Acalanes Union High School District parcel tax, Measure A (May 2010)

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Logo of the Acalanes Union High School District
An Acalanes Union High School District parcel tax, Measure A ballot question was on the May 4, 2010 ballot for voters in the Acalanes Union High School District in Contra Costa County, where it was approved.[1][2][3]

Measure A is a new tax of $112/parcel in addition to the existing tax of $189/parcel. The tax began on July 1, 2010 and will last for five years.[4]

The school board's proposal came on the heels of Measure G, which voters in the district approved on November 3, 2009. Measure G extended the district's current $189 per-year tax indefinitely, rather than having an expiration date in 2011.

The Measure A parcel tax generates about $4 million a year. The school board wanted voters to approve the new tax because they faced an estimated $4.8 million budget gap.[5] Board president Vanessa Crews expressed a sense of urgency about passing the tax: "Our only alternative to going forward (with a parcel tax) of course is to let go 56 teachers, decimating programs for students at all of our schools."[2]

A two-thirds supermajority vote was required for approval.

Election results

Measure A
Approveda Yes 27,487 68.49%
These final, certified, election results are from the Contra Costa County elections office.

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

Measure A: "To avoid the severe loss of science, foreign language, English, social studies, the arts, and mathematics classes due to continuing deep cuts in the state’s budget, and to provide students with high-quality programs and services, shall the Acalanes Union High School District be authorized to collect an emergency special tax at an annual cost of $112 per parcel for five years beginning July 1, 2010, with a citizens’ oversight committee, and offering a senior exemption?"[6][7]


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The editorial board of "MediaNews," which publishes the Oakland Tribune, urged residents to vote in favor of the tax. They said:

"While we back the measure, we want voters to go to the polls with full knowledge. They should know that even with the cuts, the district's teachers are the best-paid in Contra Costa County. They should also know that the $112 increase will be just a small part of the extra school fees residents see on their tax bills."[8]


"...the money is needed. The district budget has declined from $56 million annually two years ago to $47 million projected for 2010-11 fiscal year. Maximum class sizes have been significantly increased and by next year will reach 31-33 in English, world history, math and science. Meanwhile, teachers have agreed to five furlough days a year, effectively cutting their salaries by 2.5 percent. And they have agreed to reductions in health care benefits for some teachers."

Susie Epstein, co-chair of the "Yes on Measure A" committee, said, "We understand that we have our detractors out there, but overwhelmingly we have received a lot of support and the community really values public education, and so we are hoping that our 'yes' supporters come out to vote."[9]


Several local taxpayer groups opposed the tax. They said the district shouldn't be asking voters for more money so soon after extending the current tax in November.[10]

A "No on A" website said, "Against a backdrop of high unemployment rates, tight family budgets, and difficult economic circumstances in general -- and despite voters having agreed just last November to make an existing $189 parcel tax permanent -- the Acalanes Union High School District now wants even more of your money !!!"

District resident Wendy Lack expressed concern that the school district is illegally using school "district funds, services, supplies, or equipment" to urge a "yes" vote on Measure A. California's Election Code prohibits government agencies, such as school districts, from advocating for a "yes" or "no" vote with tax dollars, although school districts are allowed to provide information if it "constitutes an accurate, fair, and impartial presentation of relevant facts to aid the voters in reaching an informed judgment regarding the ballot measure."[11]

According to Lack, "Brazen district officials have inundated parents with a steady stream of campaign communications — including overt electioneering on the district's website — supplying voters with inaccurate, unfair, partial and partisan information disguised as 'neutral facts.' These propagandizing tactics add insult to injury to taxpayers already weary from Acalanes' frequent campaigns for ever-higher taxpayer shakedowns and loan-shark-priced-bonds to feed its coffers. Notably, at least two items posted on AUHSD's 'Budget and Measure A Facts' page overtly urge yes votes. In addition, a recent "Yes on A" campaign mailing was signed by four AUHSD principals using the authority of their positions as electioneering leverage in an outrageous abuse of power."[11]


The school district paid a polling firm, The Center for Community Opinion, $26,750 to conduct a phone survey to guage support for a possible parcel tax.[12]

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