OUSD votes to put parcel tax on ballot

July 30, 2010 7:59:49 PM PDT
Oakland homeowners will now be asked not once, but twice to raise their own taxes this fall. The school board has voted to put a parcel tax measure on the November ballot to increase teacher pay, following the lead of the police department.

Oakland teachers are the lowest paid in all of Alameda County -- the average salary is $54,000.

The school district agrees teachers deserve a raise, but budget cuts have taken away that possibility. So both the district and teachers are now turning to homeowners.

"The parcel tax would sunshine after 10 years. It's a $195 per parcel tax with an exemption for low income residents," said district spokesperson Troy Flint.

That's about $16 a month; roughly 53 cents a day. If it passes, it would fund a 6 percent salary increase for teachers.

Rosenda Thomas is with the Oakland Education Association and is also a kindergarten teacher.

"You know we have a high turnover of teachers leaving because of the low salaries, so in order to keep the good teachers that we have here, we have to invest in Oakland by supporting this measure," said Thomas.

On Monday, the City Council voted to put a $360 parcel tax on the ballot to rehire and retain police officers. It's called the dollar-a-day parcel tax.

Putting two parcel taxes on the November ballot is unusual for a city.

"There was communication between City Hall and City Council and the OUSD Board of Education, but ultimately we are at a time of really critical need," said Flint.

The district realizes these are hard economic times, but the decision to put the measure on the ballot was made after a survey found that Oakland voters would support this parcel tax.

The voters ABC7 spoke with said it won't be an easy sell.

"It's just hardship on everyone and it's all coming on the homeowner. Everything that is going on now, the homeowner is paying for it," said Oakland homeowner Reese Johnson.

"I have to think hard and deep about that second one. I really would. Voting for both would be difficult for me at this point," said Oakland homeowner Bill Milney.


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