Dublin Unified School District voters have recently started casting their ballots in the mail-only special election on whether to renew the district's existing $96-per-parcel tax for another nine years.
In place since 2008 and set to expire in June if not extended, the tax raises approximately $1.7 million each year, according to supporters, who note that those dollars go toward general funding for Dublin's public schools and argue the funding is vital to maintaining the district's quality of education.
Vote-by-mail ballots for the parcel tax renewal, on the ballot as Measure E, were released starting April 8, and registered voters have until May 7 to mail in their completed ballot or drop it off at designated locations. The voter registration deadline for the special election is April 30.
The ballot measure, which needs approval from two-thirds of the vote in order to pass, is going to voters amid a time of significant transition for DUSD leadership.
The DUSD Board of Trustees and third-year superintendent Leslie Boozer agreed to a surprise mutual separation for undisclosed reasons March 26, at a time when DUSD was already down to only three active school board members after two midterm resignations -- one of which prompted a petition to override an interim appointment for Trustee Area 4 in favor of a special election, now set for June 4.
The tax renewal was approved for the ballot in January, before interim trustee Nini Natarajan was ousted, before trustee Dan Cunningham abruptly resigned and at the recommendation of Boozer.
Supporters of Measure E say the parcel tax helps provide pivotal local funds to support DUSD students and schools and would not raise taxes on property owners, merely extend an existing tax, according to the argument in favor of Measure E included in the voter guide.
A coalition of Dublin community leaders signed the official "Yes on E" argument in the voter packet: former mayor Tim Sbranti, Dublin Partners in Education board president Sobia Qureshi, former DUSD superintendent Heinz Gewing, Cottonwood Creek K-8 principal Lorianne Ventura and former planning commissioner Rameet Kohli.
"We take pride in our outstanding teachers and the high level of reading, writing, math and science programs Dublin schools provide. Our students are in smaller class sizes, allowing for more individualized attention from teachers," they wrote in part.
"This is why Measure E is so important," they added. "Our schools rely on stable, locally-controlled funding to protect quality academic programs and high student achievement -- but this funding will expire in just a few months. Measure E will renew this critical local funding without increasing taxes."
No argument against Measure E was filed for the ballot package.
The parcel tax spending would be subject to oversight by a citizens' committee and funds could not go toward administrator salaries. There is also an exemption for Dublin seniors (65 years old or older) who own and occupy their parcel as their primary residence.
Originally approved by Dublin voters in 2008, the parcel tax was extended in 2014 for an additional five years with support from 79.4% of voters in that mail-only special election.
For the 2019 renewal, which would extend the tax through 2028, the ballot question asks voters:
"Without increasing the existing tax rate and to maintain high quality education for Dublin students by attracting/retaining qualified teachers; sustaining academic achievement in math, science, reading, writing, engineering, and technology; preventing class size increases; maintaining school libraries, instructional materials and classroom technology, shall Dublin Unified School District renew the expiring $96 parcel tax for nine years, raising $1,700,000 annually, with senior exemptions, independent oversight, no money for administrators' salaries and all funds for Dublin schools?"
Many voters now have their ballots in-hand, and some have already submitted theirs in the mail.
Registered voters have until May 7 to mail in their completed ballot or drop it off at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office in Oakland during normal business hours or at the accessible voting location to be set up in Dublin at The Wave Community Room (4201 Central Pkwy.) on May 4-7.
The deadline for residents to register to vote and to sign up for a vote-by-mail ballot for the special election is April 30 by 5 p.m. There will be no polling places utilized as this is a mail-only election.
To request a vote-by-mail ballot, call county election officials at 510-272-6973, visit www.acvote.org, mail or fax a written request to the county, or fill out and submit the application on the back of the voter information pamphlet.