In a rush to get a parcel tax measure on the June ballot, the Santa Barbara school board approved language Tuesday that, if passed by voters, would impose a $54-per-parcel tax from 2013 to 2016.
Like parcel tax Measures H and I, which expire July 1, 2013, the proposed measures would “enhance” math, science, technology, music, arts, foreign language and theater programs at district schools. That’s enhanced from the state of things before Measures H and I were passed in 2008, Superintendent Dave Cash said.
Though the elementary and secondary districts have unified, parcel taxes use the old boundaries. This time, the district wants $54 per parcel, not $23 or $27.
Property owners who live within the former elementary district would have to pay $108, since they are within the former secondary boundaries as well. Seniors can opt out of paying, but only for the parcel of their primary residence, according to Cash.
Mission Canyon resident Nancy Bertelsen said doubling the current rate is ridiculous. In her neighborhood, residents already pay twice as much since it’s within the elementary and secondary district boundaries, and many people own multiple parcels.
She owns a parcel that’s undeveloped, used as open space, but would end up paying more in parcel tax than in property tax for that land, she said at Tuesday’s board meeting.
Board members unanimously supported the measure and noted that the parcel tax revenues cannot be touched by the state. However, Santa Barbara County would take a $1 administrative fee for every parcel, so it would receive $53, said Meg Jette, associate superintendent of business services.
Citizen oversight committees for Measures H and I presented the 2010-11 parcel tax spending to the board on Tuesday and provided some insight into how the money is distributed. Both committee chairs said the money was properly spent.
The elementary district’s parcel tax measure brought in $1,114,097 for 2010-11, which was mostly spent on teacher salaries to expand foreign language, arts, music and theater programs as well as keeping 20-to-1 ratio ninth-grade math classes, committee chair Karen Kerns said.
The funds were spent as follows: 25 percent on junior high music, arts and theater; 25 percent on foreign language in junior high and high schools; 23 percent on keeping ninth-grade math classes small; 21 percent on math, science and technology; and 6 percent on charter schools and other programs.
Board members said they have purposefully avoided the promise of small ninth-grade math classes for the proposed measures. Since freshmen can take either algebra or geometry, costs were far above anyone’s expectations.
The elementary district, at $27 per parcel for Measure I, brought in about $615,000 for the 2010-11 year. Both measures saw a spike in senior exemptions for this year.
Oversight chair Elvira Tafoya said the money was spent as follows: 55 percent on music instruction; 11 percent on music equipment and supplies; 12 percent on math, science and technology; and 22 percent on charters and other programs.
For the June election, final ballot language is due to the County Elections Office on Feb. 2, and ballot arguments for and against the measures are due Feb. 19.
The resolutions adopted Tuesday night include the following ballot language:
» Elementary district: “To offset severe state budget cuts to our elementary schools; protect class size; enhance elementary math, science and technology education; and offer classroom music and performing arts programs at the elementary school level, shall the Santa Barbara Unified School District be authorized to implement a $54 annual elementary education parcel tax for four years, with an available exemption for senior citizens, with independent citizen oversight, without administrative salaries, and with every dollar staying in our local elementary schools?”
» Secondary district: “To offset severe state budget cuts to our junior high and high schools; enhance secondary math, science, technology and career education; protect music, arts, foreign language and theater programs at the secondary level; and protect secondary class size, shall Santa Barbara Unified School District be authorized to implement a $54 annual parcel tax for four years, with an available exemption for senior citizens, with independent citizen oversight, without administrative salaries, and with every dollar staying in our local schools?”