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Education Foundation Would Support Another Run at School Parcel Tax Measures

Encouraged by voter support for Measures W and X in last week's election, board members express interest in launching a second campaign

Though tired from months of hard work, Santa Barbara Education Foundation board members have decided they would run another parcel tax campaign if the school district asks them to do so.

The Santa Barbara Unified School District’s Board of Education will meet Tuesday night to discuss the next steps for Measures W and X, which narrowly lost at the ballot box last week.

It was the third campaign by the Education Foundation for the district — the 2008 parcel tax measures and 2010 general obligation bond measures were easily passed by the community — and board president Lynn Rodriguez said the board had a long discussion about why these measures failed.

“We came to the conclusion that the major reason we lost, as we suspected might happen, is because it was a primary election with typically lower turnout and more conservative voters (less likely to support any tax),” she wrote in an email. “We had an uphill battle from the start, and we are grateful to have gotten as many votes as we did.”

Measure W, which applies to secondary schools in Santa Barbara and Goleta, received 64.8 percent approval, and Measure X, for elementary schools, got 65.7 percent approval, just short of the 66.66 needed for a two-thirds majority.

The current Measure H and I will expire next July, and replacing them — at a doubled rate, $54 per parcel instead of $23 and $27 — was seen as a way to save the music, arts and foreign language programs with $16 million over four years.

Rodriguez said no other fundraising efforts on the foundation’s part would be able to provide that level of financial support.

Godbe Research consultants suggested a push for June’s election given the competition in November by Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative.

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider planned to present tax-related initiatives in the fall as well, but she announced Tuesday that she has decided to push her efforts to the November 2013 city election.

In February, Schneider announced she would gather signatures for pension reform, a half-cent sales tax and business license tax initiatives. She wanted to pursue an advisory measure to split the revenues between the city and the school district.

The education community initially opposed the idea, worried that the plan would compete with June’s parcel taxes to guarantee millions of dollars for SBUSD funding, but many education leaders supported Schneider at Tuesday’s news conference.

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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