POMONA - An organization representing Pomona Unified School Districts' teachers will not support the district's parcel tax proposal on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Associated Pomona Teachers President Tyra Weis said her organization's membership recently voted against support Measure SS. The measure, if approved, would generate about $4 million a year for four years, according to the text of the measure.

The association will not oppose the measure, but it will not campaign in its favor. Members are free to support the measure as individuals, Weis said.

The school board's decision to add wording to the ballot language played a role in the membership's decision, Weis said.

Language in the ballot says money generated from the tax will not go to administrators or consultants salaries.

However, board members added language that said an exception would be consultants who provide direct support to student programs.

Members of the association have called for cutting consultants in the past.

"That has been our on-going mantra," Weis said.

This summer, before school board members voted to place the proposal on the ballot, Weis said teachers would be more open to supporting the measure if the money it generates would not go to administrators or consultants.

The money raised would fund academic programs, minimize class size increases, continue teacher professional training, provide funds for visual and performing arts as well as money for teachers and staff to carry out these programs.

If voters approve the tax, property owners would pay an additional $96 per parcel annually, according to text of the ballot. Multi-family properties with two to four units would pay $192 a year and those with five or more units would pay $480.

A parcel tax is levied on any property in the school district assessed by the Los Angeles County tax collector.

Measure SS will require a two-thirds majority of votes cast to pass.

Another matter of concern to association members is that Pomona voters will also be asked to increase the city's utility users tax with Measure SP, Weis said.

School Board President Richard Rodriguez said the vote of the association's membership surprised him and others.

"We, for the life of us, can't understand why they did that," Rodriguez said.

People understand the challenges schools face, Rodriguez said, adding revenue from Measure SS would "give us a real shot."

The funding would also help in averting some teacher layoff in the coming school year, he said.

The consultants the district hires are often retired district personnel who are familiar with the district and the task they are being asked to do and who can do it cost- effectively, Rodriguez said.

Micheal Phillips, a member of the Committee for Successful Schools and co-chairman of its phone bank subcommittee, said volunteers have been making calls to voters for about the last three weeks.

In the course of making calls, volunteers have spoken to people sympathetic to the district and those who oppose any tax increase, he said.

Phillips said when he and other committee members and volunteers learned about the association's position, "we respected that."

However, those participating in the committee's work think the measure is necessary to meet the needs of the district's students, he said.

If the measure is approved, "This money is going to be a key component to supporting the schools," said Phillips, a former administrator with the district and current parent in the district.

monica.rodriguez@inlandnewspapers.com
909-483-9336