Brisbane voters approve parcel tax to keep arts in schools 

The arts will stay in Brisbane.

In a special election Tuesday night, 68 percent of voters in the small town of 3,600 approved a measure extending and raising a parcel tax for local schools.

Beginning July 1, the tax will increase from $96 per year to $119 per year. It has been extended through 2016.

The approval means music and arts programs threatened with cuts will stay in the district schools.

The parcel tax was first introduced in 1999 to create an arts program in all classrooms as well as fund a music program that was in danger of being cut at the time. It was reapproved in 2005 by a two-thirds majority. The district received roughly $300,000 each year from the tax at the $96 rate.

Brisbane Elementary School District Superintendent Toni Presta said she couldn’t be happier with the results of the election.

“I was a classroom teacher in the 1990s when this first passed and the change was beautiful,” she said. “We had professional art teachers and music in the classroom. It was a really big change.”

Brisbane schools, with a population of 600 students, are facing a $500,000 deficit in its $7 million operating budget.

School board President Ken Walker said he was relieved once the final count came in from the county elections office.

“I don’t know what I would’ve told the kids if we had to cut their art and music program,” he said. “But now I don’t have to.”

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