An enthusiastic and boisterous crowd rallied Wednesday afternoon in support of two parcel-tax measures that will be decided next month by voters in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.
Wearing T-shirts and carrying signs supporting Measures A and B, the group marched from the main library in downtown Santa Barbara down State Street to De la Guerra Plaza, led by a cadre of student musicians setting the pace with drums.
Along the way, they handed out fliers to people, many of whom stopped to take pictures of the procession.
Measure A, if approved by voters Nov. 6, would impose a $45 annual tax on each residential and commercial parcel within the district, raising some $4.4 million to support math, science, technology, foreign language, arts music and theater at the district’s junior highs and high schools.
The measure, which requires approval of two-thirds of voters, replaces an existing parcel tax that is due to expire.
Measure B is a $48 tax that would generate some $1 million to support similar programs at the district’s elementary campuses. It also would replace an existing tax.
Wednesday’s crowd included a cross section of the education community, including teachers, parents and students, as well as a bipartisan mix of elected officials and office-seekers.
The latter included Assemblyman Das Williams, Goleta Mayor Ed Easton, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, Santa Barbara City Council members Cathy Murillo and Bendy White, and Santa Barbara school board members Monique Limón, Kay Parker, Susan Deacon and Ed Heron.
Students, both past and present, addressed the crowd, sharing their experiences with the various programs that will benefit if the parcel taxes are approved.
Several stressed the impact music and the arts had on them when they were younger, and others made the larger case for the importance of education beyond the three Rs.
“I think sometime we see music and arts education … as the icing on the cake,” said Brett Larsen, a music teacher for the district at the elementary-school level, whose position is funded through the existing parcel tax.
“That’s nice, we like icing on the cake,” he said. “But I really feel it’s the icing between the layers that holds the whole cake together, and without it the whole thing’s going to fall apart.”
(Tom Bolton / Noozhawk video)