In a sudden turnaround, Mt. Diablo school district Superintendent Gary McHenry on Wednesday night recommended the school board put a parcel tax on the backburner and instead pursue a school construction bond in 2008.

"We really don't seem to have the support for a parcel tax at this time," McHenry said.

In an effort to bring in more money to the East Bay's second largest school district, board members Paul Strange and Gary Eberhart had promoted a real estate tax that would cost several hundred dollars a year. A parcel tax needs a two-thirds majority approval of voters.

However results from an informal community survey showed that 46 percent would approve of a tax that cost $100 or more annually, and 8 percent disapproved of a parcel tax at any level.

The results mirrored those done in spring by the district's professional pollster, who predicted a parcel tax above $26 a year would likely fail.

Eberhart said he was disappointed but that not pursuing a tax in the June election might be a smart move.

"The last thing we want to do is get everyone revved up when statistically we know we can't achieve it," Eberhart said.

Lack of employee union support may also have doomed the tax. As of Tuesday, the school district had not settled contracts with any of its bargaining groups.

All six campaign consultants the parcel-tax campaign committee interviewed said the measure needed labor endorsement to pass, McHenry said.


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"We might want to put a hold on everything and focus on negotiations, try to get that resolved," the superintendent said.