MORAGA -- Although early results show voters have approved a $192 per-parcel tax to fund the Moraga School District's four schools, district officials aren't celebrating just yet.
In a statement Wednesday, Superintendent Bruce Burns gave a measured response to unofficial election results that show the temporary tax has reached the two-thirds majority required for approval one year after the failure of a similar parcel tax. The previous tax asked voters to chip in $325 per year and did not sunset; the new tax will expire in six years.
"We remain cautiously optimistic that Measure B will officially pass and the quality of education for Moraga schools will remain intact," Burns said. "We will, however, wait for the final numbers, as the margin is still close."
As of Wednesday afternoon, Contra Costa County elections officials had counted 3,541 votes, or 68.04 percent, in favor of the tax and 1,663 votes or 31.96 percent against it. They still had 430 outstanding ballots to tally, said County Clerk Joe Canciamilla.
The ballots include those dropped off at polling locations in Moraga and provisional ballots that still need to be verified. But Canciamilla said he didn't expect any surprises.
"The trend is as you get to these ballots that are later, they tend to be more 'yes' than 'no's," he said. " I don't anticipate it changing the outcome."
Officials have up until 28 days after the election to certify the results.
Education leaders are counting on the tax to maintain existing programs and other services that could be cut as the district grapples with a $909,810 budget shortfall and increasing operational costs of at least $200,000 per year.
Measure B proceeds will also supplement an existing $325 parcel tax voters passed in 2004 that has generated about $1.8 million annually. The district has exhausted parcel tax reserves after years of dealing with cuts in state funding that began in 2007-2008.
Officials say those funding levels won't be restored under the state's new "local control funding formula" until 2020-2021 -- when Measure B expires.
The new tax includes an exemption for low-income seniors who are 65 or older.
The district also plans to form an oversight committee to monitor tax proceeds and expenditures.
The new tax will go into effect July 1.