News

Measure C passes with 72.56 percent

District officials excited but wary of next hurdle

Months of campaigning came to an end Tuesday night as supporters of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District's Measure C parcel tax initiative pulled in more than 72.5 percent of the ballots giving a go-ahead to the funding measure. Polls closed at 8 p.m., and by 8:30 p.m. Contra Costa County Election officials had called the race with 28,494 Yes votes and 10,777 No votes.

Proponents of Measure C gathered to watch the returns at the Bridges Country Club. More than 200 people were on hand as the precincts were quickly counted and the lead held by the pro-C forces steadily grew until the final result was announced and the room burst out into ecstatic applause.

"It was a big celebration," a smiling SRVUSD Superintendent Steve Enoch said. "There were cheers and there were tears. It was a wonderful moment." Enoch said that he has been through a number of similar votes during his time in education but the victory Tuesday was one of the sweetest. "This may be a highlight in my career," he said.

The ballot measure approved will charge each residence within the San Ramon Valley Unified School District $144 per year. It replaces the current $90 per year parcel tax that expires June 30. Officials said the new tax will bring in an estimated $7 million per year to the district. It is set to expire in seven years. The funds are expected to help offset an estimated $16 million in cuts in state funding for education.

One of the leaders of the Measure C movement was school board member Rachel Hurd. Elated over the victory, she attributed the win to the campaign run by proponents and community-wide effort to see the issue pass.

"From start to finish we ran a good campaign. We set a goal that our advisors indicated would work, we staffed a team, and this time people really stepped up," she said, adding, "Overall it was an engaged group of hundreds of people, the enthusiasm was there, and we pulled it off."

Last year, the district placed a similar initiative, Measure D, on the ballot, which failed by only 2 percent. In the May 5 election, the Yes votes went up by over 8 percent. Hurd said what she thinks helped to make the difference was the level of volunteer involvement. "Last year's volunteer effort was a little thin. This time, we had more people involved and they were engaged."

Opponents of the ballot initiative were out during the day Tuesday, keeping a watchful eye on the two ballot drop-off locations. The most vocal opponent was Mike Arata. Arata said that while he did see some things at the drop-offs that he felt were questionable, the number of ballots involved would not have affected the outcome.

"The difference is far too large for any challenge," he explained. He said that the final result did not come as a shock. "I'm disappointed but I'm not surprised. The district and the Measure C tax promoters employed their customary tactics."

Arata added, "I wish more people paid attention to school district finances. To them this is a small enough amount that they wouldn't want to spend more time on it."

While the victory Tuesday is a vital component to the district's plans to maintain funding of teachers and programs, proponents are also keeping a wary eye on the next piece of the funding puzzle. Rachel Hurd said that the school board is meeting Wednesday to discuss possible scenarios as they move ahead in the wake of the parcel tax passage, but they will not be able to fully plan for another two weeks.

"There's still a huge unknown with what happens with the May 19 ballot. We can't make any solid decisions before that May 19 election," she stated.

Superintendent Enoch agreed. "If the ballot measures go down on May 19, it will offset our victory here tonight. More than offset it."

In the meantime, 228 school district teachers remain in limbo. Those teachers received pink slips in March, provisional layoff notices that must either be rescinded or finalized by May 15. Hurd said that at this point they are not planning to rescind those notices until they have the result of the statewide election.

She said that there is legislation currently being considered that may allow school districts in similar situations to postpone making that decision until June 15.

Enoch said he expects those layoff notices to be finalized within the next several days. "I've assured people that these may not be final, it's just by law they have to be given out by May 15. Unfortunately that's the reality you're going to find in almost every school district right now. We're prepared to give those notices out and then rescind them as soon as we can."

He said, however, that concerns about the upcoming vote should not take away from the effort of the community and the victory at hand. "It is celebration tonight and we will see how the 19th goes."

Comments

Posted by Christina Bode, a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on May 5, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Thank you to all of the members of the community who voted YES!!!


Posted by Dan Parnas, a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on May 5, 2009 at 9:02 pm

This was a great example of a community working together and the result is awesome!!!! Everyone that participated in making this happen should feel very proud of the outcome. In my 10 years in this area, I have never seen such a positive and inspiring community led effort, with the yard signs and painted car windows and parades and phone banks.


Posted by Lisa, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Victory! Victory for our kids today and going forward: )


Posted by Dave, a resident of San Ramon
on May 5, 2009 at 10:31 pm

That's funny, now they're talking about receiving federal stimulus money after Measure C passes. Thought the district wasn't going to receive any of that money.


Posted by Rich, a resident of Tassajara Hills Elementary School
on May 6, 2009 at 6:23 am

Congratulations and appreciation to the key organizers behind this exceptionally well run campaign! Thank you.


