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Second Time’s the Charm for Santa Barbara School Parcel Taxes

Both of the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s parcel-tax measures passed with room to spare Tuesday night, bringing great relief to education leaders after a heartbreaking loss at the polls in June.

Measure A, which will benefit the secondary school district, got 68.6 percent approval and Measure B, for the elementary schools, won 69.6 percent of the vote, according to the Santa Barbara County Elections Office.

Board of Education member Monique Límon said the victory felt great.

“It’s another message about how supportive the community is of our local schools,” she said.

Despite majority votes for both measures in June, they failed to pass the two-thirds approval threshold required for passage. But Límon said the community came out even stronger in November and the campaign was much more mobilized this time around, too.

Brian Robinson, who worked on the campaign, wasn’t worried that the measures would pass this time. There’s a much higher turnout in November and the community has always voted favorably for local tax measures benefiting schools, he said.

“June was an anomaly,” he said. “It’s hard in a low-turnout election to please everybody.”

Measure A will implement a $45-per-parcel tax in the secondary district and Measure B will implement a $48-per-parcel tax in the elementary district. The dollar amounts were dropped after a disappointing showing in the June election, when voters rejected the $54-per-parcel measures by a close margin.

School board members were worried about getting the necessary two-thirds majority approval, since the measures narrowly lost in June, with one measure falling short by about 120 votes.

These parcel taxes will replace Measures H and I, which expire next year and fund math, science, music, arts, technology and foreign language programs. Had the measures failed, many programs would likely have been cut and possibly even eliminated.

Education leaders also had their eyes on Proposition 30, which would mean millions of dollars in funding for local K-12 and higher education districts. Límon kept checking her phone on Election Night for updates, as the proposition appeared to come back from apparent defeat. The Secretary of State’s Office reported it was passing as of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, with about 60 percent of precincts reporting. 

Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Dave Cash has said the district could lose $6.8 million in state funding if Proposition 30 fails to pass.

The Community College System faces another $338 million in cuts if it fails, and Santa Barbara City College would be facing a $4.6 million mid-year loss, which will translate into fewer classes, spokesperson Joan Galvan has said.

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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