Updated: Fri, Mar 6, 2009, 11:08 am
Uploaded: Thu, Mar 5, 2009, 8:28 pm
Pleasanton school board votes to place $233 parcel tax on June 2 ballot
Annual tax would start July 1, expire four years later
The Pleasanton school board agreed last night to ask voters to approve a $233 a year parcel tax in a special election June 2. If approved by at least two-thirds of the voters who cast ballots in the election, the tax would take effect July 1.
The tax would expire after four years and its use would be monitored by both the school board and a new seven-member oversight committee that would consist of Pleasanton residents who are paying the tax and who are not employees of the school district.
The ballot language would read as follows: "To preserve educational quality and protect Pleasanton schools from severe state budget cuts, keep class sizes small, maintain essential reading and math support programs, libraries, music, counselors, technology instruction, music, and safe, clean schools with no proceeds used for administrators' compensation, shall the Pleasanton Unified School District be authorized to levy an annual $233 parcel tax for four years, with guaranteed audits, senior and disabled exemptions, an independent citizens' oversight committee and all funds benefiting our Pleasanton students?"
From the ballot language, the district compiled a cost break down of the programs listed, totaling $4,584,000. Estimating 20,000 parcels and subtracting the county assessor's office fee of 1.7 percent ($77,928), they arrived at $233 per parcel. That list can be found here: Parcel Tax Breakdown
Board members, who voted unanimously to place the parcel tax proposal on the June ballot, said the funds are needed to lessen the impact of state budget cuts, which would reduce Pleasanton's funding by $8.7 million in fiscal 2009-10, which starts July 1.
The parcel tax, if approved, would be collected from property owners twice a year at the $233 annual rate. Seniors as well as those on disability could ask to be exempt from the tax by filing an exemption request and renewing it each year.
The school district has held several meetings to gauge the public's opinion on the issue. It has also received hundreds of emails. About 250 attended tonight's meeting in the multipurpose room of Amador Valley High School, where, as before, the majority of speakers said they are in favor of the tax to help maintain the current quality of education.
Already, a group called Save Pleasanton Schools has been organized to campaign for the parcel tax. It will hold its first rally at 4 p.m. Sunday at Valley Community Church on Del Valle Parkway.
Currently, no one has put together a committee opposing the parcel tax.
Jeb Bing contributed to this report.
Posted by Resident,
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2009 at 10:06 am
By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writer 47 mins ago
President Barack Obama speaks about education at the 19th Annual Legislative AP President Barack Obama speaks about education at the 19th Annual Legislative Conference of the United …
WASHINGTON President Barack Obama embraced merit pay for teachers Tuesday in spelling out a vision of education that will almost certainly alienate union backers.
Educators oppose charter schools because they divert tax dollars away from traditional public schools. Merit-based systems for teachers have for years been anathema to teachers' unions, a powerful force in the Democratic Party.
Obama acknowledged this in his talk to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
"Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom," he said, delivering the first major education speech of his presidency. "Too many in the Republican Party have opposed new investments in early education, despite compelling evidence of its importance."
But he argued that a far-reaching overhaul of the nation's education system is an economic imperative that can't wait, despite the urgency of the financial crisis and other pressing issues.
"Despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us," Obama said. "The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, unsustainable for our democracy, and unacceptable for our children. We cannot afford to let it continue. What is at stake is nothing less than the American dream."
The ideas the president promoted were nearly all elements of his campaign platform last year. He only barely mentioned the reauthorization of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, which introduced sweeping reforms that schools are struggling to meet without the funding to match. Obama said his administration would "later this year" ensure that schools get the funding they need and that the money is conditioned on results.
Among the principles Obama laid out were:
_Challenging states to adopt world-class standards rather than a specific standard. Obama's economic stimulus plan includes a $5 billion incentive fund to reward states for, among other things, boosting the quality of standards and state tests, and the president said the Education Department would create a fund to invest in innovation.
_Improved pre-kindergarten programs, including $5 billion in the stimulus plan to grow Head Start, expand child care access and do more for children with special needs. He also said he would offer 55,000 first-time parents regular visits from trained nurses and said that states that develop cutting-edge plans to raise the quality of early learning programs would get an Early Learning Challenge Grant, if Congress approves the new program.
_Reducing student dropout rates. To students, Obama said: "Don't even think about dropping out of school." But he said that reducing the dropout rates also requires turning around the worst schools, something he asked lawmakers, parents and teachers to make "our collective responsibility as Americans."
_Repeating his call for everyone to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training, with the goal of highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020.
On charter schools, he said the caps instituted by some states on how many are allowed aren't "good for our children, our economy, or our country."
Obama also spoke at length about what he described his policy toward teachers, what he called an `unprecedented commitment to ensure that anyone entrusted with educating our children is doing the job as well as it can be done." In up to 150 more school districts, Obama said, teachers will get mentoring, more money for improved student achievement and new responsibilities.
Also, Obama said, "We need to make sure our students have the teacher they need to be successful. That means states and school districts taking steps to move bad teachers out of the classroom. Let me be clear: if a teacher is given a chance but still does not improve, there is no excuse for that person to continue teaching."
The president acknowledged that a rethinking of the traditional American school day may not be welcome "not in my family, and probably not in yours" but is critical.
"The challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom," Obama said. "If they can do that in South Korea, we can do it right here in the United States of America."
After the speech, Obama stopped at a hotel to drop in on another meeting, an already scheduled and ongoing round-table discussion between Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which involves the heads of education from every state and U.S. territory.
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