Posted by Ralph Hoffmann, a resident of Walnut Creek
on May 6, 2009 at 6:27 am

Thanks to all of the volunteers who worked to increase property values in the San Ramon Valley, including you, Mike, for fronting the opposition group!


Posted by Roy, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2009 at 6:59 am

Wonder how the district will figure out a way to waste this money.
I'm sure it won't be difficult, they have always found a way.


Posted by Community courtesy, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2009 at 7:03 am

Dear Dolores,

Campaigns learned a valuable lesson from Measure C supporters. Voters will support a campaign based on thorough information and communication. E-exchange participants felt included by the campaign and district that responded immediately and often.

Well done!!

Hal


Posted by Julia, a resident of Alamo
on May 6, 2009 at 7:55 am

Just keep milking us and milking us and milking us and all in the name of our kids, what a fraud. Some day you fools will wake up. The school district will waste this money as they always have. Our children will not see any benefit from them this additional funding. But I'm it makes a lot of parents happy thinking it will...don't close the check book yet. Like Arnold say's...The SRVUSD will be back for more.

I just hope the May 19th NO voter's keep you day dreamers under control, someone has too.


Posted by Gary, a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on May 6, 2009 at 8:02 am

Though I voted in favor of C, I expect that there should be tougher accountability on how the funds are spent -- I didn't vote yes just to give administrators a blank check upon which to spend unwisely. If they mis-spend these additional funds, shame on them, and they can never go back to the well (voters) again, nor should they.


Posted by Ron, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2009 at 8:51 am

It didnt matter to me either way if it passed or failed. Whats a few hundred bucks and maybe it may help. If it does not, they will have a hard time getting anything passed going foward. I am no fan of the S.R.V.U.S.D. but couldnt see voting against it with one kid still in school so I didnt vote at all. One thing I dont understand is how do they know I did not vote? I had two phone calls reminding me that I had not voted yet. I guess I moved up the black list if I was not already near the top anyway.


Posted by Dan Parnas, a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on May 6, 2009 at 9:01 am

Come on folks, don't be sore losers, show a little class. You don't see any of the Yes on C supporters rubbing it in here. Why can't we see this as an opportunity to move forward together with a unified purpose; to help the SRVUSD to be the best it can be. If you are so unhappy with the way the schools are being run, instead of campaigning against a measure because you think you know what the school doesn't need, how about using your time and energy in a constructive way to help to provide the schools with what they do need. I think you'll find most of us are in agreement on what it is the schools need. What they don't need is for people to vent their anger and frustration in negative ways. Nobody needs that. I personally would be happy to work alongside many of the No on C voters to find ways to ensure the SRVUSD spending is done wisely, with maximum transparency and accountability. Measure C is now in the rear view mirror, let's focus on the future and work together. Any takers?


Posted by Greg Marvel, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2009 at 9:15 am

As one of those school board members that you entrust with your children's education, let me make it clear that the money will be spent carefully and wisely. There will be a citizens oversight committee that will review all plans to spend the money and resulting expenditures. To those that think we "waste" our money, let me assure you that this district does not. We have some of the highest test scores, graduation rate and college attendance rates in the state. This is all done with some of the lowest dollars per student in the state and the country. For example, Oakland Unified gets about $11,500 from all sources (local, state, federal) per student. San Ramon Valley gets about $5,700 per student in state and local funding in a formula that makes us one of the lowest funded K-12 districts in California. We get about the same amount per student as school districts in New York state were getting in the early 1980's. In spite of our funding level, we still excel at providing a quality education. Citizens should always be checking up on their public servants. However, blanket statements that the SRVUSD wastes money just does not match the facts.

Greg Marvel
School Board Member
San Ramon Valley USD


Posted by Community courtesy, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2009 at 9:38 am

Dear Dolores,

Dan Parnas should consider Measure C funds to be the focus of in-depth audits of SRVUSD funds usage. Even though Iron Horse neighborhoods, as a majority of voters, voted yes on Measure C, no one should assume that neighbors will not attach strings to those funds. In the Alamo region neighborhoods, there must not be repeats of the prejudiced support of Monte Vista High School and the outrage created by the parking lot that was exceptional to any parking offered other high schools.

With that outrage in mind, corridor neighbors will now have an ad hoc audit team working with counsel to insure that all funding primarily goes to schools and classrooms and not to administrative HQ head-count growth. SRVUSD board and superintendent now must realize that they are going to be reviewed immediately and in-depth for each and every usage of funds.

Measure C is not in the rear view mirror and is more importantly placing SRVUSD under a community microscope. Such is appropriate for the owners of the district as they monitor their representatives and employees in usage of their money.

Hal, as a community courtesy


Posted by Teacherman, a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on May 6, 2009 at 9:58 am

What I have learned on this journey is that when a community comes together with a common goal, driven by passion and commitment, it can make the necessary changes that it needs. In the case of Measure C, the voters decided that our children were worth it and that is very reassuring. I thank this community for their dedication and commitment to our schools and the children who pass through it.

