Two school parcel tax measures on the November 3 ballot, Measure G in the Acalanes Union High School District, and Measure H, in the Walnut Creek School District, received a strong endorsement from the Contra Costa Times. And school leaders in both districts, of course, support the measures, as does the Walnut Creek City Council and Chamber of Commerce.
The measures require approval from two thirds of voters to pass. What is somewhat unusual about these measures is that they would permanently extend the taxes, rather than impose sunset provisions, as in the past. Currently, Walnut Creek’s $82-per-parcel tax and Acalanes’ $189-per-parcel tax are due to expire in 2011.
“These are challenging times for public school officials as they watch their funding shrink drastically because of the fiscal crisis in Sacramento,” says the editorial in the Contra Costa Times. “In an ideal world, the state would equitably fund our schools, ensuring that all students have similar access to quality education. Unfortunately, we don't live in such a world. School districts are partially funded by the state and then left to make up shortfalls on their own.
The parcel tax for the Acalanes district--which includes Walnut Creek’s downtown Las Lomas High School-- brings in about $6.7 million a year. The district’s budget has dropped about $5 million in the past year to $49 million. The Walnut Creek tax brings in about $1.2 million a year, which would help offset the district’s loss in the past year of about $3 million.
Proponents of G&H say that investing in Walnut Creek schools is necessary to provide local children a quality public education. “The Walnut Creek School District and Acalanes Union High School District are consistently among the top-ranked school districts in California.”
Proponents also say that good public schools contribute to our town’s overall economic vitality. That is, all property owners benefit from quality schools. “Currently, home values in our community are strong and maintaining value in large part because homebuyers are motivated to live within these two districts.”
For more information about the measures, visit the Yes on G&H website.