Politics

Bay Area voters turn out in support of education

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

At a time when people don't want to be taxed, Bay Area voters showed they are willing to reach into their pockets for education. At least 20 of 24 school parcel taxes won at the polls Tuesday.

Voters have seen larger class sizes, they've seen music and art programs go away and some districts have had furlough days, meaning kids aren't being taught. So what they are realizing is that the money is not coming from anywhere else and according to California Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson, they are willing to invest in schools.

The Ross Valley School District covers Fairfax and San Anselmo in Marin County. Voters were asked to extend a parcel tax for another eight years and increase it by $149 for a total of $458 a year. The measure received 73 percent of the votes -- exceeding the necessary two-thirds to pass.

You didn't have to convince the parents. They've seen what budget cut and large class sizes look like.

"They would like to prioritize keeping our class sizes smal, so they spoke to us through passing this measure," school board President Chris Carlucci said.

The parcel tax will continue to fund the three elementary schools and the one middle school and ensure that class sizes remain intact.

Parents like Andrea Sumits then had to convince the rest of the community.

"The broader community also got that if the quality of education goes down, then the property values will also go down, so it was in everyone's interest," Sumits said. "The community was really supportive."

There were about 20 bond and parcel tax measures in the Bay Area affecting schools. Only three did not pass.

Steve Jubb is with Pivot Learning Partners, an education reform non-profit.

"I think it signals a shift; I think the bottom has been hit," he said.

Jubb believes voters have finally realized the cuts have been severe and no one is coming to the aid of school districts.

"We're seeing a crisis that is going to impact the next generation that we're counting on to be our tax base," he said. "So we really can't afford to have young people exiting school not ready to be members of our economy and our democratic process."

Voters were not that generous with other measures. Take for instance, Ross, also in Marin County. There, voters rejected Measure C -- another parcel tax but for public safety. So, there is still an anti-tax sentiment among many voters but this time, it seems, not toward education.

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Tags:
school cuts, taxes, elections, politics, lyanne melendez
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