However, the journey does not end here. Though this is a good time to take a breath and congratulate each other, we face many more challenges ahead, particularly the insurance of Measure C funds. There is no doubt the district has historically spent money where many of us didn't see fit. However, Mr. Marvel is right in his calculations; we achieve a lot with very little in this district.

So I urge you, as a community, to remain united for our high performing schools and our deserving children. Stay informed about SRVUSD's financial decisions. Attend SRVUSD Board meetings and utilize your voice to respectfully express your appreciation as well as your criticisms. Continue to build relationships with school organizations such as the PTSA and Boosters. And most importantly, do not accept mediocrity from our educational leaders.

Not only do we, as educational professionals, owe the voters of this great community a sincere Thank You, but we also owe them accountability. As teachers, principals, superintendents, Board members, counselors, custodians, and all those many others who are dedicated to the high performance of our schools, it is OUR job to make sure that the taxpayers money is being spent wisely. And to remember that its not our salaries, our breaks, our tenure, or our freedoms that bring us to this profession but rather the educational success of the children who pass through our classroom doors.


Posted by Rick, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2009 at 10:13 am

I do not want to be a sore loser. So, congrats if this was a fair win. I do think it was a touch rigged. I think that any ballot like this that is relatively unknown compared to a regular election will always work in favor of the proponents, because there's more of them that know about it. For instance, with my busy life, I didn't even know what C was until a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, I had been seeing the yes on C writing on cars for a while before. I know a lot of people who had a similar experience. Such is why usually the debate starts around now and people have until November to vote. You may have won fair and square. But, you also may not have. Keep that in mind before you judge how much of a mandate this is for your agendas. I never had a problem with giving the money. I had a problem with its misuse up until now and possibly in the future. You wanna make the no on C people happy, get rid of Del Amigo, Venture and the group homes. Make sure that all students are from this district and legal residents of this country. If you don't, you will find that you will take much heat and just may end up with a ballot that reverses everything you've worked for with C. So, until then, congrats!


Posted by Rick, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2009 at 10:23 am

This is concerning the group homes, Del Amigo and Venture. It's time to take action people. I am telling everyone I know to contact our local and state governments. I am personally telling them to wait until we can all call at around the same time and inundate the heck out of them. Sometimes the trickle effect doesn't work well. I am starting to organize street protests as well. People are gone in the summer, but when everyone is back around before school, this movement will be kicking off. No more endangering our children! Until then, rally the forces, bug the government as much as you can, and do not lose the fire.


Posted by Roy, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2009 at 10:24 am

Dear Dan, I have personnaly seen how the dustrick waste money.

Why doesn't someone besides me ask the district why they have not been involved with PG&E and the California Energy to retrofit the schools and Admin offies to Energy Efficent Lighting.

Proposals have been put on the table for three years now and nothing has come of it, wouldn't everyone like to see them save anywhere from $3-500,000.00 a year in energy at no cost to the district.

Sounds like a no brainer to me?


Posted by Dan Parnas, a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on May 6, 2009 at 10:42 am

Roy, I totally agree. What can people like us do to support that direction? I recall from the other forums here that another poster mentioned that there was a plan already in motion to address that issue. If that person is here, if they could share details about that plan and how supporters can get involved, I think many of us would appreciate it.

Whoever the poster was that addressed me specifically regarding Measure C funds being the focus of in-depth audits, I personally don't have a problem with that. We don't have to get into semantics about whether that means Measure C is in the rear view mirror or not. I would suggest that taking such a myopic view/approach though is short sighted. Instead of having just Measure C funds as the focus of in-depth audits, why wouldn't we want to take a closer look at the overall budget/spend of the SRVUSD? Measure C funds alone only will represent roughly 3% of the overall budget. If people are upset about how the SRVUSD spends money, doesn't it make a lot more sense to focus on the overall spend, not just 3% of it? I personally have not seen first hand the wasteful spending that others talk about. The school my children go to is wonderful, but certainly not lavish. But in the interests of moving forward together as a community, it certainly would seem like the most logical approach would be the one that Teacherman suggests above. Don't take a myopic approach and single out Measure C funds. If you want to see positive change in the district, you've got to take a holistic approach and work together towards a common goal.


Posted by Roy, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2009 at 11:27 am

Dan & All others that care.

Don't know who that person was, but I can tell you that the district
had a proposal in there hands three years ago to retrofit the Education Center.

If they would have followed the advise and implimented that plan, the cost on the loan to the Californa Energy Commission at 5% was Approx. $400.00 and a monthly savings in energy would have been approx. $700.00, is this a no brainer, can you do the math, you get upgraded lighting and you are putting approx. $300.00 in your pocket each month, furthermore when the loan is paid you are now saving approx. $700.00 a month. Consided the money saved if we had retrofitted all the schools.

