I sat in on a meeting last night in my city "Alameda". This is the second school parcel tax in 4 years proposed for the June ballot. We already have parcel taxes for our library and hospital! The controversy is that many homeowners are tired of an easy fix to slap another parcel tax on property owners instead of finding a way to tax all citizens in the city. Alameda owns our electric company and there is no reason why they can't impose a tax on our electric bill so that everyone pays for the schools! The problem is that our school board doesn't have a strategic plan and does not want to take the time to research and go forth with other options! The last parcel tax won by 51 votes. If the tax doesn't pass our schools are in trouble!! Wonder if it will pass this time! Do any of you have budget crunches with your schools?
After trotting out troubling statistics suggesting that Alameda's public schools are up against a financial wall, school board chief Bill Schaff asked the City Council Tuesday night to endorse the district's planned parcel tax.
School officials told the council that they are reluctantly pursuing the option of asking Alameda's property owners to dig deeper into their pockets to prop up local schools. The district is poised to lose roughly $4.5 million in state funding if the legislature approves Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed 10 percent across-the-board budget cuts. District officials told the council that California already ranks 47th out of the 50 states in per-pupil education funding and Schaff called the proposed cuts "simply not acceptable."
District officials maintain that their proposed June ballot measure would replace lost state funds with more local taxes.
According to Luz Cazares, the district's chief financial officer, Sacramento will slash $4.1 billion from statewide K-12 education in the coming fiscal year. Cazares said the cuts are harder to absorb than they seem owing to inflation.
The parcel tax, planned for a June ballot, seeks to add $120 to the property tax of all residential property in Alameda, with an exemption for seniors who request one in writing. Commercial property owners would be billed $.15 cents per square foot of improved property. The tax would last for four years.
Mayor Beverly Johnson blamed Sacramento's penchant for "redirecting" funds between various state accounts and using money for purposes other than they were intended. "Many more cities will be facing the same issues as we move into more difficult financial times," she said.
The council agreed to consider a resolution supporting the school board's parcel tax, dubbed Measure H, at a council meeting next month.
Johnson said the roller-coaster nature of school funding is a serious problem. "Every year students and teachers come back and wonder what programs are going to remain from last year. It's really not fair for our students.
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