With Californians thinking they rescued public education from fiscal disaster last year, convincing voters to dig into pockets to help local schools could pose a hurdle.
It's a challenge campaigners are taking up as three South Bay districts seek voter approval to shore up schools and education Nov. 5.
The Campbell Union High School District and the Loma Prieta Joint Union Elementary School District hope to pass parcel taxes to support operations, primarily teachers, and the Sunnyvale School District is asking for approval to issue bonds to fund remodeling, maintenance and technology.
Campbell Union's Measure E would renew an $85 parcel tax for eight years. First passed in 2008, the tax generates $4.9 million, or about 7 percent of the district's budget. Campbell Union runs seven schools in West San Jose and Campbell.
Renewing it would primarily fund teachers and allow the district to expand Advanced Placement courses, trustee Kalen Gallagher said.
Last November, state voters passed Proposition 30, to increase taxes to support public education.
As he makes calls to persuade voters to support Measure E, Gallagher said he's finding a responsive electorate. "There's been a lot of education about how Prop. 30 was a Band-Aid and not a total solution."
The measure needs a two-thirds vote to pass.
In Loma Prieta, which straddles Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties in the Santa Cruz Mountains, supporters hope to pass a $164 annual parcel tax. Measure H would fund not quite one-quarter of the district's 19.2 teachers, who are currently supported by community sources. "Having private fundraising for public teachers in classrooms is not a sustainable model," Superintendent Corey Kidwell said.
In 2010, a proposed parcel tax fell 19 votes short of the required two-thirds majority. Parents and other supporters stepped in to raise funds to support the two-school district.
"We've been selling a lot of lemonade," Kidwell said.
Measure H would raise about $307,000 for the K-8 district's two schools. If it fails, the district will probably have to think about cutting teachers, she said, because other operating costs -- buses, upkeep, administrative time and salaries -- have been trimmed.
The Sunnyvale School District is seeking a $96 million bond measure to update and maintain schools and to pay for technology. Sunnyvale Middle, and Bishop, Cherry Chase and Ellis elementary schools would get $40.5 million in major renovations such as repair and replacement of sewer and gas lines, and installation of double-pane windows.
The district's other schools and the district office, which underwent renovations paid by bonds passed in 2004, will see smaller-scale improvements, including improvements to technology, Superintendent Ben Picard said.
The bond would cost property owners $15 per $100,000 assessed valuation.
With enrollment exceeding 7,000 this year, the district must prepare to accommodate more students, he said.
The bond would also fund $48 million in repair and maintenance. "The state doesn't fund that in a significant way," Picard said.
The Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association opposes the Campbell and Sunnyvale measures.
One district in Santa Clara County will hold board elections on Nov. 5. In the one-school Orchard School District in San Jose, five people are running for three seats.
Incumbents Bambi Fleming, Alan Fong and Helen Leung-Yuen will face challengers Stephanie Hill and Karl Jacobson. The North San Jose district has 880 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/noguchionk12.