Los Altos School District parcel tax, Measure E (May 2011)
Measure E will levy a parcel tax of $193 per parcel for six years. The $193 tax will be in addition to an existing $597 parcel tax, and will bring the total in annual parcel taxes going to the district to $790/parcel. The $193 tax is expected to generate $2.3 million a year in additional revenue for the school district.
A 2/3rds supermajority vote was required for approval.
- Election results from the Santa Clara County elections office as of May 10.
"Keep Los Altos Schools Strong (KLASS)" was a group of Measure E supporters. Jay Gill was a leader with KLASS. He said, "We have to have the community involved with the parcel tax, we have to have the parents involved with donations and the teachers with concessions."
Randy Kenyon is the assistant superintendent of business services for the Los Altos School District. He said that the district hired attorneys to write the ballot language for Measure E, pollsters to collect voter rolls to target voters through phone banks, and consultants to create messages for pamphlets about Measure E. According to Kenyon, "We need to go out to the community. That has helped spawn a little cottage industry of experts that help the districts make it through these elections. That’s not our business, running an election. I can’t imagine someone not using campaign consultants."
Specifically, the school district hired these consultants and paid them:
"LASD Taxpayers for Reform" was a group of Measure E opponents.
Los Altos Hills resident Courtenay C. Corrigan is a member of LASD Taxpayers for Reform. She said, "The Los Altos School District has a vehicle for raising funds – the Los Altos Educational Foundation. We already as citizens pay money to keep these schools running."
In the official voter pamphlet, Measure E opponents argued, "Our assessed property values have increased at a rate of over 8% annually for the last 10 years while student enrollment in the school district has only grown at 1% per year."
Ronald Haley opposed the tax. He wrote, "The proposed tax size was chosen via polling, not by perceived need. By 2016, LASD will still have an $8 million cumulative deficit. How do they intend to close this gap? They won’t say! Eighty-five percent of the budget is salaries and benefits. When was the last time that this union gave anything back? Immediately following passage of the last parcel tax, they closed a school. Superintendent Baier has refused to rule out school closings as a possible solution, yet he can’t, or won’t, tell us how he intends to close the gap."
Bullis Charter School
Leaders with the Bullis Charter School, a public charter in the Los Altos School District, while not taking an official position in opposition to Measure E, argued that if Measure E passes, an existing funding discrepancy between the charter and non-charter schools within the district would expand. Non-charter schools in the district get about $10,000/year per student from property taxes, while the Bullis Charter School gets somewhat more than $6,000 per student, for a funding gap of $3,739 per student.
With the approval of Measure E, the funding gap will widen from $3,739 per student to $4,292 per student, according to a study commissioned by Bullis.
According to Ken Moore, chairman of the Bullis School Board, "This is just another step in a pattern of inequity."
Wanny Hersey, the principal of Bullis Charter School, sent a letter about Measure E to parents at Bullis in which he said, "Any argument that passing Measure E would benefit [our] students by providing them with more space is highly suspect. The proposed parcel tax increase asks [our] families to pay additional taxes while simultaneously shortchanging them."
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
|MEASURE E: To protect excellent education in Los Altos elementary and Junior high schools; preserve core academic programs in reading, writing, math and science; retain highly qualified teachers; and provide books and classroom materials, shall Los Altos School District levy an annual education parcel tax of $193 per parcel for six years, with independent citizen oversight, no funds for administrators’ salaries, an exemption for senior citizens, and al funds used only for support of local elementary and junior high schools?|
The question on the ballot:
|MEASURE E: A fin de proteger la excelente educación en las escuelas primarias e intermedias de Los Altos; preservar los programas académicos principales en lectura, redacción, matemáticas y ciencias; retener a maestros altamente calificados; y proporcionar libros y materiales para las aulas, ¿Debe el Distrito Escolar de Los Altos gravar un impuesto anual a la parcela para educación de $193 por parcela durante seis años, con supervisión ciudadana independiente, sin fondos para salarios de administradores, con una exención para los ciudadanos de la tercera edad, y que todos los fondos se utilicen únicamente para apoyar a las escuelas primarias e intermedias locales?|
- Measure E voter information pamphlet
- List of May 3, 2011 Santa Clara County ballot measures
- KLASS campaign, website favoring Measure E
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Dave Pine voted San Mateo supe; school taxes pass," May 4, 2011
- Mercury News, "Los Altos charter school dispute enters Measure E debate," April 28, 2011
- Los Altos Online, "Measure E parcel tax campaigns spark debate," April 26, 2011
- New York Times, "School Districts Look to Parcel Taxes for Aid," April 28, 2011
- Bay Citizen, "School Districts Call in Cavalry of Consultants to Push Parcel Taxes," April 28, 2011
- Los Altos Patch, "Measure E: A Case Against the Parcel Tax," May 1, 2011
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.