February 9, 2010

Would you vote yes to new parcel taxes to support local public school districts?

So, once again, the state is in a financial crisis, and the budget numbers don't look good for local governments, including local school districts. Millions of dollars in shortfalls are being reported by school districts that serve Walnut Creek. The board for the Acalanes Union High School District, which includes Las Lomas and Acalanes high schools, has just approved putting another parcel tax measure on the ballot May 4.

Faced with a shortfall of nearly $5 million, the district is seeking a temporary $112-per parcel tax. But, just in November, the district won an extension of its $189-per parcel tax. District officials didn’t ask property owners for more money on the November ballot because they didn’t know how severe cuts would be in the coming year.

With things looking disastrous in Sacramento, the district faces cutting 57 teaching, counseling and staff positions. The temporary parcel tax would go on a May 4 mail-in ballot. Another $800,000, the district hopes, would come from parent club donations.

By the way, parcel taxes need two-thirds voter approval to pass, not just a simple majority. Many parents in this district, which has some of the Bay Area's top-ranked schools, are well off, and the high school and elementary school districts enjoy a long history of community fundraising and parent support.

If you would be affected by this parcel tax election, how would you vote? If you live in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, would you support a parcel tax to help that district dig its way out of the financial hole it is in? Last spring, the majority of voters in the Mt. Diablo district said yes to a parcel tax, but the measure failed to get a third-thirds approval.

As for the Walnut Creek School District, it already has an $82-per-parcel tax, which voters approved to extend in November. That tax will bring in about $1.2 million annually. However, this district faces a $1 million shortfall. To get input from teachers, parents, and the rest of the community, it has been holding a series of "Budget 101" meetings. Some meetings have already been held, but here are dates for future ones: 
--Tuesday, March 16, 7 p.m. Murwood Elementary
--Wednesday, March 17, 7 p.m. Walnut Creek Intermediate
--Thursday, April 1, Walnut Heights Elementary


Madame Zorba said...

Remember Madame Zorba's prediction from Nov 2, 2009

Madame Zorba predicts that the District (or some well-intentioned citizen) will be asking for even more money next year - - whether Measure G passes or not.
If G does NOT pass, a new Measure will absolutely find it's way onto the ballot. My crystal ball says that the future measure will be for an amount higher than $189 - - as punishment for not passing G ????

Even if G passes, the district still faces cutbacks. They will threaten to increase class size or threaten to cut some popular music/choral program, and thus a new 2010 Measure will be introduced asking for more funds.
Folks who think that a Yes vote on G makes everything all better, and that it merely continues the current parcel tax will be surprised, but not Madame Zorba.
Remember this prediction.

The real question to ask is why the district (or whoever the entity is) didn't request a more realistic and slightly higher amount in the first place. Oh yeah, because then proponents couldn't claim that Measure G is merely a continuation of current tax, not a "new" tax -- even though it is a "new" tax, with no expiration date.
This reminds Madame Zorba of the recent 1 cent postage increase. How stupid was that.
Why not ask for the real amount fairly and up-front? Madame Zorba is tired of going to the polls!!

November 2, 2009 5:57 PM

Masterlock said...

I would vote yes, this morning, because of the extraordinary times and challenges our state and schools are facing. At some point, though, the answer to every hole in the government's budget can't be coming to the community with a hand out.

Beau Hunk said...

Taxed Enough Already!

If the answer to every school funding problem is "More Taxes!" then the wrong question is being asked. For example, how about asking this question:

"How many administrators do we lay off and how many poorly-performing, but tenured, teachers do we lay off?"

There are many other good questions which are being ignored.

Anonymous said...

No. I will vote no. And, I'm a strong supporter of education. I think a very significant problem is the lack of disclosure to the public several years ago. These problems are not overnight problems. Management and planners knew all along about these problems. No overnight fix. Even a parcel tax is far from the solution. No new taxes.

Anonymous said...

I won't vote to support any school parcel taxes until I start seeing significant cuts in the California budget.

This would NOT include passing the $200B California Universal Health Care Act.

What a joke our CA gov. is.

Anonymous said...

I will vote for additional school taxes if I consider the arguments valid.

Like cities and counties, schools have been robbed by the State, forcing the current crisis. The belts were already tight in all of those local agencies.

