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April 26, 2010

Yes or no: Time to mail in your ballot on Acalanes' "emergency" Measure A parcel tax ballot

Voters who live in the Acalanes Union High School District must get their Measure A parcel tax ballots mailed in by next Tuesday.  This is a mail-in ballot only, and the measure must receive a two-thirds majority to pass.

The district says it must cut its budget by $8 million. At risk are 50 teaching positions and science, foreign language, English, social studies, arts and math classes--unless this five-year $112-per-parcel tax passes. The district hopes to raise an additional $3.9 million with this funding. The district's existing parcel tax is $189 a year, so this $112 would be in addition to that. However, Measure A sunsets in five years. Residents who live in the Walnut Creek School District also pay an annual $82-per-parcel tax.

More than a loss of programs and classes is at risk, says John Stockton, the Acalanes superintendent. In a recent e-mail notice, he said that the district will also lose many dynamic new teachers and an environment that nurtures the professional growth of teachers and quality education for students.

"There is a great synergy attained at a school through the mixing of veteran and junior teachers," he writes. "The positive attributes of teachers with varying levels of experience continually refresh a school's environment. ... The professional cycle of learning now present in the Acalanes Union High School District is in great part responsible for the tremendous social and academic development of our students...."

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another bailout... great.

Anonymous said...

I vote no. The average homeowner cannot bailout all services in our community - and that includes schools. There will be reduced everything, city, county, state. We must accept these facts and adjust to a different way of life as we know it.

More money by way of parcel tax will not solve underlying problems with administration and other funding deficits. Homeowners cannot carry this burden. It isn't practical or sustainable. But is the average citizen even wise enough to understand that?

Anonymous said...

I am all for it. Education is suffering a horrible fate in this state. If I can give a few extra dollars to soften the blow in my neighborhood, then I am willing and proud to do it. I hope other districts can do it, too.

Dakota Soul

Anonymous said...

voted NO. Methinks there are some major accountability issues at this district. Let them clean house before coming, yet again, for more homeowners support.

Anonymous said...

VOTE NO.

There's no bottom to this pit

Anonymous said...

I'm voting Yes.

Anonymous said...

Just imagine if "the other half" of Walnut Creek, that's in Mt.Diablo school district, had a $271 parcel tax (or $383). Our entire city would be better off, with more teachers being employed, and everyone could share all these wonderful programs. More families would move to Walnut Creek, which would improve the city's economy. But "the other half" can't pass any parcel tax because Mt. Diablo district is too big.

If the Acalanes board had supported the 2008 petition to add Mt. Diablo to WCSD and Acalanes districts, then we (Northgate and the Geary Rd. area) would have been added to their parcel tax, and automatically we'd have MILLIONS more for all the Walnut Creek schools!

Anonymous said...

I'm voting no just on principle.

lorrielovesparties said...

I voted No. There are some truly terrible teachers who need to go. When a school keeps the bad and abusive teachers (because of the all powerful teacher's union) that sends a huge message to me as a parent and homeowner. When these terrible teachers retire, they will get a lifetime salary at taxpayer's expense.

Anonymous said...

Also voted no. I have always voted yes in the past, but why didn't they wait for the next election instead of making the citizens pay for this special one? If that's how they account for our $$, they they need to gain some respect for where it comes from.

Anonymous said...

I also voted NO, and I am glad to see other kindred folks here. Nevertheless, I expect this tax will pass. The Acalanes District sure has worked up all the parents into a frenzy with their alarmist threats in the various local newspapers. No more 7th period! No more AP classes! No more music! I have gotten 2 phone bank calls from local teens asking for my "support"; I wonder who paid for that? I am sure all the parents of high school students have already voted yes. I have received about 6 mailers to remind me to vote yes; who paid for that? I am sure that all the Rossmoor residents will vote yes, even though senior citizens are exempt from this tax. (Somehow, I feel that anyone exempt should not be allowed to vote - but that is just me. Also, as the senior exemption is "voluntary", I wonder how many seniors will opt "IN".)
Just thinking out loud. Thanks for the forum, Soccer Mom.

Anonymous said...

Voted yes. $$ from the State reduced budget by $8.0M annually in last 3 years. Admin cost as a % of revenue is 6% one of lowest in CA. #1 High school district in CA academically.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:03,

Thanks for the relevant facts. Very persuasive.

I'll vote Yes.

Castle Hill Bill said...

