One school construction bond and a school parcel tax appeared headed to victory late Tuesday while a $270 million bond measure in West Contra Costa was trailing, a sign that some East Bay voters were willing to dig deep to support education while others were in a belt-tightening mood this election.
With Measure H, the West Contra Costa school district sought to tap voters in Richmond, El Cerrito, Kensington, San Pablo, Pinole and Hercules for the seventh time since 1998, but the measure was losing with less than half of voters supporting it at press time. It was the first time there was any organized opposition to a school bond.
Voters appeared more generous in other races.
The Contra Costa Community College District's $450 million Measure E bond -- the fifth such measure put to voters since 1996 -- was holding a slight lead at press time. The bond would help shore up aging facilities at campuses in Pleasant Hill, San Pablo, Pittsburg, San Ramon and Brentwood. Two previous measures passed and two failed. And with Measure G, the Livermore Valley Joint Unified district appeared to be successful extending its $138 parcel tax, first approved by voters in 2008, for another seven years after it expires June 30, 2015.
Residents in the western part of Contra Costa County cast votes in both the West Contra Costa and college district elections. Passage of Measure H would add $36 per $100,000 in assessed valuation to property taxes while passage of Measure E was slated to add $13 per $100,000.
Combined with taxes from previous bonds, the West Contra Costa measure would have increase taxes from $282 per $100,000 in assessed valuation to $341 while the community college district measure would boost property taxes from $13 to $26 per $100,000.
The West Contra Costa district said the additional money was needed to continue ambitious plans to renovate or rebuild virtually every school in the district. Measure E supporters want to upgrade career-training facilities and technology to help students remain competitive. In addition, they sought to repair and replace outdated, 40-year-old classrooms.
Both measures, which required 55 percent of the vote to win, drew opposition from taxpayers association members and residents who said the taxes would saddle the community with too much debt. The Livermore parcel tax, which required two-thirds voter support to win, had no vocal opposition. Supporters said the tax would continue funding advanced math, science and engineering courses; pay for maintenance; help attract and retain highly qualified teachers; provide elementary school science and technology specialists; and keep classroom technology and instructional materials up to date.
Staff writers Paul Burgarino and Jeremy Thomas contributed to this story. Theresa Harrington covers education. Reach her at 925-945-4764 or email@example.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/tunedtotheresa.