When the Portola Valley School District board meets Wednesday, it could decide either to ask voters to continue paying a $458 per year parcel tax or kick in even more money for the district's two schools.

According to a public notice, the board could seek up to $656 per parcel -- $198 more than the combined amount collected through two previously approved parcel taxes that both expire in 2014.

But a poll the district commissioned last month reveals there's not enough support for a $198 increase to ensure at least two-thirds of voters would say yes in a May election. Only 57 percent of those surveyed said "probably yes" or "definitely yes." And of three lower amounts suggested -- $173, $148 and $123 -- only $123 drew more than the 66 percent threshold of approval, at 71.5 percent.

Superintendent Carol Piraino said the district will take what it can get and is recommending that the board go with a $581 parcel tax request -- $458 plus $123.

"You never know, but it seems like that was fairly palatable," Piraino said in a phone interview Monday. "Obviously, there will have to be an information campaign (with the measure)."

The current parcel tax generates about $987,000 a year, or 8.2 percent of the district's $12 million general fund budget, according to revenue information for Wednesday's meeting from Sandra Lee Lepley, the district's interim chief business official.

The high-performing K-8 school district has about 700 students, according to state data.


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The district has been using parcel tax revenue on class size management, arts and music programs, advanced curriculums in math, science and technology, "quality" reading and writing programs, and for retention of qualified and experienced teachers, according to a memo from Piraino.

A $123 increase is estimated to contribute $265,065 more per year, the superintendent said.

If the poll by San Mateo-based Godbe Research is wrong and the parcel tax doesn't pass, the district could still go to voters before next year. The survey shows 77 percent support a "no increase" measure that simply extends existing parcel taxes.

"We're out in front of this a bit. Our current parcel tax doesn't expire until 2014," Piraino said. "Part of the reason is so that if we didn't pass it in May, we'd still have our options open."

The Woodside and Las Lomitas school district boards are also considering possible tax measures.

Email Bonnie Eslinger at beslinger@dailynewsgroup.com; follow her at twitter.com/bonnieeslinger.