Anonymous said...

In a word......NO.

Anonymous said...

I will vote no. I prefer my money go to my local schools in WC and not anywhere else. I would rather buy 500 cookies at a bake sale. I think this help more than throwing out a few bucks to some poorly managed bloated administration.

Jojo Potato said...

I'll vote yes, but I don't think it has much chance passing. Too many trips to the well. I just spent a few minutes looking at the WCSD web site looking for a budget. This money discussion would be a lot more rational if they would make that information easily available.

Anonymous said...

Yes, particularly if we could pay them to WCSD as opposed to MDUSD!

Love, the rest of Walnut Creek.

Anonymous said...

No! No! No!
I already give time and lots of money to the schools. Teachers are passing off their classroom work as extra homework. And perhaps they should work all weekdays as teaching days instead of using Wednesday or whatever day as "teacher collaboration." All companies have cut the fat, the school should too.

Anonymous said...

Well in the MDUSD any money for a parcel tax gets an attorny a new raise. Thats just how it works over here according to our wonderful board.

Anonymous said...

What new parcel tax? MDUSD voters are too stupid to vote for a parcel tax! They don't understand that the parcel tax committee of citizens would determine how to spend the money. I guess MDUSD citizens don't care that there won't be enough health professionals, service providers (mechanics, electricians, etc.) to support us in 10 years because these programs are being cut.

Masterlock said...

So according to this poll of bored people on computers during the work day, a new parcel tax would go down in flames. There you have it.

Anonymous said...

We have to realize that schools raise our children. When schools are underfunded, children do not get as good of an education. The less funding a school has, the lower the quality of education. This could lead to more drop-outs. When kids drop-out it could lead to more problems such as juvenile crime. Just look at the underfunded MDUSD.

They have more problems with kids that are out on the streets because they have dropped out. The best way to prevent the slippery slope to juvenile crime is to keep kids in school with a high quality education. If they aren't in schools, they are on the street causing trouble for us all.

When they cut sports programs, kids have less things to do to keep them off the streets. When kids are on the street more often, it could lead to gangs and trouble making.

You may think that saving money on taxes will benefit you, but just watch as juvenile crime increases. More kids are on the street and without an education more kids will turn to crime. If you look at criminals, most of them are drop-outs. The education system failed them, and led to their downfall.

Education is an investment in our own public safety. If kids can't get an education, they will turn to selling drugs and gangs.

Rich cities like San Ramon have better funded schools and the crime rates are lower. Look at underfunded school districts. The crime rate is much higher. The best way to prevent future criminality is to keep kids in school with more school funding. It is for the safety of us all.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:38 is the most ridiculous, and sad, post I've read in awhile.

No, we do not "have to realize that schools raise our children". WE raise our children, or at least we should. This duty should not be pawned off to the state. Crime rates are lower where parents are more involved with their children.

I know where my teenagers are every hour of the day...they are either in school, at church, at home with us, or with friends that we know and approve of. We watch tv together (can't wait for the Olympics to start this week), play board games, go on walks, bike rides, etc... We eat dinner together pratically every evening. Consequently, I don't worry about my teens being arrested or showing up in juvi.

It's not that hard people. Spend time with your kids and be aware of their activities and you'll head off most problems.

Anonymous said...


What a stern lecture.

Perhaps you are the exception. For most families, schools play an extremely important role that is complimentary to parental training. Where I taught (many years ago and elsewhere) there was only just enough funding to get by but the effort was always to succeed.

When I see the state government's takeaways now, I don't think the entire problem is with mismanagement of funds at our local school district level.

Former teacher

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:15...What you call stern I call sensible.

Anyone who thinks the school system is going to raise their children is going to be sorely disappointed.

Anonymous said...

5:43 pm -

I agree with you. That posting was very sensible and from the heart.

We need more parents like this couple who play a very active role in raising their children. Expecting the school system and society in general to raise your children is giving up the most important job in life and is not fair to the kids.

Anonymous said...

Immediate Prior Posters:

"I know where my teenagers are every hour of the day...they are either in school, at church, at home with us, or with friends that we know and approve of. We watch tv together (can't wait for the Olympics to start this week), play board games, go on walks, bike rides, etc... We eat dinner together pratically every evening. Consequently, I don't worry about my teens being arrested or showing up in juvi."

