Vote Yes on Measure CTimes are tough. We are all avoiding unnecessary expenses, but we should not consider Measure C to be discretionary. With the state budget crisis, the schools in California have had their funds cut drastically, and the San Ramon Valley district was already struggling due to an old funding formula.
Measure C renews the expiring $90 annual parcel tax at $144 for the next seven years. These funds would go toward "maintaining academic excellence," retaining qualified teachers, and preparing students for college and careers in a global economy with strong math, science and literacy education. In the past, parcel tax funds have been used for smaller class sizes in kindergarten through third grade and in ninth-grade English and math classes; keeping middle and high school libraries open; and counselors at the middle and high schools. Parcel tax money goes directly to the district rather than through the state.
Measure C opponents speak of squandered money but we don't see it. For every story of air-conditioning flowing out an open door, we hear another tale about a teacher making students turn off the lights. Our school district has already cut nearly $17 million during the last 10 years (1999-2008) due to state budget problems. Now the district is looking at reducing its budget by nearly $10 million in just over a 17-month period, and it has sent out pink slips to 228 credentialed employees notifying them they may be laid off at the end of the school year.
Measure C, a mail-in vote, requires a two-thirds majority to pass, which is difficult since many voters nix any tax. But a parcel tax of $144 per year is reasonable. This would cost each household $12 a month, an increase of only $4.50 over the expiring parcel tax. As before, residents 65 and older can apply for exemptions, although we all benefit from keeping quality in our schools. The San Ramon Valley Unified School District has a reputation that draws families; if our schools decline, so do our property values. We all will benefit from passing Measure C.