I moved here thirty years ago primarily for the excellent public school districts (WCSD & AUHSD) that my children would be attending school in. For the money, I know that I could have bought a lot more house in north Walnut Creek/Concord, but for a lower quality school district. There is no question that one of the major reasons that housing prices in the Acalanes Union High School District did not decrease as much as in other local areas and are now being pushed up due to increased demand is because families want to have a house in one of the best school district in the state and they pay top dollar for the privilege. I consider this parcel tax to be simply a service fee increase by the people who are managing one of my long term investments. Blaming the district administration, or bad teachers, or spoiled students for the high cost of public education is just a red herring. School funding has been drastically cut and our future, YOUR children, is being adversely threatened. They only get one childhood, let's give them the best education we can and keep our property values high at the same time. Please vote Yes like I did.

Anonymous said...

You go, Bil!

DS

Beau Hunk said...

If you are upset and angry that school funding has been cut by the state, then GO AFTER THE STATE!!!

Don't grab the nearest band-aid parcel tax increase to solve the problem, because when you do that, the "State" will say that there's no problem and the people are willing to tax themselves to make up for the shortfall.

And guess what? The "State" will reduce funding again, because they got away with it the first time.

Go to the state legislature and hold their feet to the fire. Keep your hands off my money because I don't want it used as a tourniquet for Sacramento's incompetence.

primo said...

No because of continued district malfeasance !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Vote out that board with all its taXPAYER FUNDED PERKS and retirement

Anonymous said...

Primo,

Your comment does not make any sense. Besides, adding multiple explanation points does not increase the value of your argument.

Show me the malfeasance, or the beef, if you will.

Anonymous said...

You are hurting your property values by voting no

Anonymous said...

And you're helping your personal financial situation by voting NO.

Anonymous said...

And seriously hindering the education of thousands of students

Anonymous said...

New book: The Grinch that stole our kids education"
"the average homeowner cannot bailout...blah, blah, blah". How easily some of this generation disclaims their adult responsibilities. Well, let them be "average". I strive to be "EXCELLENT" and I want the same for my children. If you want "average", move to the Mt. Diablo School District and let the rest of us work toward the betterment of our children here.

Anonymous said...

You just don't get it and you really do need to understand.

The Grinch who stole our kids education is the

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE!!!

Anonymous said...

The folks who voted "NO" because it hurts their personal finances should have studied their math and economics in the Acalanes School District. Where else can you pay $112 to prop up property values that are tens of thousands higher than our immediate neighbors? Where else can you give your kids such an extraordinary shot at increasing their lifetime earnings (and value to our society) by millions? Can you buy enough tutoring for $112 to make up for this? It's not a bailout - it's an investment.

Anonymous said...

The "legislature" didn't steal anything. "We" are the legislature, and if you voted for your favorite candidate because he promised you lower taxes or budget cuts, you have nobody to blame but yourself and your gullible neighbors.

Anonymous said...

The Rossmoor exemption is actually detrimental to Rossmoor property values. It only applies to seniors 65 or over, yet Rossmoor is open to seniors 55 and older. Anyone buying there who is under 65 will have to pay this additional tax along with a multitude of other similar taxes. Most Rossmoor residents don't realize this.

Medic Dave said...

Not only did I vote no. I voted HELL NO!

The unmitigated gall to put on a special election 1 month and 4 days before the regular election. (The excuse that they were trying to avoid pink slips is not good enough!) A colossal waste of money.

The economy is on the skids and the Acalanes Union High School District teachers are asking for yet ANOTHER parcel tax.

I have voted yes on every school measure, tax, what-have-you since I moved into Moraga in 1993. Not this time.

Welcome to the current reality, Mr. & Mrs. AUHSD Teacher. Everybody hurts. What makes you immune?

Anonymous said...

"The District has had 3 previous Parcel-Tax elections and 2 bond measures in just 10 years (all passing)."

"This 4th parcel tax proposal was introduced just three months after voters approved a $189 permanent parcel tax. The district said that measure would provide financial stability – obviously this was not true because they are now hitting us with another tax proposal."

"The District receives the highest revenue/student in the county."

"The District’s teacher salaries top out at $90,801, and average $75,477 – highest in the county."

"Using Mail-in ballots – costs about twice as much as if on primary election ballot one month later – tactic to insure low response."

Anonymous said...

VOTE YES!

Otherwise Miramonte's famous and very successful public speaking program will be CUT.

And the bad teachers won't go-- just the teachers who don't have tenure.

Anonymous said...

Tax every resident in 3+ cities so your kid can take public speaking at one school. How about donating the money for something important instead??

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I challenge any citizen of Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda to become involved with our local public schools to the level of being knowledgeable about the current budgets, the last 10 to 20 years of lack of State education funding, the effort that the families with children put forth to save our public schools from ruin and then to discuss and debate whether or not it's worth an extra 31 cents a day to keep our local schools as strong as they are...which if you are informed you know all our local schools are among the highest performing in the state with abysmal per student funding.

