East Bay voters deciding on parcel taxes

April 27, 2011 6:39:35 PM PDT
With Sacramento spending less money on public education cities and school districts are putting more parcel taxes on the ballot to make ends meet.

Voters in Union City and Lafayette have until Tuesday to make their decisions.

The New Haven School District in Union City has managed to keep class sizes small with only 20 students in kindergarten and 25 in first, second and third grades. To keep those numbers, the district wants to levy a parcel tax of $180 a year over four years

"We're pushing the envelope to convince people that this is worthwhile because the money stays here, it's for our kids, and Sacramento can't touch it," Measure B campaign chairman Richard Valle said.

The $3 million they hope to collect annually will help keep instructional days at 180 a year and maintain after school programs. This would not have been an issue if Sacramento kept cuts to education at a minimum and the governor's proposal to extend taxes would have made it on the June ballot.

"The tax extension hasn't gone through. We've been reduced over 20 percent already from the state and so, with the tax extension not going through, it's about 25 percent of our funding's missing, and we're still asked to educate all the same children for the entire school year with 25 percent less money," explained Charmaine Kawaguchi with the New Haven Teachers Associaton.

Like Union City, Lafayette also has a mail-in parcel tax measure to keep core programs. There, they are asking for $175 annually over four years. In both cities, property owners over 65 would be exempt from the tax. Union City's parcel tax would not save the middle school and high school libraries which were axed in early March. That is why Christine Smith says she is voting against Measure B.

"The library which I used, they are going to be closed, middle school and high school, and that would be some place where they should spend the money," she said.

On the other hand, Art Cipirano voted yes. He says he wants to invest in keeping what is left.

"The property value goes up when the school districts are good and this is a very good school district. So, I'd be very happy to support it," he said.

The ballots need to be postmarked no later than Tuesday.

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