MORAGA -- A temporary parcel tax that would raise more than $1 million annually to help fund the Moraga School District's four schools and halt program cuts appears to have won a narrow victory Tuesday.
With all absentee votes and precincts counted, Measure B, which asked voters to pay an annual $192-per-parcel tax for six years, received 68 percent voter approval, clearing the two-thirds majority hurdle required for passage.
Of the 5,204 votes counted thus far, 3,541 -- or 68.04 percent -- favored the measure and 1,663 opposed it.
The apparent approval of Measure B comes one year after voters rejected a similar parcel tax that asked for more money and did not expire.
Property owners currently pay $325 per parcel to help fund the school district. That tax -- passed in 2004 -- raises about $1.8 million annually and does not sunset.
However, officials say that cuts in state funding, an ongoing budget deficit and the exhaustion of parcel tax reserves forced them to return to residents to help fund the district.
"While the Moraga School District has demonstrated an extremely high level of financial stewardship in the last five years, the magnitude of the projected $900,000 deficit next year relative to a $16 million operating budget and the very real possibility of eliminating music, art, PE programs, increasing class size again, further reducing library services and technology requires the district to seek community support," Superintendent Bruce Burns told Moraga town leaders in September.
In addition to maintaining programs, the parcel tax will help the district while funding from a new state formula resulting from the passage of Proposition 30 last November trickles in.
The "local control funding formula" is expected to fund districts to 2007-08 levels, but those levels will not be fully realized until 2020-21, according to district officials.
Under the new formula, Moraga will receive less supplemental income than some districts that qualify for additional funding for low-income students and English learners.
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