Culver City Observer -

By George Laase
Observer Columnist 

Remember Parcel Tax Measure EE?

 

January 18, 2018



The last time the community voted on a parcel tax it was back in 2009 when our state legislature thought it wise to drastically under-cut education funding to balance its own budget.

That’s when the state forced our school board to turn to local property owners and ask them for a $96 parcel tax to help tide the district through the recession by offsetting at least some of the state cuts.

Measure EE’s ballot description stated that it was … “To protect the quality of education in Culver City schools from deep state budget cuts by providing stable funding to maintain: math, science, technology, music and art programs; updated instructional materials; quality teachers; school libraries; and small class sizes; shall Culver City Unified School District levy an annual tax of $96.00 per parcel for five years only, with exemptions for seniors, independent oversight, no money for administrators, and all funds staying in Culver City to benefit our local schools?”

Sound Familiar?

Back then, who could argue against not funding any of those items? What voters didn’t know and were left in the dark about before voting was that the ballot description was not meant to be a prioritized list of what would be funded. Only later, when the board allocated the $1.2M raised, did local taxpayers find out that most of it (over 95%) was going to pay teacher salaries—82% going to Advance Placement programs. Other than salaries, only $44,500 (less than 4%) was spent on the general student population for updating instructional materials, school libraries and used to keep school facilities clean, safe and well-maintained.

Madison Avenue

If shrewd, misleading ballot practices continue, the Board’s newest measure will not be a prioritized list of what is needed, but, it will have a great sounding slogan, “It’s less than $10 a month.” Instead it’ll be just another nice sounding wish list of popular programs and school items that will help get the measure passed by voters.

Once Bitten… Twice Shy

This time around, before voting on it, the community should demand a prioritized list from the board members showing voters where the district’s needs are and how much of our tax dollars will be spent on each of them. The Board should already know what the needs are (they are asking us for that money, right?) and where they plan to spend it.

Enough, For A While

This way, the community should be able to see where its tax dollars will be spent. Hopefully, this time, these millions will be spent more directly on the over-all general student population and not in just using it to support or further increase district employees’ compensation more than the 46% gains they have already received over the past five years.

George Laase

 

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