While support was the main response to a proposed parcel tax to benefit schools, it wasn't a slam-dunk decision by the Piedmont residents at a Saturday workshop.
The tax, which would be placed on the June 2 ballot if approved by the school board, would add an average of $382 to the current average of $2,082 that home owners pay, plus an annual 5 percent increase. The individual assessment would vary depending on the size and type of parcel. It would require a super majority vote (two-thirds of the votes) to pass.
After the roughly 65 attendees heard the presentation at the Veteran's Memorial Building, they gathered in groups and a spokesperson for each group reported the responses. Only one person was reported to being opposed to any tax, based on the difficulties people are facing with the tanking economy and the burgeoning unemployment rates.
Those attending said they wanted information from the school district regarding whether or not it is making the tough choices necessary to save money.
"We need more assessment of the effectiveness of our programs and evaluation of the teachers," said resident Catherine Ogle. "I favor high salaries, but are they all delivering?"
Some members of the groups suggested a parcel tax opt-out option for senior citizens. Others asked for upcoming information on what would happen to the proposed tax if state funding improved.
The assessment would not be a new one, but a renewal and an increase of a parcel tax already renewed six times since 1985 to continue to compensate for the ever-lagging state funds for school programs. Without the tax, layoffs would be inevitable, said Terry London, who co-chairs the Parcel Tax Advisory Committee with Sarah Pearson.
The money goes toward maintaining class-size reduction, music, library and athletic programs, counseling and facilities and a host of other educational services. The levy already pays for 27 percent of Piedmont schools services and programs, with donations bringing in another 6 percent. The state provides 65 percent of the funding and the federal government supplies 2 percent. The district's annual budget is $26.8 million.
The advisory committee held another public workshop Monday. The committee was to take the results of the workshops to the school board on Wednesday and the board is scheduled to vote on the proposal Feb. 24.
For details on the proposal, go to www.piedmont.k12.ca.us.