I present you a question. What about a single parent working full-time or on two jobs (even both parents working one or two jobs each) that really cannot afford cell phones for everyone and doesn't get home until late? Any sympathy for people in difficult situations just paying for rent or food, much less medical care. Should these people feel guilty for relying a bit on social services such as schools and community recreation opportunities? Or, is it just "I've got mine, Jack. Too bad if you don't."?

Former teacher

Anonymous said...

Former Teacher

I grew up pretty poor on a small farm where my mother and father both worked pretty darned hard pay the bills. Their priority in life however, was to raise their children with love, plenty of attention and an expectation that we kids would pitch in and help where needed........after homework was done of course. They somehow found time to be active in our school activities also. Maybe material things were not as important as they seem to be now which is why we always bought used cars and wore hand-me-downs with no shame.

Damn, we had a good life and we are still a very close family because of my parents' taking the responsibility for our upbringing. Yes, there was a safety net of friends, teachers, preachers etc. who were there if we needed it but to parents in the "old days" raising their kids came first and for that I thank them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:00

How can you leave your teenage children unsupervised at the church? Isn't that the place where children get molested? At least from all the news reports it seems that the chances of that are much higher than that they would get assaulted over Saturday lunch at the WC Buckhorn Grill and since last weekend we now know that it is not safe to enjoy your tri tip sandwich there without a gun strapped to your fat belly.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your fortunate upbringing. Your parents had you in a semi-isolated environment and they were pretty close. My upbringing wasn't that different for part of the time as I grew up. Then we moved to the big city and what a difference. Your rural environment was very different than that faced here and now. The kids can't go out and play in the fields anymore around here. Take a minute to think about the real and difficult situation faced by many people and try to be at least a little sympathetic.

Of course none of the affected parents in these difficult situations is seeing the discusson anyway. So, I guess I'm wasting my time on a discussion with those who have already made up their minds.

Signing off,

Former teacher

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:29...another sad and bitter liberal.

Anonymous said...

Former Teacher,

Sometimes people get into bad situations as a result of poor choices, bad luck, or both, and it just can't be fixed. I agree with Anon 7:13 that a "safety net of friends, teachers, preachers etc" is extremely important, especially if you cannot be with your children all the time.

You do what you can to make it work, but expecting the school to raise your children, and for the taxpayers to pick up the tab, is not acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:29
I said schools are PART of the equation, not all of it. I pull for the people that are doing their best in spite of a difficult situation.
So glad I got away and went back to grad school so I didn't have to deal with the know-it-alls anymore. I got the kind of salary that the negative posters make and did not have to work as hard as I did as a teacher but I still vote for schools.
Former teacher

Anonymous said...

Schools are 'loco parentis,' meaning while children are in school during school hours, the faculty and administration are taking the parents place. Teachers and administration act in many aspects as parents: they instruct, they discipline, they obtain medical care when necessary (remember, we all give them permission).

When I was a kid, teachers were treated with deference. If a kid and a teacher had a disagreement, the teacher always got the benefit of the doubt unless the child could prove otherwise.

So, while I don't agree that schools 'raise' our children, I don't agree with Stern Mom either. Unless she's joined at the hip to her kids or homeschools them, her children's teachers are co-parenting in a way.

Parents and schools raise children jointly, in a way.

As far a a parcel tax, communities with good public schools that afford children ample academic and extracurricular activities are obviously better for the students, and help maintain or increase property values.

Piedmont pays nearly $2500/month in parcel taxes for their schools, and it shows.

You either want to spend that extra $200 on a dinner or on your kids. It's a simple, straight-forward choice.

I don't blame the districts. They weren't part of California's economic meltdown, and there was nothing they could do about it. The school districts don't have any choice in how much money they get from the state.

Our schools don't have the choice, but we do.

beau hunk said...

Anon 2:38 said that "Rich cities like San Ramon have better funded schools and the crime rates are lower."

You really don't have the slightest idea how schools REALLY are funded, do you?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:35 said "Piedmont pays nearly $2500/month in parcel taxes for their schools, and it shows.

You either want to spend that extra $200 on a dinner or on your kids. It's a simple, straight-forward choice."

