With some in Dublin still questioning how well the school district has managed money from a bond measure passed four years ago, the district is asking voters to approve a new tax.
Measure L on the Nov. 4 ballot, which needs two-thirds approval to pass, would charge an annual $96-per-parcel property tax for five years beginning July 1, 2009. Seniors and the disabled would be eligible for an exemption for property they live in. The district, which has a $48 million budget this year, estimates the tax would raise $1 million a year.
"The parcel tax is important to our schools," Superintendent Stephen Hanke said, "primarily because of the direction we have chosen to go with the new graduation requirements as well as raising the bar to all students in our district."
The district plans to enact more stringent graduation requirements starting in 2012.
With the state budget in flux and state revenue expected to decrease, it is more important than ever that the district have a reliable source of income, Hanke said.
"While I understand the economy is difficult, the importance of raising the bar for all our students cannot be overemphasized," he said.
No one submitted an argument against the measure for the county voter information pamphlet.
The district has said the money would be used for new programs and to restore services lost due to budget cuts. Hanke said there's no set plan for how to spend the money but it could pay for things such as intervention specialists in elementary schools and advanced classes in high schools.
The ballot states that the money would be used to encourage academic achievement in math, science, reading, writing and technology. It also would be used to pay and train teachers and maintain small class sizes.
Yet some have questioned how the district is spending money from Measure C, a $184 million bond measure passed in 2004 to fund facility improvements. Some of the criticism has come from Dublin school board candidates, even though they all support Measure L.
There has also been criticism from the opponents of the district's decision to close Nielsen Elementary School. These critics say they thought Measure C was going to fund improvements and keep the school open.
Board President Denis King said although the board ended up moving $6.1 million in contingency money away from projects planned at other schools to cover rising construction costs at Dublin High, the district still plans to allocate Measure C funds as promised.
King added that bond money can be spent only on facilities, whereas parcel tax money can fund programs and services.
"They're two completely different things," King said.
A previous district effort to pass a parcel tax measure failed in 2004.
That would have initially cost property owners $180 per year, increasing 2 percent per year. District leaders have said they don't think that loss indicates how the current measure will do.
Reach Eric Louie at 925-847-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What it would do: If passed, the measure would charge Dublin district residents an annual $96-per-parcel property tax for five years beginning July 1, 2009. Seniors and the disabled would be eligible for an exemption for property they live in. The district, which has a $48 million budget this year, estimates it would get $1 million a year.
Requirement for passage: Approval by two-thirds of voters.