Both say parcel tax money would help bridge budget gaps expected because of state cuts.
San Ramon school trustees unanimously approved the tax plan on Tuesday. Also Tuesday, the Pleasanton school board cut $2.6 million in services from its budget as part of its plan to make up a gap almost twice that amount during the next school year.
San Ramon's proposal would authorize an annual $166-per-parcel tax for seven years beginning July 1. If approved by voters, it would bring in about $7.3 million a year.
It would be adjusted each year for inflation with a maximum annual increase of $8. There would be an exemption for seniors 65 and older for the property on which they live.
The new tax would replace the district's current four-year, $90-per-parcel tax approved by voters in 2004. That tax is now in its fourth year.
The tax would require approval by two-thirds of voters. It would pay for the district's share of the state's class-size-reduction program in kindergarten through third grade, and for ninth grade -- that limits classes to 20 students for those elementary grades and at a 20-to-1 ratio in English and math classes for the high school.
Tax money would also be used as an incentive for teachers to remain and to keep the current staffing levels for librarians and counselors in the middle and high schools. The money would also be continued for fifth-grade music programs.
It would also pay for a new math and science initiative to increase the number of students interested in pursuing math, science or engineering. The initiative would reduce class sizes in science labs, algebra, calculus and other math classes in middle- and high-school grades. It would also pay for new science equipment.
San Ramon Valley district spokesman Terry Koehne said the district has made some efforts with the initiative, but passing the tax would provide money for expansion. New tax money could be combined with an upcoming San Ramon Valley Education Foundation endowment for the project.
The district, which has a $199 million budget for this school year, had estimated it would lose $760,000 this school year and another $5.4 million next year under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget proposal. That, however, was before the state's estimated budget shortfall grew from $16 billion to $17.5 billion. The district also is expecting a $3.5 million rise in employee and other operations costs for next year.
Meanwhile, in Pleasanton, the board voted 4-1 on Tuesday for its staff to consider a November parcel tax measure. The board would have to decide on the measure by August if it hopes to get it on the November ballot.
The district needs to consider the amount of a tax, and the services it would fund, and other issues, said district spokeswoman Myla Grasso.
Trustee Steve Brozosky was the lone "no" vote on Tuesday. He said he is not ready to pursue the tax now, but might be later. He said he wants to know more on how the state budget will shape up, and doesn't want to pursue the tax if the community doesn't support it.
The district has a $119.5 million budget this year, but is expecting a $4.5 million shortfall -- a combination of less state money and increases in ongoing costs -- during the 2008-2009 school year.
The board on Tuesday also approved two other resolutions to bridge the gap. On a 3-2 vote, the board approved $2.76 million in budget cuts. Trustees Chris Grant and Pat Kernan were opposed.
Those cuts included reducing the number of elementary school reading specialists beyond what the district was recommending. All other cuts were in line with district suggestions. The reductions also included a program for students having trouble reading. Another $260,000 was cut from funding for coaching stipends.
Grasso said it will be up to the teams to decide how to make that money up. Some districts fund stipends with donations, while others charge a fee to play. Other cuts included reductions in administration, landscaping contracts and some teacher training.
Eric Louie covers education. Reach him at 925-847-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.