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Supporters Beat the Drum for School Parcel-Tax Measures

Downtown Santa Barbara rally aims to boost support for Measures A and B on the Nov. 6 ballot

Student drummers lead the way as an enthusiastic crowd marches down State Street in Santa Barbara on Wednesday in support of Measures A and B, school parcel-tax proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Student drummers lead the way as an enthusiastic crowd marches down State Street in Santa Barbara on Wednesday in support of Measures A and B, school parcel-tax proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot.  (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

By Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor | @tombol |

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.

School board member Susan Deacon's dog Grace got into the action Wednesday, sporting a t-shirt supporting school parcel tax Measures A and B. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)
School board member Susan Deacon’s dog Grace gets into the action Wednesday, sporting a T-shirt supporting school parcel tax Measures A and B. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

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.

Mike Stoker and Hannah-Beth Jackson, who are facing off for the 19th District state Senate seat, also showed up to lend their support.

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.”

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

March for Measures A&B in Santa Barbara from Noozhawk on Vimeo.

(Tom Bolton / Noozhawk video)

» on 10.11.12 @ 12:06 AM

Anyone check them for their union cards? I thought I was seeing a purple teeshirt SEIU convention let loose on the streets. Folks, this is a union supported parcel tax. Don’t be fooled. They want a permanent place on your property tax bills for more perks, benefits and paid days off.

» on 10.11.12 @ 12:24 AM

Almost nothing regarding these parcel taxes is accurate. Tom indicates that Measure A will generate $4.4 million of additional revenue for the secondary schools. However, in the ballot argument for Measure W, the parcel tax rejected by the voters in June, it was represented the additional revenues would be $2.7 million. This was for a parcel tax of $54, instead of the $48 in Measure A. So tell me how it is possible for revenues to increase by $1.7 million if the parcel tax has decreased by $6.

It gets even worse than this if you look at the predecessor parcel tax, Measure H. Last year, Measure H generated $1.1 million of revenue for a levy of $23. Measure A is slightly more than two times as large, but for some inexplicable reason generates 4 times the amount of revenue. A more accurate number for Measure A would be around $2.2 million, far less than the numbers being thrown around by the supporters.

Many of the other assertions by the overzealous supporters are inaccurate as well. I would be very careful about approving additional taxes when it is almost impossible to get the straight story from those who are willing to distort the facts.

» on 10.11.12 @ 02:13 AM

The government union and illegal alien tax, dubbed the idiot tax.

It’s a spending problem.

» on 10.11.12 @ 12:45 PM

NewsPress endorsement recommendations says it best:

Vote no: ....... “The problem isn’t that schools don’t have the money; the problem is the money is not allocated properly. This is another proposition that is written using scare tactics to get the vote.”

$6 million dollars is a lot of money to take out of the local economy just so schools can cater to union demands. You just got your property tax bill - how much more do you keep wanting to add to it every year with these union-driven school parcel tax demands?

» on 10.11.12 @ 11:53 PM

Can’t believe this event and the recent slick mailer that came in the mail today were actually passed off as “information” events by SB schools. Not even a mention of the cost per parcel on that slick campaign mailer, which belies its neutral information content intent to slip under the prohibition using school tax dollars for political purposes.  This whole A and B campaign is smelling fishier and fishier.

» on 10.11.12 @ 11:59 PM

I’m not sure what “perks” Sy Prey is speaking of. Measures A and B are to ensure that the kids will have music, theater arts, art, foreign language, technology and science classes.  If by “perks” he means fewer benefits and 7 furlough days which means a pay cut, well, that’s a funny definition of “perks”

» on 10.12.12 @ 02:15 AM

How can any school district come before the voters with a straight face and claim science classes and technology classes can’t be funded unless property tax owners pay for more parcel taxes?

Rightfully, voters have to ask where are these schools priorities that basics are now relegated to extras that are only offered if you pay up to get them? Where is that $11,000 the state says it is already paying per student actually going.

Why exactly is there no money in the schools budget for academic basics? Now that the state economy has recovered to pre-2008 meltdown levels? Claiming there are still ongoing budget cuts does not square with the facts on the Governor’s own websites showing the amount of money subject to Prop 98 guarantees for schools.

Yet, Santa Barbara schools as the NewsPress editorial stated is using scare tactics to get votes to pass these measures. That level of union-driven cynicism should be beneath them. Shame on this current school board for sinking so low and managing their budgets so badly..

» on 10.12.12 @ 02:31 AM

Under the current parcel tax only 10% of the money in the elementary schools goes to math, science and technology. The other 90% is spent on music, according to their literature. Interesting priorities - when close to 50% of the kids in our elementary schools aren’t proficient in math or English.