This is not to mention the Contribution from PG&E. Seems the School District has better things to do then save $$$. Lastly let's also consider the better lighting for our children in the classrooms.


Posted by Dan Parnas, a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on May 6, 2009 at 11:51 am

Come on Roy, what is the value of recreational complaining? If the goal is to have our schools be energy efficient, let's see what we can do to work towards that outcome, not rehash something that happened 3 years ago. The only value in rehashing the past is to learn from it, not to harp on it. I support energy efficiency, so let's see what we can do about it in the present.


Posted by Teacherman, a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on May 6, 2009 at 12:12 pm

The district is pursuing an Energy Iniative that will shape habits and practices of district employees in district facilities. I believe the Initiative is still under the consideration of the Board but there is a strong desire to implement it and potentially save many dollars. I briefly looked at this plan and can not recall the actual numbers in it therefore I am abstaining from throwing numbers out in this particular forum.

To answer Mr. Parnas's question "What can people like us do to support that direction?", I believe energy efficiency and conservation begins in our homes. Habits and practices like turning the lights off when you leave the room, shutting down your computer at night, taking shorter showers, and reducing, recycling, and reusing should be values taught between parent and child and then fostered in the schools. Much like respect, we teach it to our kids then we support it in our schools.

At this point, I think the we can save a considerable amount of money without spending money by changing habits as opposed to spending tons of money to change the infrastructure of our facilities and then let district employees continue habits of waste and excessive use of resources. That said, I completely agree with Roy, the district should be pursuing any free advice or energy efficient retrofitting from PGE.


Posted by Dawn, a resident of Alamo
on May 6, 2009 at 12:42 pm

To the Measure C supporters, congratulations on your win. I am disappointed that the community has again voted to pay an exceptionally large amount of money to the district without it being specifically earmarked, but it appears that the less than 50% of eligible voters who cast their ballots do not share my view.

So go the workings of a Democratic Republic.

And now, Mr. Parnas, I would be delighted to take you up on your kind offer in our previous debate to pay my share of this new encumbrance. Thanks in advance!


Posted by Rick, a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on May 6, 2009 at 12:44 pm

As a recent transplant to Danville, I am excited to see such meaningful debate and purposeful campaigns. The loss for the "No on C" camp may still sting a little, but in the end we should strive to spend every penny wisely so that our kids are the leading scientists, artists, entrepreneurs,and teachers of tomorrow. That is our legacy.


Posted by Rick, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm

I'm posting this again so that people don't think the Rick right above this, from Vista Grande, is me. I do not want to be a sore loser. So, congrats if this was a fair win. I do think it was a touch rigged. I think that any ballot like this that is relatively unknown compared to a regular election will always work in favor of the proponents, because there's more of them that know about it. For instance, with my busy life, I didn't even know what C was until a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, I had been seeing the yes on C writing on cars for a while before. I know a lot of people who had a similar experience. Such is why usually the debate starts around now and people have until November to vote. You may have won fair and square. But, you also may not have. Keep that in mind before you judge how much of a mandate this is for your agendas. I never had a problem with giving the money. I had a problem with its misuse up until now and possibly in the future. You wanna make the no on C people happy, get rid of Del Amigo, Venture and the group homes. Make sure that all students are from this district and legal residents of this country. If you don't, you will find that you will take much heat and just may end up with a ballot that reverses everything you've worked for with C. So, until then, congrats!


Posted by Rufous, a resident of Alamo
on May 6, 2009 at 3:18 pm

I suggest all who opposed this measure attend every school board meeting and speak up about the way the district spends money. Write to board members and specify your dissatisfaction with the way the money is being spent. Suggest other ways to spend (or save) Find a candidate you can support to challenge incumbents. But if you don't get involved stop whining.


Posted by Char, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Having served as past P.T.A. Pres. at two schools, countless hours in school and serving on special projects helped me to vote NO. That was an education enough to see where the waste is in this dist.


Posted by Maxwell, a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on May 6, 2009 at 5:54 pm

As a young student (senior at SRVHS) i have learned so much in the last year from the November election and this one.

Thanks to the supporters of Measure C.
Thanks to the opponents as well, you have raised thoughtful quesitons that needed to be answered by the proponents.

At the end of the day, I want a better education for my little sister and those who follow behind our senior class. This was a well run campaign on the Yes side, and I commend those who ran it.

God Bless America... probably one of the only countries where this sort of thing could be debated, talked through, and then voted on instead of just being an order from a dictator.


Posted by Rick, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2009 at 9:56 pm

No one's whining Rufous. Getting involved on this blog allowed us to influence the people. We shall also be more active at other venues. The two are not mutually exclusive.


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