Santa Clara County voters are supporting education, with more than $24 million in parcel taxes and bonds heading toward approval following Tuesday’s primary election. If passed, the school ballot measures would prevent spending cuts in curriculum, retain teachers and upgrade facilities.
Measure E—Milpitas Unified School District
Residents in the Milpitas Unified School District were asked to renew an $84 parcel tax for another eight years. It would raise about $1.6 million annually to help maintain academic programs and retain educators. The measure requires two-thirds voter approval to pass. Currently, 74.67% have said yes.
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Opponents say the district should budget better rather than ask residents for funds. Joe Dehn, chair of the Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County, said the tax makes up 1.2% of the district’s general fund.
“If the school board can’t figure out how to make their operation continue to work with such a tiny cut in revenue, they should be replaced,” he previously told San José Spotlight.
Milpitas residents appear to be in favor of the eight-year extension.
Measure G—Fremont Union High School District
Fremont Union High School District asked residents to approve a $275 million school bond to upgrade classrooms, labs and facilities. About $18.2 million annually, until 2052, would be raised at rates of 1.5 cents per $100 of assessed residential property values. It requires 55% voter approval to pass. Currently, it is just under the required majority at 54.38% of voters supporting the measure.
Graham Clark, deputy superintendent, said the vote is too close to call.
“We’re on pins and needles,” he told San José Spotlight.
Clark said the district is halfway through upgrading buildings between 50 and 100 years old and the funding is critical to continuing the work.
Mark Hinkle, president of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association, said bonds take decades to pay off.
Measure H—Mount Pleasant School District
Mount Pleasant School District asked residents to approve a $95 annual parcel tax for seven years. The tax will raise $480,000 annually for academic programs and keep libraries open. It needs two-thirds approval to pass. Currently, it is passing with 67.54% of voter support.
“California schools, in general, are underfunded,” District Superintendent Elida MacArthur previously told San José Spotlight. “Measure H has funded our library clerks to keep our school libraries open, and it has also supported smaller class sizes in first grade. We rely on these funds to deliver essential programs and services to our students.”
School district library clerks who were laid off pending the passing of the measure will be brought back to support students, MacArthur said.
Opponents say taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the school district’s insufficient funding. Dehn said in the long run, it’s not sustainable as school budgets will keep increasing.
“That means total taxes will keep going up—regardless of the details of how they are collected,” he previously told San José Spotlight.
Measure I—Alum Rock Union School District
Residents of the Alum Rock Union School District were asked to renew a $214 parcel tax for seven years, to be adjusted based on assessed property values. The tax is expected to raise $4.5 million annually for school programs and to retain teachers and counselors. The measure needs a two-thirds vote to pass. Currently, it is passing with 70.77% of voter support.
Opponents like Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said the district didn’t show how a budget increase is warranted, as 62.17% of students fall below the state average in English and 70.83% fall below the average in math.
“Please don’t reward failure with your hard-earned money,” Chavez and others wrote in the county voter guide. “Demand better academic results, and only then reward the District for their efforts.”
State Sen. Dave Cortese, school board trustee Corina Herrera-Loera, parents and educators said not approving the measure could remove $4.5 million from the district, resulting in budget cuts including laying off teachers and counselors, closing schools and losing academic programs.
Herrera-Loera is excited about the outpouring of support for the school district and students. She said the funds will allow the school district to focus on teacher housing and look beyond the classroom at issues that affect workers and families in East San Jose.
“This money will let us look into the future,” she told San José Spotlight, “and set that stability that our children and staff deserve at Alum Rock. It’s been too long we’ve been holding on to threads.”
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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