LAFAYETTE -- In May, voters here will be asked to approve two separate school parcel tax measures that will cost property owners a total of $651 per year for an indefinite period of time to support public education.
The Acalanes Union High School District and Lafayette School District governing boards on Thursday morning separately approved resolutions to place parcel tax measures on the May 6 mail-in ballot. The goal is to maintain curriculums and programs and keep classroom sizes small, among other objectives.
Both measures need two-thirds voter approval to pass.
Lafayette school district officials previously discussed their parcel tax measure at a meeting Jan. 16, when they fine-tuned ballot language to appear before voters.
Officials with the Lafayette district -- which oversees four elementary schools and one middle school -- hope local property owners will embrace the tax measure, which combines two existing parcel taxes set to expire June 30, 2015.
The district seeks a $539-per-parcel tax, which merges the $313 Measure J tax with the $176 Measure B tax. The levy includes a cost-of-living adjustment carried over from the Measure J tax and an exemption for residents age 65 and older. It would not sunset.
On Monday, Acalanes High School district officials met to discuss a survey asking 400 potential voters about their willingness to support renewing Measure A, a $112-per-parcel tax set to expire in 2015. Voters passed that tax in 2010, and it generates $3.9 million annually with an exemption for seniors.
According to the survey conducted by Encinitas-based TrueNorth Research, a majority of voters polled earlier this month said they would support extending the existing tax if it did not include an increase.
In an interview, Acalanes Superintendent John Nickerson acknowledged concerns about parcel taxes, but said he's confident voters will embrace the measure.
"I think the voters in Lafayette represent the voters in all of our district's communities, and they support reasonable local taxation to support the high quality in our schools," Nickerson said. Voters in Orinda, Moraga and Walnut Creek will also vote on the Acalanes tax.
Should the tax expire, Nickerson said there would be a "significant reduction" in academic programs and impacts to class sizes. Approximately 40 district employees could also be laid off, which would affect programs and student support services, the superintendent said.
Money the district receives from a separate parcel tax would help the district's bottom line, Nickerson added, but they would not sustain the programs funded by Measure A. Voters passed the $189 Measure G parcel tax in 2010; that tax raises about $6.6 million annually and does not sunset.
"The district is not funded by the state to provide the programs that we provide and the community expects," Nickerson said, explaining that the new state local control funding formula approved last year by Gov. Jerry Brown will not restore state funding to pre-Recession levels.
"The district is dependent on local support in order to provide those high-quality programs," Nickerson said.
Voters approved the $189 per parcel Measure G tax in 2010. That tax raises $6.6 million annually and does not sunset. Both taxes contribute $10.5 million to the district's $56 million revenue stream.
The district's four high schools serve more than 5,000 students from all three Lamorinda communities and Walnut Creek.