Campaign for school parcel tax under way 

The campaign for a parcel tax on school district property owners officially began Tuesday when the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved a mail-in ballot special election this May.

The proposed tax would bring in roughly $960,000 annually over five years for the financially struggling but academically excelling school district by taxing residential and commercial property owners $96 a year.

The election is set for Tuesday, May 8, 2007, and the parcel tax needs a two-thirds majority for approval.

In 1997, Pacifica voters approved $30 million in modernization bonds — money that just ran out — 71 percent to 29 percent at a time when a two-thirds majority was needed to pass them.

The district wants the parcel tax to help train, attract and retain quality teachers, enhance its library services and prevent additional cutbacks to instructional programs, having cut $1.2 million from its budget over the last six years.

Kathy Shiokari, the Parent Teacher Organization president for the Ocean Shores School, said people are afraid that the district will have to increase student-teacher ratios to bring in more state funding or that it will lose teachers.

"We’ve done everything right we can do, but now we’re at the breaking point," Shiokari said. "If we don’t have more funds it’s going to directly affect the classroom."

Don Eagleston, the Executive Vice President of the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce, said it was a typical tax measure and not likely to rile the business community.

dsmith@examiner.com

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