Foothill-De Anza Community College District officials face a busy summer after the board of trustees voted June 14 to move forward with a proposal to place a parcel-tax measure on the November ballot.
The next steps, which fall short of actually approving the measure for the ballot, include informing voters of the district’s accomplishments, financial challenges and approaches to addressing state budget reductions.
The parcel tax would offset budget cuts in a district that has slashed more than $20 million and hundreds of full- and part-time faculty positions. While enrollment at community colleges continues to increase, a $13 million decrease in state funding for the 2009-2010 school year has resulted in fewer class offerings and a growing inability to accommodate the influx.
Trustees approved spending up to $200,000 for the information campaign and other preparatory steps. TBWB Strategies will assist the district with the communications campaign.
Although the board has yet to make a final decision, trustees authorized district administrators to begin working with bond counsel to prepare the necessary legal notices, resolutions and ballot language for the parcel-tax option.
Trustees also approved filing a public legal notice announcing that the board will hold a public hearing Aug. 2 to decide whether or not to place the tax on the Nov. 2 ballot. The deadline for filing to include the parcel tax on the ballot is Aug. 6.
The public notice states that voters would not be asked to pay a parcel tax of more than $69 a year for a period longer than six years. That leaves the door open to a lesser amount for a shorter time.
A $69-per-parcel tax would raise between $6 million and $6.9 million annually, less than the $15 million the district cut from last year’s budget.
The legal notice states that the tax would be used to support a variety of educational programs, including:
• Maintaining math, science, writing and other core academic courses that prepare students to transfer to four-year colleges and universities.
• Preserving job training programs that prepare students for careers in technology, engineering, nursing, emergency medical response and science.
• Keeping community college libraries open and maintaining library services.
• Maintaining programs that provide equal access to classes for students with disabilities.
• Providing affordable course offerings to meet growing student demand.
• Attracting and retaining qualified instructors and support staff.
The communications effort over the next six weeks will include presenting information to district voters and staff, elected officials, business and community leaders and the media.
Chancellor Linda Thor said that recent polling of likely voters showed that 71 percent would definitely or probably support a $69-per-year parcel tax for the district, and that support increased to 75 percent after they received more information.
She also said that the San Mateo County Community College District’s parcel tax is on track to pass as additional late and provisional ballots are counted from the June 8 election.
The Foothill-De Anza Community College District’s proposed parcel tax would affect eligible voters in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Cupertino, most of Sunnyvale and a small portion of San Jose. The high school districts that feed into the college community district include Mountain View Los Altos Union, Palo Alto Unified and Fremont Union.