New Haven Unified pitches parcel tax again

May 30, 2012 7:22:07 PM PDT
Here we go again -- Sacramento's budget cuts are forcing cities to put parcel taxes on the June ballot to fund their local schools. Hayward has Measure G, West Contra Costa, Measure K and Union City is hoping to pass Measure H. School districts warn without them, there will be dire consequences for education.

Some first graders at Alvarado Elementary in Union City are learning about money, while the school district tries to operate with fewer state dollars. Every year the district has been forced to make drastic cuts. For example, in just four years the district's budget has gone done down from $114 million to $88 million.

"Folks tell us live within your means, but that is a huge, huge cut to our means. When you're trying to educate 13,000 children that's a lot of money," said Rick LaPlante from the New Haven Unified School District.

That's why the New Haven Unified School District is supporting Measure H, a parcel tax that would raise $3 million a year for schools. It's not enough to get where they were before, but that money will help save some programs.

"Our libraries, our elementary science classes, kindergarten to third grade will go up to 30 next year," said Charmaine Kawaguchi with the New Haven Teachers Association.

That would put added pressure on teachers and students.

"The kids definitively lose. In the past we've had 20 kids in the classroom and it's very manageable," said Vince Lindain, a teacher.

In order to balance this year's budget, about teachers in this district have been laid off.

"I have 10 here at the site. I believe I am the school with the most," said Tracie Noriega, the Alvarado Elementary School principal.

Measure H would help Lindain keep his job.

The parcel tax would add $180 to a homeowner's tax bill, that's $15 a month. Last year a similar parcel tax failed by only a few votes.

Some Union City residents would like to see cities and school districts come up with creative ways to raise revenue without raising taxes.

"We are piling on more stuff on people that are going maybe month to month or week to week or however they are surviving," said Rommel Dingle, a Union City resident.

"We've used all of the traditional measures and then some to try to make this work, but there are very few options for schools district to raise money locally and the parcel tax is one of them," said LaPlante.

The election is on June 5.


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