Just because a school tax failed does not mean the special interests will give up. The special interests, the bond companies and vendors for the construction, care about profits and work, not education or the bankrupting of families unable to pay higher taxes for lowered quality of education.
“Measures W and X, renewals of the parcel taxes due to expire at the end of the 2013 school year, which fund music, technology, and sciences, the board will have to consider whether to accept the loss or try to woo voters again.
Cash said their loss is nothing short of devastating. The district has already seen $20 million in cuts over the last four years and had been slashing even before then. Another $6 million will be on the chopping block this fall if Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiatives don’t pass.”
Here is an idea for Santa Barbara if they really want to have money for these programs—act like Wisconsin and stop the extortion of teachers and other education workers. The choice should be between protecting unions or educating children—when will California government make the “Wisconsin choice”? It is for the kids.
Failure of Santa Barbara schools parcel tax measures leaves many questions
By Nick C. Tonkin, Daily Sound, 6/9/12
The future of some Santa Barbara school programs hangs in limbo after the Tuesday failure of two parcel tax measures.
Measures W and X, renewals of the parcel taxes due to expire at the end of the 2013 school year, which fund music, technology, and sciences, the board will have to consider whether to accept the loss or try to woo voters again.
Cash said their loss is nothing short of devastating. The district has already seen $20 million in cuts over the last four years and had been slashing even before then. Another $6 million will be on the chopping block this fall if Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiatives don’t pass.
The elective studies funded by the previous parcel taxes had been one of the few bright spots in the district.
“But absent any additional funding from Sacramento, or from a private donor, or from the community through parcel taxes, it’s difficult to imagine those programs being able to be sustained,” Cash said.
Cash said the board could try to make another attempt to convince voters to pass the measures. The general election in November would be the soonest opportunity, and would still keep the programs intact.
Board of Education president Susan Deacon said she’d push for another ballot initiative.
“The truth is we don’t have an option,” Deacon said.
With W and X receiving 64 and 65 percent of the vote respectively, it was far from a crushing defeat, but still short of the 2/3 needed to pass. Cash said some provisional ballots have yet to be added and given the slim amount needed, there’s a small chance X could pull off an upset, allowing the elementary programs to continue.
Deacon said that at a margin like, a few hundred votes could have made all the difference. Cash noted that independent polling concerning the parcel taxes showed approval rates well above the 2/3 needed.
Both Deacon and Cash think that getting more voters to the polls may change things around.
Primaries are notorious for having lower turnout and some areas, like Isla Vista, had even lower than usual. Many current college students benefited from programs funded by the parcel taxes, all of whom would be in session during the November elections.
“That alone could have made the difference in our secondary district,” Deacon said.
But the November election also has its perils. The measures would find themselves alongside Governor Brown’s budget initiatives, also something the district needs to pass to avoid further cuts. Santa Barbara city voters would also see a sales tax proposal.
The combination could prove too much for voters, but Deacon thinks it’s a risk the board might have to take.
“We understand that we’re asking people to pay something and we don’t take it lightly,” Deacon said.
Ron Zecher is one of seven fulltime music teachers in the elementary schools. Zecher said the program, which takes children through choral, recorders, and string instruments, teaches children the value of teamwork, discipline, and other social skills while learning something fun.
“It’s a way in which children can learn and be motivated to cooperate and work together to create something beautiful,” Zecher said.
But without the parcel taxes, the future of the program is in jeopardy. And it doesn’t stop at music, the taxes have funded science materials, technology upgrades, and much more. Deacon said the new measures would also have supported new career and vocational training programs, like computer system design, automotive technology, and others.
“All of the kinds of things that make a student career ready when they leave school would have been supported if measure W had passed,” Deacon said.
That also makes options outside of November initiatives problematic. Calling a special election would be expensive and difficult to organize given that the district cannot campaign directly and has to rely on volunteers and outside support.
Waiting until the next regular elections is also a possibility but would terminate the programs for a year.
The board could also just let the programs die, but Cash said the district has already slashed the budget in every place it can. Efforts are being made to keep them out of the classroom but furlough days have been established and salary cuts are being implemented everywhere from top administrators to teachers in the classroom to cafeteria workers.
“Everybody is stepping up and taking a pay cut because we understand we’re in tough economic times,” Cash said.