School board declines to take sides on Proposition 64, Measure X

Majority felt marijuana legalization initiative, county transportation sales tax fell outside board's purview

The San Ramon Valley school board has opted against taking formal stances on California's marijuana legalization Proposition 64 and Contra Costa County's 0.5% transportation sales tax proposal Measure X, with a majority of board members deeming each ballot issue fell outside their official purview.

The no-vote decisions came earlier this month when the board was presented with proposed resolutions in opposition of Prop 64 and in support of Measure X -- resolutions requested by different individual board members and recommended by superintendent Rick Schmitt.

"In both instances, board members expressed that they felt that these ballot items fell outside a school board's purview, are beyond their scope and do not directly relate to the San Ramon Valley Unified School District," district spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich said by email.

The board held separate discussions on the proposed resolutions during its Oct. 4 meeting in Danville, and each time voted 4-1 to pull the endorsement item from the agenda, rather than cast a vote on the merits of the proposal. Board president Greg Marvel dissented both times.

"As individuals and politically active citizens, our personal opinions about statewide and countywide issues must remain our personal opinions," board member Denise Jennison said via email.

"I moved that the board not consider Proposition 64 and I moved that the board not consider Measure X, as they both fall outside of our purview as a school board. Rachel, Ken and Mark agreed. There is really nothing more to it than that," she added.

Marvel, who supported both proposed resolutions, said by email, "Although I was the only board member to support these items remaining on the agenda and thus taking a vote, and I had a fundamental disagreement with the rest of the board members on why the items should be pulled, I respect the will of the majority of the board members to have the items removed from consideration."

The board's actions earlier this month may indicate a need to review its resolution consideration process, according to board member Rachel Hurd, who originally asked that the pro-Measure X resolution be placed on the board's agenda but ultimately voted with the majority to decline consideration.

"I think it's fair to say that our decisions on these two resolutions are more a reflection of the need for us to have a discussion about how resolutions come forward, than on the merit of the resolutions," Hurd said by email.

Prop 64

On the Nov. 8 general election ballot statewide, Proposition 64 asks voters to support legalizing recreational marijuana for people 21 and older as well as establish certain rules and sales and cultivation taxes for such legal, commercialized use.

District administration presented the board with a recommended resolution against the statewide initiative after Marvel requested Prop 64 opposition be placed on the board's agenda, citing concerns about potential increased marijuana use among teens.

"I asked to have the Prop 64 item placed on the agenda as I felt that based on reports coming from Colorado and Washington, where this drug is now legal, this measure would be very damaging to our students," Marvel said.

The one-page proposed resolution stated the board's opposition would have been in part because "we believe the legalization and commercialization of marijuana for recreational use will increase advertising, availability and use by adolescents and lead to negative consequences to the health and safety of our citizens."

Patty Hoyt, representing the nonprofit Discovery Counseling Center, spoke to the board Oct. 4 to urge approval of the opposition resolution.

As written, the proposed resolution also endorsed "public education on the harms of marijuana and proven prevention interventions" and "making drug treatment available to all who need it."

The document also included statistics and conclusions regarding health risks from marijuana, use among teens in Colorado, dependency and reduction in IQ points because of marijuana use -- but all without specific sourcing.

The lack of sourcing was a point of concern for Hurd.

She said she "was not confident about the legitimacy of the sources substantiating some of the (resolution's) 'whereas' statements and therefore the nexus of their arguments."

But more importantly for Hurd and three of her colleagues was whether it would be appropriate for the school board to take sides on legalizing marijuana use for adults 21 years old and older.

"I also supported removing the resolution in support of Prop 64 from the agenda because I don't think that it falls in the school district's purview because Prop 64 addresses behavior for adults 21 and older, not our students," she said.

Measure X

Proposed by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA), Measure X asks voters throughout Contra Costa County to approve a new 0.5% sales tax for 30 years to fund transportation project.

The new tax, if passed by two-thirds of participating voters, would start on April 1, 2017 and would generate an estimated $2.8 billion in funding over the three decades, as measured in today's dollars. It would be in addition to the existing 0.5% transportation sales tax approved by county voters under Measure J in 2004 -- that tax is set to expire in 2034.

More than 23% of the Measure X tax revenue would be intended to maintain and improve local streets in the county, under the proposed transportation expenditure plan.

