT to pass this parcel tax. We are at risk to have 36 kids to a class, to lose PE, art and music, and maybe even science. What will that do to our community? To the future prospects of our children? To our property values? Think of it as a business decision if nothing else. Investing in education is moral, is right and we need everyone's support. Please be part of the solution and vote to pass the parcel tax. It's a great investment.

Posted by R. W., a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2009 at 11:47 am

When will our citizens learn that more money is not the answer. Education in this country has declined drastically since the advent of teachers' unions and the emphasis on social engineering instead of reading, writing and arithmetic.Students from Asia and India run rings around our kids in math and science. It's only a matter of time before our vaunted college and university system falls. As someone who was involved in the hiring process in private industry for decades I can't begin to tell you how poorly employment applications are completed. Find an eighth-grade exam from the blackboard and chalk days of the early 20th century and you will see that most college graduates today would fail miserably.

Posted by Todd, a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm

It is a fact that the schools are better than lets say - Antioch! For a public school, where standards have been lowered for years, teachers assign work and dont teach, I as a parent had been doing the teaching. The school system relies on parents donations and help at the school and they just want more. To see how poorly the scores stack up, look at the private schools (this may take you time to find the good ones, but they are out there). If you care about a kids chance to compete in a world market (which we are coming too) our kids need a much better education than S.R.V.U.S.D. can provide. I choose to send mine to the best schools I could find, its not even in this state. They may hate it today, but will thank me when they are older. I did make a moral decision, I put my kids first and that told me the public schools are not really getting our kids ready for this changing world. I will vote no.

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