School board talks parcel tax renewal

Survey shows voter support for tax extension, apprehension for increase

The San Ramon Valley school board held preliminary discussions on whether to seek an extension of the Measure C parcel tax, learning the results of a recent phone survey of voters and receiving a refresher on the renewal process Tuesday morning.

The $144 parcel tax, approved by San Ramon Valley voters in May 2009, is scheduled to sunset in June 2016 -- which school district officials say would result in a loss of $6.8 million annually from the district budget.

School board members have not taken a formal stance on whether to ask voters to renew the parcel tax, but they have begun the process of examining the feasibility of potentially putting the issue on the ballot next May.

Those efforts included a phone survey of 600 local voters conducted July 7-13 by consultant firm EMC Research. The results were shared publicly during the school board meeting Tuesday morning in Danville.

"We see very strong support for continuing the existing tax rate," EMC Research representative Ruth Bernstein said. "But there is definitely a hesitancy to increasing taxes."

Survey respondents were split into two samples, with half being asked about renewing the tax at $144 for seven years and the other half considering an increase to $216 per year for seven years.

Each set of interviewees was asked four different times about the proposed tax amount, with the $144 tax support ranging from 70-79% and the $216 receiving 60-67% support. To pass, the parcel tax would need approval from two-thirds of the voters.

Respondents weighed in on the tax question at the outset of the survey (with the $144 amount receiving 70% support and $216 at 61%), and then again after being reminded of the current tax rate ($144 at 78%, and $216 at 60%), after receiving positive messages about the proposal ($144 at 79%, and $216 at 67%) and finally after listening to negative messages ($144 at 75%, and $216 at 61%).

Bernstein said the survey results incorporated input across age, ethnic and geographic spectra, and included respondents using cell phones (9%) as well as landline telephones (91%). In addition to parcel tax questions, respondents gave their thoughts about the school district as a whole.

"It's this polling and this preliminary information that helps me as a board member know whether or not I can go back out to (the voters) and know what they're feeling on a grand scale," board vice president Denise Jennison said.

Following the survey presentation, the school board received an update on the renewal time-line should it pursue putting the issue on the May ballot. Sarah Stern-Benoit, of consultant firm TBWB Strategies, outlined the five-step process ahead.

The district is currently in the middle of the first step, studying the feasibility of the issue, Stern-Benoit said. To follow would be receiving community input and building consensus, drafting a strong ballot measure, voter identification and persuasion, and lastly voting on Election Day, she added.

To qualify for the May 5 ballot, the school board would have to call for an election on the parcel tax by early February, according to Stern-Benoit.

She also reminded school board members that any public outreach by the district on the issue must be informational-only, non-advocacy communications because "the district cannot use public funds or resources to run the campaign."

Board member Greg Marvel was absent from Tuesday morning's meeting.

In other business, roughly a dozen Alamo residents turned out Tuesday to share their thoughts about the Stone Valley Middle School reconstruction project -- an item that was not listed on the board's agenda.

Six people spoke during public comment on non-agendized items, with four telling the board they opposed the initial design concept and two advocating in favor of the proposed layout. The school board endorsed a conceptual site layout for the project in May.

The two supporters Tuesday said they liked the idea of adding a modernized two-story building to the Alamo campus. The quartet of opponents said they weren't notified about the design process, and some contended the proposed concept would reduce property values, negatively impact traffic and heighten public safety concerns.

The reconstruction project, which officials hope to start next summer, remains in the design phase, according to school district representatives.


Like this comment
Posted by Xin Han
a resident of Blackhawk
on Aug 5, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Please RENEW!

SRVUSD excellence cannot be compromised.

Like this comment
Posted by Tired...of taxes!
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2014 at 6:39 am

Sorry, but I will vote NO!

Like this comment
Posted by James von Halle
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2014 at 9:56 am

If the schools had every dollar printed and every coin minted they still wouldn't have enough money.V

Like this comment
Posted by deliciosa
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2014 at 10:02 am

We pay enough taxes out here in Windemere. We already donate to our schools to make a difference. NO MORE TAXES PEOPLE. I will definitely be voting NO! What makes our schools great is the parents encouraging their children in scholastics not heaping more more taxes on the people.

Like this comment
Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 6, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Once again? Their fiscal "planning" and accountability are sorely lacking. If they honestly believe they can push this after the more recent taxation passed, they are in for a REAL fight here in San Ramon. Talk about irresponsibility AND poor planning.

