Uploaded: Fri, Feb 12, 2010, 6:14 am
PTA Council circulating petition
Statewide initiative seeks change in super majority for parcel tax
While the budget challenges facing the school district is holding steady for now, a petition to lower the super majority requirement for a parcel tax is picking up steam.
Jeff Bowser, chair of the legislative committee for the Pleasanton PTA Council, officially kicked off the petition effort in Pleasanton as he spoke to the school board at Tuesday night's meeting. Passed through the crowd, it was signed by about 100 people.
One million signatures are needed across the state in order for it to be placed on the November ballot. The effort was started by a group of people from San Carlos after a try for a constitutional amendment (SCA 6) "died," according to Bowser. It has been endorsed by the California PTA.
If passed, the new initiative would change school parcel tax requirements to only need 55 percent of the votes. In order to qualify for the change, the tax would need to be approved by two-thirds of the governing body, be for $250 or less, offer a senior exemption and include a citizens audit and oversight committee.
Measure G, the most recent parcel tax attempt that failed in June, would have met the criteria this new initiative proposes and would have passed with the new majority, with 67 percent of the voters in favor.
"I it's a chance for us to take control of school funding locally," Bowser said. "This initiative would allow local districts to do this with a lower threshold. Look at Measure G, had a 64 percent success, but needed 67. Clearly a majority of the voters approved it. [The initiative would make it easier to implement the will of the voters."
To learn more about the Californians for Improved School Funding, visit www.improvedschoolfunding.com. The petition must be signed in person, which can be done by contacting Bowser at firstname.lastname@example.org or downloading a form from the website.
Bowser said they haven't yet developed an overall strategy on how to get the petition to be widely circulated through the city, but would likely seek volunteers through the PTA organizations.
Posted by P. Parsealot
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm
Most of my adult life I have been content to let my vote express my political intentions. No longer! I feel compelled, and now uphold a sense of civic duty not only to continue to vote my conscience, but I must also state my convictions regarding the issue of the proposed increased taxation, in this case, the 2nd round of proposed "parcel" taxes, which is essentially a form of "double" property taxation levied against the citizens of Pleasanton. We already pay taxes to the state to support education, and it goes against everything I stand for as an American to be taxed unnecessarily in addition to taxes I already pay.
I have followed the news regarding this issue and have come to some conclusions:
1. The school board seems to increase the amount of the budget deficit regularly. I first noticed a reported 3+ million dollar deficit that quickly increased to over 6 million dollars, and just this past week I've read of a deficit that is in the 9 million dollar range! I think the tail is wagging the dog here. Let's get our figures straight, or get the local newspapers to report factual deficit estimates.
2. This issue of pay for teachers/administrators. Let me first say as a private instructor myself, I believe the teachers of our children should receive a higher wage than most public servants. Their job is a noble profession, that is often quite thankless and sadly more often criticized too harshly by parents than praised. I am not anti-teacher, but I am currently against pay increases during these tough economic times. In fact, since Pleasanton teachers and administrators are paid well above the average for the state how about taking a pay decrease? My wife, who is a college professor has had to take a pay decrease (or face layoffs), and I have lost 40% of my monthly private teaching revenues. If we are all to live in a "village" then we all must sacrifice when the village is in need. Public servants cannot gain at the expense of the public proprietors.
3. The school board hired consultants to run a propaganda campaign to "convince" us that we should accept a "parcel" tax. And now I also see Jeff Browser of the local PTA has proposed lowering the majority percentage. In earlier reports it seems the propagandist suggested that this parcel tax be held in perpetuity in contrast to the original measure of 4 years to provide a more stable and consistent revenue source. To those opposed to this tax as I am be very aware of this wording! To the school board; we don't need convincing we simply reject your proposal. Please don't try to run a propaganda campaign to convince all of us who just can't seem to understand such a complex and complicated issue like a school board budget, and are too busy to really care - WE DO UNDERSTAND, AND WE DO CARE, AND WE WILL NOT BE COMPLACENT ANY LONGER! Also, the cost incurred to taxpayers for your propaganda campaign, as indicated would cost in the $100,000 range is money that could be well spent of those you are suppose to educate.
4. The growing school budget deficit. This is really quite simple. Balance the budget! Work within the funding that you are given by the state. I have to run my business on a monthly income budget, and if I run a deficit I wind up paying excess fees at the bank. If the funds the school district receives are not enough, then stronger lobbying efforts in Sacramento and our elected representatives should be the FIRST line of defense in securing the necessary funding to maintain a high quality of education in Pleasanton. Also, to state Senator Ellen Corbett, I'll keep your mind in name at the next election you will not be getting my vote! A business (or agency) that cannot balance its budget usually winds up in bankruptcy. I don't think the P.U.S.D. is "too big to fail." And if we have to "reboot" in order to set things right for our school district then that may not necessarily be an earth-shattering event.
5. Special or additional education programs. Special programs above and beyond the essential "fundamentals" of a state-managed education program should continue to be offered, but the parents of the children participating should be required to pay a tuition fee that helps support these programs. If parents are resistant to this, then there is always the option of private education that will more appropriately address your educational demands for your children.
6. I agree with fund-raising and other community efforts to raise funds for the P.U.S.D. I believe there are many compassionate people in Pleasanton who would be more than willing to provide altruistic support for our schools. However, that generosity may be lessened if additional taxes are levied by the school district. I've learned one thing about great leadership: In tough times the really great leaders can inspire people to greater things than they believed they could do. I do not believe the superintendent nor the board of trustees are doing everything within their abilities to achieve this end. Think outside of the box! Rather than focusing all efforts and energies, not to mention vital funds that could be better utilized elsewhere, on an already failed tax scheme that is going to be rejected again by the majority of citizens in Pleasanton, use your consultant/propagandist team to appeal to the generous nature of our residents. Speaking only for myself, I would be more willing to contribute possibly even more than the parcel tax amount to help the school meet its budget demands if it were requested voluntarily. I'm not hearing any campaigns locally to voluntarily support our schools. But if P.U.S.D. attempts to place the yoke of additional taxation around my neck, I will guarantee that I will not contribute one single cent more than what I am mandated. This proposed taxation will place a very unnecessary adversarial relationship between the school district, the administrators, and its teachers with the citizens of Pleasanton
I want to go on record that I will actively campaign against Mr. Brower's proposal, and any further ballot initiatives for a "parcel" tax in Pleasanton, be it for four years or in perpetuity. I am NOT anti-P.U.S.D.! My wife and I chose to live in Pleasanton precisely because of the excellent quality of education, and our girls have grown, graduated from college, and entered their respective careers.
Lastly, to the board, administrators, and teachers: You are servants of the people, we are NOT your servants, please keep this in mind. I categorically reject any claim to levy additional taxes on my property more than what I already pay. If P.U.S.D. needs more money to make the budget "crunch" then get additional funding from the state or make the hard and necessary cuts. If a scalpel doesn't work, then take a hatchet to the budget! Don't overlook the abundant charity of the citizens of Pleasanton, we are a generous people! But levy a tax on us and you'll have your pay.
I am just one person with one voice and one vote.