The San Ramon Valley school board will ask voters in May to approve an annual $144 property parcel tax that would last seven years.

The school board unanimously approved the plans on Tuesday for a special mail-only vote, said board President Bill Clarkson.

District officials say passing the measure is needed to lessen the effects of what is expected to be deep state budget cuts.

Also, the district currently collects a voter-approved $90-per-parcel tax that expires June 30, which will mean a loss of more money if the upcoming measure is not approved. If passed with the necessary two-thirds approval, the new tax would start when the current one expires.

However, the district has faced organized opposition to its tax measures in the past, and it is expected in this election as well.

School district spokesman Terry Koehne said the tax would be used to "maintain academic excellence, retain qualified and experienced teachers, prepare students for college and careers for a global economy, maintain math, science, literacy and other academic programs and address the impact of cuts in the state education budget."

Seniors 65 and over and people with disabilities can be exempted from the tax on their residences.

Koehne said the ballots will be due by May 5. Voters would get their ballots in April.

The district estimates the tax, if passed, would raise about $6.7 million a year. The latest estimate on the state budget has the district, which has a $215 million budget this year, making $22 million in cuts between this year and next, Clarkson said.

"Even if we pass this, there's still going to be a shortfall," Clarkson said. "We can't allow our school district to suffer."

Clarkson said the ballot measure wording was left flexible because the cuts the district will have to make have not yet been identified.

Koehne said some advocated for a higher tax amount. But considering the district's failed attempt at passing a parcel tax last year, the lower amount — which was in line with the district's parcel tax exploration committee recommendation — was picked. Also, the district had hired consultants to test voter response to a $128 and $270 annual parcel tax, with consultants recommending the lower amount.

Mike Arata, a Danville resident who has organized opposition in the past, said it is likely he will for this measure as well.

Arata said the state's budget problem is due to spending increasing faster than population growth and inflation. He said the school district has the same problem, and that both should live within their means.

"They need to do their part like everyone else is doing in this tough economy," he said. "Taxpayers, if they have good sense, will call a halt."

In June, the district failed in its attempt to pass a seven-year annual $166-per-parcel tax. That amount would have increased up to $8 a year for inflation and also included a senior exemption. It would have replaced the final year of the current tax.

That proposed tax lost with 63.5 percent approval.

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