Like this comment
Posted by Mad
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 7, 2014 at 8:36 am

Unbelievable...............There is no way I am going to vote for another bond......they do not know how to manage the money that we through at them now

Like this comment
Posted by Desh
a resident of Danville
on Aug 7, 2014 at 2:41 pm

To all the ones saying NO to this bond .. be prepared to have your children/grandchildren start flipping burgers if the school district standing detriorates!

Like this comment
Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Look Desh, when poor fiscal accountability occurs in your personal business dealings, you do not play the "open checkbook" game and simply "lie down with the sheep". You ask questions...When the answers return vague (over and over again...) and senseless and unaccountable? YOU FIGURE SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG AND MAKE EVERY ATTEMPT TO SEE THAT IT IS CORRECTED. Unfortunately? That has not been done here and it's crystal CLEAR? You are NEW to this area and DON'T KNOW the issue of the failureS to do - due diligence when it comes to spending and the San Ramon Valley Unified School District specifically. Until you get a "handle" on it? Until you know what's TRUE and what IS NOT? I suggest you be a little more concerned with the overall well being of the district ITSELF as a San Ramon entity historically unable to do thorough auditing (if not hiding expenses) as opposed to your dire warning of "burger flipping". I'm quite sure if you leave your child's education SORELY UP TO THE SCHOOLS HERE OR ANYWHERE? You will be greatly disappointed your weren't MORE proactive and INVOLVED with your own children's education as opposed to simply writing a check.

Like this comment
Posted by Raymond
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 7, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Folks, It's not a bond, it's parcel tax. There's a big difference.

School bonds are used to raise school construction funds for classrooms and other school facilities. The tax rate is based on the assessed value of each property in the school district. The more your home is worth, the more you pay for a bond.

A parcel taxes are SAME amount for each parcel—regardless of the assessed value of the property. Parcel taxes are generally used to raise local funds to support classroom programs.

Like this comment
Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 7, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Taxation/bond...When money is coming out of your pocket under questionable circumstances, is it REALLY important ABOUT the "sameness" of the request?

I think not. WHY Raymond, do you believe there is little difference overall? It STILL represents money out of one's "pocket" does it not?

Like this comment
Posted by Jeff Park
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 8, 2014 at 7:28 am

Here's what "Mad" had to say above:
Posted by Mad, a resident of Alamo
22 hours ago
Unbelievable...............There is no way I am going to vote for another bond......they do not know how to manage the money that we through at them now

Really, Mad???? Money that we "through" at them? I find it ironic that those criticizing the schools cannot even use proper spelling. Perhaps you meant "threw" ?????...not through. Time to spend your precious money on a dictionary and stop being so MAD! Ignorance is bliss!

Like this comment
Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2014 at 9:47 am

Is it actually ironic that those criticizing the schools cannot use proper spelling? Not sure that it is.

Perhaps you meant “ironic” in an Alanis Morrisette sort of way.

Like this comment
Posted by Jeff Park
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 8, 2014 at 10:07 am

Yes, I really do think.

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2014 at 4:02 pm

I think it's time for the Town of Danville and Alamo to break off into their own school district, and SR into its own. It appears to me that the new schools are reaping the benefits of the tax dollars while the "established" schools and their facilities are in seriously bad shape.

Like this comment
Posted by Jeff Park
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Concerned Parent,

Create a new District and you create a whole new group of administrators and non-teaching baffoons who are a drain on the budget. Try home-schooling.....

Like this comment
Posted by BB
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 9, 2014 at 7:57 am

No more bonds/parcel taxes! The district should be able to stay within their budgets with what they already receive.Aren't we already paying for another new elementary school? Dougherty H.S. is already maxed out due to poor projections. Maybe the district needs an outside agency audit!

Like this comment
Posted by NO to any new taxes
a resident of Danville
on Aug 11, 2014 at 11:01 am

One of the root causes of the shortfall in funding recently is the failure of the Dougherty Valley developers to pay for the costs of adding new facilities and services that would be needed for the thousands of children their new houses added to the SRVUSD. Stop assessing the rest of the SRVUSD for the costs of Dougherty Valley! Let those new homeowners fund their own new schools and added services. Perhaps DV should be set up as a separate school district, or at least a separate school tax assessment district.

Like this comment
Posted by Ms. bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Frankly? I'd have given my "eye teeth" for San Ramon to ANNEX the Dougherty valley area and keep it unto itself as the "hot box" of a little valley of well, a sundry community at best.

Like this comment
Posted by Louie
a resident of Danville
on Aug 14, 2014 at 7:54 am

Vote NO.

Parenting determines the outcomes of a school district. Not money.

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