Livermore school officials, looking for voters to renew the district's five-year parcel tax before it expires, will soon survey the community to see if there's support for a ballot measure to extend the tax.

Meanwhile, the Dublin school board on Tuesday asked its staff to start looking for a consultant to do the same for a possible November vote on a parcel tax.

The two districts, like others in the Tri-Valley, say the money is needed because of projected drastic cuts in state education funding.

While Livermore is not making cuts for the coming school year, school officials say the money will be needed in a few years, based on latest funding projections.

With a $110 million budget for this school year, the district has enough in reserves for now. But in the 2010-11 school year, there would be a negative $786,916 balance, said Susan Kinder, executive director of fiscal service. Those projections do not take into account any salary schedule increases.

Part of why the district has such a healthy reserve, district officials have said, is the November 2004 passage of a five-year, $120-per-parcel tax. Livermore Superintendent Brenda Miller said it provides the district about $3.2 million a year and that the district would like to continue it without a break.

She said if a new tax is approved, it would replace the years the current tax has left. If it fails, the district could try it again before the current tax expires. She said the renewal measure would likely continue the current tax amount, but that will depend on survey results.


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Livermore school board President Tom McLaughlin said the survey will determine when to go for a ballot measure. He said if support doesn't look good for November, a vote could be held in the beginning or middle of 2009.

In Dublin last week, the school board approved $2.84 million in cuts for next year, including the closure of Nielsen Elementary at the end of this year.

The district's budget committee is recommending the push for a parcel tax.

School board President Denis King said if the district tries for the tax, it would most likely be in November. Superintendent Stephen Hanke said money from a measure passed at that time would not be available to use until the 2009-10 school year.

The district tried for a $180-per-year parcel tax in March 2004. It received a majority of votes but did not get the two-thirds needed to pass. King said he doesn't believe that indicates how another try would do, saying the previous attempt was to add services while this one would be to maintain what the district has.

King also said he doesn't believe issues around Measure C, a $184 million bond measure passed eight months after the failed parcel tax, will hurt them. Some have said voters would be distrustful since they believed the money would be used to improve schools, and now the district is planning to close Nielsen. King believes closing that school because of low enrollment to be more efficient shows the district is spending wisely, and there would be more backlash if it didn't close.

The San Ramon Valley school district will try for a seven-year $166-per-year parcel tax in June. If passed, its first year would replace the last year of its current $90 per parcel tax.

Last month, the Pleasanton school board directed its staff to start examining a possible amount for a parcel tax, the vote on which could take place in November.

Reach Eric Louie at elouie@bayareanewsgroup.com or 925-847-2123.