» on 10.12.12 @ 11:40 AM

Disturbing to see both Santa Barbara High School and San Marcos High School failed to meet their API goals. This explains why so many students (up to 70%)  need of remedial courses once they move on to college.

Consequently, taxpayers are paying twice to get what should have been accomplished once in the high schools - leaving high school proficient in english and math. 

Dumbing down the curriculum in high schools dumbs down the entire higher education process. Too much of our education dollar is now getting wasted providing college-ready remediation ....... twice.

Yet Santa Barbara schools are telling us they can’t provide educational basics unless we provide them extra parcel tax money. Something is wrong with this picture and the current school board’s priorities.

Taxpayers and students are getting short-changed in this state that already funnels 50% of its general operating funds directly into education through the Prop 98 guarantee.

If 50% of all state general funds are not enough to get our students out the door proficient in english and math, how much more of the state budget or our own local property taxes do these teachers want?

Please can we have school boards that are not over-loaded with unaccountable teacher union candidates who refuse to address these very basic questions and whose only solution to every problem is to ask for more money?

The answer is not more money. How much more of our state general funds besides the current 50% do they want before schools finally become accountable for results? It is time for increased expectations; not just more money.

There is no incentive for schools to reform if we keep pouring more money on the problem and refusing to ask for accountability and higher expectations in return.  That starts at the top with more motivated and independent school boards who put students first, and not just teacher-union demands.

No on A & B is a good place to start sending the message to our local schools. We reward results; we don’t reward promises to do better.

» on 10.12.12 @ 05:43 PM

It is arithmetic! I only wish we had $11,000 per student in the Santa Barbara School District. With an average daily attendance (ADA) of 13,322 students the District would have over $145,000,000 in revenue. Where is it? The School District receives closer to $5,500 per ADA after the State gives less than 80% of what Propositon 98 is supposed to guarantee. This take away by the State, ignoring Proposition 98, was recently ruled constitutional.
In 2004-05 the State General Fund Revenue was $77.2 billion. If Proposition 30 does not pass it will increase to $90.3 billion in 2012-13. A 16.9% increase. What happens to K-14 Proposition 98 Expenditures in the same time period if Proposition 30 fails to pass? It will go from $47 billion to $48.25 billion. Only a 2.7% increase. The Proposition 98 guarantee has simply been ignored by the State.
The bottom line is this possibility. If A and B, 30 and 38 don’t pass the District may see a reduction of close to $10,000,000 in programs and services for 2013-14. If this happens the School Board will be taking some drastic action at a Board meeting next February and it will be horrible for the education of the children in Santa Barbara. If you have any questions you can always call me at 687-7639 or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .  Ed Heron, Member, Santa Barbara School Board.

» on 10.12.12 @ 07:41 PM

Lou. In making the decision on the amount of the Measure B Parcel Tax for elementary schools the School Board allocated about 61% for Music-6 music teachers and instruments. The other 40% is allocated for Math and Science Materials and Technology Mentors and Equipment. It was not 90% to music. Ed Heron, Member-Santa Barbara Board of Education.

» on 10.12.12 @ 09:17 PM

Looks like I need math lessons. “The other 39%...”  Ed

» on 10.12.12 @ 09:31 PM

Ed, with all due respect, you are engaging in scare tactics to needlessly frighten people in order to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. I will bet you any amount of money that Jerry Brown will not go through with these cuts if Props 30 & 38 are defeated. He and his fellow politicians in Sacramento are first and foremost interested in self-preservation. There is no way they are going to alienate the voters by making huge cuts in public education.

This reminds me what you guys do every year. In March, you send out all these reduction-in-force notices to a whole bunch of teachers and then a few months later rescind almost of them.

If you divide the total revenues of $117 million by the 13 thousand plus students, you get around $8,800 per student. It is true that total educational funds from all sources are somewhere on the order of ten to eleven thousand dollars per student in Ca. The reason why the SBUSD doesn’t see all of this money is because of a gigantic educational bureaucracy in Sacramento and its County Educational Offices throughout the state. The one in Santa Barbara spends somewhere on the order of $50 million, almost half of the district’s budget. Most everyone acknowledges, at least privately, that the County Education Office doesn’t add any value to the district. It would be far better if we redirected much of its revenues to the districts, so the money could actually be spent to improve the inadequate educational outcomes we are now experiencing, assuming the reforms I have advocated are enacted.

As for the parcel tax, Proposition I, the current tax, allocates 90% of the money to elementary schools to music. Only 10% goes to science, math or technology. How many voters do you think were aware of this when they generously approved this parcel tax 4 years ago? Remember Ed, the district has lost over 1000 students in the last five years. When you take this into account, the per pupil spending has actually gone up. Revenues in 2011-12 have been restored to the amount the school was receiving 3 years ago.

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