Measure M would keep parcel tax alive 

The cash-strapped Ravenswood City School District has a tough time retaining teachers, which is one reason district leaders are hoping voters will extend a $98 parcel tax that helps pay salaries for the educators.

Measure M, on Tuesday’s ballot, would continue a tax voters approved in 2004 to boost pay for teachers in the district’s elementary schools. It requires two-thirds approval to pass.

If it passes, homeowners would continue to pay $98 per parcel per year until June 30, 2014. If it is voted down, the existing tax will end June 30, 2009.

The Ravenswood district serves K-8 students in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, and its revenues are based entirely on student enrollment, trustee John Bostic said. Enrollment has dropped from a high of 5,393 students in 1999-2000 to 4,607 in the 2006-07 school year, according to data from the California Department of Education.

"Around us are Atherton and Menlo Park’s school districts, which get their money from the local tax base," Bostic said. "It doesn’t take much to lure a teacher away to a neighboring district."

Starting salaries in the Ravenswood district range from $41,297 for a teacher out of college to $73,299 for a candidate with 15 years’ experience and 75 credits beyond a bachelor’s degree, said James Lovelace, human resources director for the district. Teachers made 4 percent less than the current figures before the parcel tax was adopted.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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