Please....let's all do each other a favor, and the thousands of others we impact....let's be conversant with facts before speaking, writing, or forming opinions. Let's really understand the issue BEFORE we VOTE. Please, people, let's get informed. You know what they say "only a stupid bird defecates in its own nest."

But I know, It's so much harder to do the work to understand the issues. And so so much easier to just lob opinions around, especially whiny ignorant ones.

Anonymous said...

by the way, for those who disparage the Acalanes School Board....Do any of you actually have any knowledge about the school board and the people who serve on it...??? First of all they are ALL VOLUNTEERS....and they spend hundreds of hours without thanks of any kind helping to build a stronger community through having solid, high performing schools that benefit all children living within the boundaries of the high school district. the same can be said for the Lafayette School District's Board.

It is shocking and tremendously disrespectful and rude to suggest anything negative about these generous volunteers who work tirelessly to benefit others without one shred of fact or evidence to support such claims and statements.

Someday, the kind of public servant that will opt in to such a position will be of the lowest caliber possible and then the statements and unsupported claims that are thrown around now, will actually have been prophecy. Who in the world will want to work for FREE for the benefit of others, and receive such thankless, rude, mindless comments?

It makes me ashamed of humankind.

Humankind. What an oxymoron that is these days.

Anonymous said...

12:11 and 12:25 The problem is that parents and school board members become co-opted into the system. They generally work for the administration as it exists. New solutions, such as K-12 are needed. There are wonderful parents, administrators, and board members..but they are all trying to do the same exact thing. Parcel taxes are an example of a worn- out model.

Anonymous said...

If the parcel tax does not pass, supporters should immediately make donations equivalent or more than the $112. Foundations are listed below:
http://www.orindaefo.org/
http://mef.moraga.k12.ca.us/
http://www.lasf.org/
http://www.wcefk12.org/
Opponents should look for alternative solutions in order to prevent future parcel taxes on the ballot.

Anonymous said...

2:30pm...You have a point, but the solution you suggest is a massive undertaking ..so what would you propose in the meantime while thousands students go to school every day in the system that exits? And how would you fund the change you suggest? Do you know all the systematic changes that would have to take place in order to unify the K-8 and 9-12 districts into one? Do you have any idea what the cost of that would be? And what a political nightmare it would be? Oy.

I also would argue that the schools functioned fine when the State provided the funding through a tax model that was working before prop 13....an unintended consequence of years of relatively static property taxes is the lack of adequate state funding, not to mention the fact that the meager funding that has been in place from the State has been seriously undermined by the economic crisis that exists in California. Does that mean our local district is not functioning well? That logic doesn't fly for me.

How is it that with local parcel and bond tax measures, our districts have performed extremely well if the system is broken? Doesn't that prove that in fact, if adequate funding is in place, the system is actually working exceptionally well. The AUHSD proves that point year after year by seeking local funds that go directly to helping the families that live locally. Frankly, I like the fact that local funds are controlled locally and benefit the residents that are taxed both in having a well educated populace, and as a secondary positive effect, by keeping home and property values from declining, and in fact appreciating, even in times of economic upheaval.

Anonymous said...

12:11- You forgot to include the good citizens of Walnut Creek. Half of the city is in AUHSD.

Anonymous said...

8:02 Yes, it may be a massive undertaking and this economy is dictating that massive changes need to be made. Would you support the idea of a Middle school district? How about adding an Elementary school district too! There are High school districts in California with 18 schools and over 30,000 students, that may be justified, but such a small district as AUHSD is hard to accept. There are some very talented administrators in the AUHSD that we shouldn't lose. The former superintendent is now in a.....K-12 district!

Anonymous said...

I am a student at Las Lomas and I want to say that the funding that this parcel tax is essential to my education. I am a junior now and almost every class I have sightned up for next year is on the chopping block. If I cannot take the advanced ap classes I need to be competative in my college apps next year I run the risk of not getting into my top pick colleges. We kids don't have the ability to vote yet so we have to ask you all to advocate for us.
One of the first comments on here ask who paid for phone banking and the mailers? Well volunteers used their own personal cell phones for phone banking and like any other campaign the MeasureA campaign was privately funded, so the campaign paid for all the reminders in the mail. I suppose this message is a little late, bu if you haven't yet sent in your ballot think about it and think about saying yes. Thanks!

AKA Soccer Mom said...

Dear Las Lomas student,
I will probably do a Measure A follow up tomorrow, and I would like to quote you.

Good luck with getting what you need to go to the college of your choice.

If you want to write more, or say more feel free to email me at crazyinsuburbia@gmail.com

AKA Soccer Mom said...

By the way,
Thanks to everyone for commenting, and providing lots of thoughtful input from different perspectives and viewpoints. I'm glad I was able to provide a forum for this discussion.