Ok...I'm assuming the $2500 per month is a typo, and you meant $250a month? That's still pretty steep, especially for the aforementioned single mom who can't afford a cell phone.

Also, I'm not sure where you eat out, but $200 for dinner with your kids is also pretty steep.

I won't vote for anymore money in parcel taxes because state will simply take more and more. We have a deeper structural issue that must be addressed. Parcel taxes can't begin to cover the hole we're in.

Anonymous said...

At least if you (WCSD) vote for another parcel tax you can be reasonably assured that the corrupt school board won't just give the attorney and adminstrators a big raise.

We seriously have to consider that over here in the MDUSD.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 'gay' member of my community. I always vote For Education!. Also give to the food bank and meals on wheels.

That's what I deem part of being part of my community.

Anonymous said...

Both parents and schools play a part in raising children. Some parents are involved in their children's lives and play a big role in their moral values and social adjustment. However, when I was in public school there were many children with parents who just did not care.

Some parents were distant and did not spend much time with their children. Basically the parents dropped the kids off at school and expected the school to babysit them and teach them values. You can tell that these kids were not going to turn out very well at all. These are the kids that got involved in risky activities and they were influenced by their trouble making friends at school. Drug dealing, stealing, sex, etc.

While there are some good parents, there are many parents who just don't keep track of their kids. They assume their kids are good kids, but at school they are using drugs and they are having sex behind their parents' backs. Yes, I have known kids who went to church and acted properly around their parents, but when the parents were not around, the kids were experimenting in sex and drugs.

There is a great deal of hidden trouble making that goes on behind parents' backs. Teenagers live in a culture that glamorizes casual sex and drugs. At schools, kids are influenced by peer pressure. Kids spend many hours of the day around other teens who give them ideas on sex and drugs. Parents claim to raise their kids, but in reality parent's cannot keep track of their kids all day long. School time is the most vulnerable time and when schools are underfunded there is less of a chance that teachers will weed out trouble making kids. Those trouble makers are at every single school selling drugs(even prescription pills stolen from parents), pressuring young kids into sex, and even bullying other kids.

Teenagers keep secrets from their parents and no matter how involved a parent is, you cannot keep track of your kids 24 hours a day. School time is when kids are most vulnerable to peer pressure and fooling around. Are your kids fooling around? One out of 4 teen girls has a sexually transmitted disease. You may not think it is your kid, but there is lot going on behind your backs.

Anonymous said...

" You may not think it is your kid, but there is lot going on behind your backs."

Sorry, I don't agree.

Anonymous said...


I did err. I meant $2500/YEAR not MONTH. If you don't spend $200 on a dinner, then shave off two or three outings in a year.

An increased parcel tax may not save the district entirely, but it will help close the gap.

It's all about one's priorities.

Anonymous said...

The real problem are parents who have deferred raising their children to the schools. That's both sad and pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Everybody needs to compromise, specially the teachers union they are big part of the problem. Get educated on how their pension plans are bankrupting the state. In the real world we have to pay for our retirement it's called 401K plan. With all the laws surrounding lay offs the teachers that are terrible but have seniority stay only because the union protects them, how is this serving our kids? Raise the retirement age and put them to work during the summer, why do they get this time off. It's time to get rid of the Teachers Union!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree!

"It's remarkably difficult to fire a tenured public school teacher in California, a Times investigation has found. The path can be laborious and labyrinthine, in some cases involving years of investigation, union grievances, administrative appeals, court challenges and re-hearings."

To read more link to:,0,679507.story

Anonymous said...

Everyone need's to get educated on cost associated with teachers compensation. CA is at a critical point and unions need reform, specially the powerful TEACHER and PRISON UNIONS that have taken the state hostage with their demands.

Read this article from MARK SCOLFORO Associated Press Writer:
"Pew said states should consider changes that have proven to be effective and politically viable. Among them: setting minimum contribution levels that are actuarially sound, sharing some of the investment risk with employees, cutting benefits, increasing the minimum retirement age, making employees pay more into the system and providing more robust oversight and investment rules.

Mitchell said many states have constitutional prohibitions against lowering employee pension benefits, but health care programs can more easily be altered."

To read more link to:,0,3754451.story