Funds would also go toward major streets (10.4% of tax revenue), bus transit and ferry services (12%), pedestrian and bicycle facilities (4%), transportation services for seniors, people with disabilities and schoolchildren (6.2% combined).

Hurd said she initially thought the school board should consider endorsing Measure X because of its impact on the San Ramon Valley's TRAFFIX school congestion relief program.

"If approved by the voters, Measure X will allow the current TRAFFIX program to expand, which I believe is a positive outcome for the school district. This is why I was supportive of the district taking a support position," said Hurd, who represents the school district on the TRAFFIX Board of Directors, along with Marvel.

The one-page proposed resolution stated the board would have endorsed Measure X while citing the positive impact of TRAFFIX and the tax expenditure plan's support of improvements on major highways, local streets, public transit, pedestrian and bicycle paths, and transportation for residents with disabilities.

During their discussion Oct. 4, a majority of board members thought Measure X didn't really fall in their official purview, with the board having no authority nor oversight over how a majority of the tax funds would be spent, according to proposed minutes of the meeting.

"After hearing that three of my fellow board members were uncomfortable taking a position on a measure for which they saw only a small relationship to the school district, I felt I needed to respect their discomfort and not put them in the position of abstaining or voting against the resolution," Hurd said about why she ultimately decided to support not voting on a Measure X endorsement.

"Our taking action in support or against any issue is an optional activity. If we don't take a position, there is no harm done," she added.

Marvel again voted in dissent, saying he wanted the board to take a vote on endorsing Measure X.

"I disagreed, pointing out that the benefit to the school district is both in thousands of students getting to school safely and in the millions per year in sales tax dollars that are going directly to supporting school busing in the Valley and the corresponding reduction in traffic throughout the Valley," he said.

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7 people like this
Posted by Ohhhh, No!
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 17, 2016 at 6:56 am

If It's gonna cost me $$$....I'm voting NO!

9 people like this
Posted by Nebuchadnezzar
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 17, 2016 at 7:06 am

Rec pot will eventually trickle down into use by students. Read the research on this from countries such as Ghana. This feckless board has ducked an opportunity to take a stand against Prop 64, to protect unborn generations of students from being poisoned by this drug. Shame on you School Board. History will record your lack of foresight!

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 17, 2016 at 3:41 pm

TRAFFIX and "Safe Routes to School" are outside the schools purview? You might want to read the ballot information again. If it passes should CCTA ignore your opinions??? Thank you Greg and Rachel for presenting something clearly within your purview. Others within our county have a clearer view of the importance of complete streets and a comprehensive view of the value this brings to the school experience for their children.

13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 17, 2016 at 4:18 pm

No on 64. States that have legalized pot have increased traffic accidents & police don't have an effective way to test people under the influence; those are two good reasons. Another is that pot is a gateway drug & with more pot available, more will trickle down to kids. Pot permanently affects young brain development. We have enough problems in CA, we do not need more.

3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 17, 2016 at 4:23 pm

No on X. Funding is already poorly mismanaged, and increasing taxes by 0.5% for 30 years is simply a blank check for them to continue to mismanage. It is already way too expensive to live here, we don't need to make it more expensive. ---& when they run out of everything else, they bring up that it is "for the kids"----hogwash!

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 17, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Meant to say "poorly managed", sorry ref the prior double negative.

16 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 18, 2016 at 6:49 am

After we are done making Marijuana legal I vote we make cocaine legal.

It's hard to believe that making a drug legal is actually up for debate.
A drug is a drug is a drug. Do we really want to teach our children that its ok to use drugs as long as you don't abuse them. I have never met anyone who has benefited off using drugs for recreation. How many marriages have been destroyed by alcohol and other drugs. I have seen far to many myself.

If drugs were beneficial, we would not have so many problems in this world.
all the car accidents, all the deaths, all the neglected and abused children, all the prisons, all the ...

Yet that could never happen to me, I come from a good family, I am a good responsible person, a functioning member of society. When are we going to stop lying to ourselves!

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Blackhawk
on Oct 18, 2016 at 6:57 am

The TRAFFIX buses have helped tremendously with taking cars off the road and saving on travel time - especially the Diablo/ Green Valley intersections. I'm voting YES- the funds are specifically allocated for SRVUSD transportation to school. Of course it helps our community specifically!

