Sat11222014

Schools

Los Altos School District finalizes ballot language for new parcel tax measure before voters June 3

Los Altos School District trustees OK'd final wording Monday for a ballot statement asking property owners to approve a $96 parcel tax increase that would put the tax rate at $264 annually. The proposal is set to come before voters June 3.

This marks the third request for funding from residents in the boundaries of the eight-school district, which faces rising enrollment and increasing costs. Two other proposed parcel tax increases, in 1989 and 1993, met with overwhelming voter approval. The last request, which needed a two-thirds majority, received 81.3 percent of the vote.

Superintendent Marge Gratiot said the increase is needed to maintain programs at the same level originally approved eight years ago. The tax is designed to meet four basic goals: providing the basic educational program without cuts; supporting the class size reduction program; preserving restored programs such as textbook budgets and libraries; and repairs to maintain aging buildings.

Board member Terri Sachs, who is a parcel tax campaign chairwoman this year, said the campaign is off to an early start to ensure a success. She said the district is moving quickly to get a ballot statement to the county Registrar of Voters this week to guarantee a Measure A designation - and familiarity with the voters. The proposal has been titled Measure A the last two elections.

She said previous campaigns have been successful through volunteers going door-to-door and talking directly to residents.

"We're having a real grass-roots campaign," she said. "We're recruiting parent volunteers to spread the word."

Sachs estimated more than 400 volunteers would take part in the campaign.

"We have more people who want to be on the campaign than I really need," she said.

This year's campaign will include precinct walking, a "kick-off" event at each school, poll watching and a "phone-a-thon."

"All we have to do is tell the truth, and we'll get support," Sachs said. "We can't afford to lose this election."

If the measure is approved, the tax increase would go into effect July 1. The ballot language includes an exemption from the parcel tax for seniors 65 and older who apply annually for the exemption.

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