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Parcel Tax Measures W, X Called Key to Preserving School Programs

Proponents tout the Santa Barbara ballot measures as a 'small price to pay' for a valuable educational investment

Proponents of extending the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s parcel taxes pressed their case on Monday for approval of Measures W and X on the June 5 ballot, asserting that without this funding, students would miss out on valuable programs such as music, art, foreign language and career training.

The $54-per-parcel taxes are expected to deliver more than $16 million annually for the benefit of the district’s students, according to the Santa Barbara Education Foundation, which is spearheading the election campaign.

Measures W and X would replace 2008’s Measures H and I, which fund smaller class sizes and support math, science and technology education, as well as music and arts education in both the elementary and secondary districts for $23 or $27 per parcel.

The new taxes also would add career-training programs to secondary schools, Santa Barbara Education Foundation board president Lynn Rodriguez said during the news conference Monday in front of La Cumbre Junior High School.

First District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal said California has fallen behind in its education funding, and that school budgets have been decimated. He is encouraging voters to vote yes as a continued investment.

“We walk the walk, that’s what I love about our community — we know what’s important,” Carbajal said.

Santa Barbara school board member Kate Parker noted that there would be a community uproar every year when these kinds of programs would be cut, so the parcel taxes were pitched in 2008 at the beginning of the recession.

“The reality is, those programs would all be long gone by now without H and I,” she said.

Former board president Mark Ingalls, who put up a huge banner promoting the measures at Camino Real Marketplace, said the parcel taxes provide hope, inspiration and wonder to the South Coast’s children, and a yes vote would remind students that they matter.

“It’s a small price to pay June 5, with a huge impact in the classroom,” Ingalls said.

The Santa Barbara Education Foundation also ran the campaigns for Measures H and I, and the 2010 general-obligation bond measures Q and R.

Superintendent Dave Cash and many district principals and local leaders from Santa Barbara and Goleta showed up at Monday’s news conference to support the effort. Those attending included Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and Councilman Grant House, and Goleta Mayor Ed Easton and Councilwoman Margaret Connell.

If approved by the required two-thirds majority, Measure W would provide funding for the district’s secondary campuses — junior high and high schools, serving 10,000 students. Measure X would provide funding for elementary campuses serving 5,000 students.

The taxes would be in effect for four years, starting in 2013, when Measures H and I expire.

Santa Barbara is now a unified district, serving students from kindergarten through high school. If Measure W is approved, all parcels within the district would be subject to the $54 annual assessment. If Measure X also is approved, all parcels within the former elementary district would be subject to an additional $54 charge — for a total of $108.

Seniors can opt out of paying the taxes, but only for the parcel of their primary residence.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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.

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