9 people like this
Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Oct 18, 2016 at 9:48 am

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Being a parent is going to get tougher once pot is fully legalized.

Pot is everywhere right now, but you still have some control as to where it can be grown, which acts as barrier.

Once it’s legal to grow it in your back yard, kids will hop the fence and get it.

Danville should take steps to make it illegal to grow it in our town.

3 people like this
Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Oct 18, 2016 at 11:20 am

I love how the liberal "geniuses" like Gavin Newsome and his cronies support higher taxes on cigarettes as they are bad for us, and cause damages to children with asthma and the elderly who have to breath the smoke, but think marijuana is fantastic and should be legal. Of course, Obama jokes about his marijuana and coke habit while growing up, but attacks "Big Tobacco" like the devil.

Cigarettes are bad for all of society, and the cancer and health environment problems are horrible, and they should be illegal. However, they are legal, and similar to Prohibition, making them illegal now will not work. However, marijuana is not legal for non-medicinal reasons, and we can keep it illegal to keep usage down. Obviously, once you make it legal, there will be more users, and more harm on society, and it will then be impossible to later make it illegal.

It is time for California to stop being politically correct and start using logic and common sense when realizing making marijuana legal is ridiculous, will cause more users, more cancer, more asthma problems for the young and elderly who have to breath it, and more health problems for our society. Not to mention more unproductive, less intelligent people. Studies have shown an 8% drop in I.Q. for frequent pot users. But then again, unproductive, unmotivated, unhealthy, and uninformed people are the base of the Democratic party, so no wonder Gavin Newsome is pushing this.

3 people like this
Posted by LC
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 18, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Legalized pot is a $$ grab for more taxes by the politicians, clear and simple. Has nothing to do with ethics, morals, health or anything other than tax $$.

2 people like this
Posted by Laughing
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 19, 2016 at 9:17 am

I wonder if all you who are flinging about scare tactics about the pot ballot measure also feel that alcohol should be outlawed? It causes far more accidents, family issues, and health problems than marijuana ever would. Or are you selective in what substances you feel we should be able to use for recreation?

4 people like this
Posted by Herman Glates
a resident of Danville
on Oct 19, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Potheads always like to argue that booze is bad too, so that makes pot ok.

It’s easier to keep kids away from booze than pot. Booze costs money. If a bottle of booze goes missing, you’ll know. Booze don’t grow in a backyard like pot does where kids can steal it for free.

I’m not trying to run your life. If you want to smoke pot and be a loser, fine, go buy it legally at the medical dispensaries in Oakland and other ghetto areas. Get a marijuana leaf tattooed to your forehead for all I care. Just don’t smoke it around me or my kids.

And don’t try to grow it here in Danville. You just might find someone put some weed killer on it. And don’t try to sell it here neither.

Listen up Danville Town Council, if these stoners legalize pot under California law, that don’t mean you’ve got to allow it to be grown or sold here in Danville. You can ban that crap. You should do it preemptively. Right now. You got all worked up about plastic bags and made those illegal before the state law kicked in. Why don’t you do the same for pot? Ban it.

Danville is a family town. Lots of kids live here. You’ve got to give kids a fighting chance to stay away from drugs.

2 people like this
Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Oct 19, 2016 at 12:34 pm

"Laughing": As I noted, we learned during Prohibition that making a substance illegal after years of it being legal does not work. So making cigarettes or alcohol illegal now will not work. However, non-medicinal marijuana is illegal, and keeping it illegal will keep usage down & prevent all the health problems, cancer, second hand smoke, diminished IQ, & gateway to more serious drugs from spreading. Once you make pot legal, it will be impossible to later try to make it illegal. It is too late to ban alcohol & cigarettes, but not too late to ban pot. Liberal activist Tom Steiner talks about in his commercials for taxing cigarettes the $3 billion dollar a year adverse consequences on smoking cigarettes. But as usual he is a hypocrite when joining his liberal friends in pushing pot legalization. Cancer, emphysema, second hand smoke affect on children & elderly, all would greatly increase with pot legalization. Use some common sense for once California voters & protect our children and the elderly from the adverse affects of pot.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Tassajara Hills Elementary School

on Sep 25, 2017 at 9:05 pm

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