As schools across California continue to wrangle with state budget cuts, voters in three San Mateo County school districts will have their say in June about funding measures.
The Jefferson Union High School District in Daly City is proposing a $48 annual parcel tax that would run from July of this year until June 2016. The district calculates that it has lost $3.4 million in funding since 2008, and it stands to lose another $1.5 million. Measure Y would net $1.5 million for Jefferson Union’s five schools.
The tax is earmarked for teaching math, science, reading, writing and credit recovery, among other educational programs, according to paperwork the district filed with the San Mateo County Elections Office.
Lisa Davis, a volunteer with Yes on Measure Y, said the district is facing a crisis. Despite its proximity to Silicon Valley, she said, budget cuts are making it difficult to prepare students for high-tech jobs.
“It’s a crisis both for our students and what they need, preparing them for the future, but also for our community,” Davis said.
Down the Peninsula in Redwood City, the school board has proposed a $67 annual parcel tax to cover teaching reading, writing, math and science, and to help pay for teacher salaries and libraries. The tax would be levied for five years.
The Redwood City School District — which also includes San Carlos, Menlo Park, Atherton and Woodside — says it lost $13 million in state funding over the past five years, which forced it to cut 120 jobs. Measure W would earn the district an estimated $1.6 million to $1.7 million.
“We’ve pretty much spent reserves all the way down, as far as we can legally,” said Redwood City school board President Hilary Paulson. “Should funding not come through this year, it will be a whole different ballgame.”
In an argument against the measure filed with the Elections Office, the Libertarian Party said the district’s plan for spending the money was vague and families would struggle to pay the tax bill.
Meanwhile, the Cabrillo Unified School District in Half Moon Bay is seeking voter approval to issue$81 million in bonds to repair deteriorating school buildings.
The district, which is facing a $2 million deficit this year, expects to issue 40-year bonds, which would be paid back by taxes it estimates would cost property owners $45 per year for each $100,000 of assessed value for the life of the bonds. Projects covered by Measure S would include safety and seismic upgrades, repairs to leaky roofs and purchasing modern technology for classrooms.
Homeowners who are over the age of 65 or disabled are exempt from paying parcel taxes. Like all local tax measures, both parcel taxes require a two-thirds majority of votes. The bond measure must be approved by 55 percent of voters.
The statewide election is June 5, but early voting began May 7.