Board Places $67 Parcel Tax on June Ballot

The annual tax would raise $1.7 million for the district.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try… try again. After three failed attempts in 1993, 2005 and 2009, the Wednesday night approved placing another parcel tax measure on the June ballot.

The Redwood City School District in the surrounding area to not have the additional source of local income. The $67 from the "Elementary   Education Improvement and Student Achievement Measure" for the next five years would provide an additional $1.7 million annually that would stay within the district.

“If we don’t educate the children today, we’re going to pay tomorrow,” said Maria Diaz-Slocum “They deserve it.”

Will you vote for the parcel tax? Vote in .

District parent Michelle Hausler and co-chair of the Community for Better Schools, or the parcel tax campaign, highlighted the necessity of securing a local funding source.

“We can’t rely on the state or legislators to provide the education our students deserve,” Hausler said. “We would have the local control we need to improve our schools.”

The measure requires a 67 percent approval. Senior citizen homeowners and persons with disabilities, regardless of age, who are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), could receive an exemption.

“I have no children or grandkids in the district, but I’ll pay whatever it takes,” said resident Janet Borgens. “It takes less than a latte a week!”

The prospect igher property values as a result of school improvement was also a plus of the parcel tax, said resident Sandra Cooperman.

The tax would be used to financially support enhancement of reading, writing, math and science skills; attract and retain qualified teachers; and support school libraries. The tax money would not be used to pay administrators’ salaries.

Local organizations such as the Redwood City Education Foundation, a non-profit that supports the district, and the Redwood City Teachers Association (RCTA) preemptively supported the parcel tax.

Bret Baird, the president of the teachers’ associations, said he lives in Palo Alto and pays a $500 parcel tax.

“I float between two worlds,” Baird said. “And I’m reminded of the inequities every single day.”

Trustee Dennis McBride added more context to the disparity. Over these students’ K-8 careers, each student in neighboring districts will have approximately $90,000 more spent on them before they meet up in high school.

“It’s staggering that we have to apologize for asking for taxes,” he said.

However, one resident was vehemently against putting a “tax burden” on the community.

“The district has ignored alternatives for other cost cutting methods,” said Jack Hickey. He noted the larger class sizes for fund reduction, but suggested eliminating more associative and administrative staff.


A Hit to Redwood City Students

Per student funding has dropped from $5,534 per student in 2007-08 to $4972 per student in 2011-12. Comparatively, more than $11,000 is allocated to each student in the Woodside Elementary School District.

The district has cut about $13 million over the last five years, including laying off more than 120 teachers and other staff, increasing the number of students in many classrooms by up to 50 percent, and reducing the number of hours that school libraries are open during the school day, according to the district report.

The district was awarded about $4.4 million in local donations and grants for the 2011-12 school year, including about $400,000 raised directly for the district by the Redwood City Education Foundation. 

“It hurts me that the community college district and the high school district have passed so many bonds, yet we can’t pass one for our most vulnerable and precious in our community,” said Mayor Alicia Aguirre.


Will This One Be Different?

To date, the campaign has signed up 450 volunteers versus a couple hundred from the 2009 campaign, according to the parcel tax campaign co-chair Julie Guaspari. There has already been $75,000 raised compared to $0 this same time in 2009.

Resident Lou Covey also cautioned the committee to remember the large percentage of the community that is tax adverse.

“Don’t assume that everything’s fine,” said Covey, who supports the parcel tax measure. “Assume we’re going to lose.”

Board President Hilary Paulson added that researchers had even recommended a $75 parcel tax, but the board decided to vote on $67 tax to make the measure more palatable.

“I’m very optimistic, but I’m also a realist,” Paulson said.

“When you lose, it’s hard to get going again,” said Diaz-Slocum. “But I feel that this time is going to be different.”

Correction: The original article stated that the parcel tax money would not go to teachers' salaries, when in actuality the tax money will not be going to administrators' salaries.

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Jack Hickey February 23, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Here is what I said and delivered in writing to the Board: To the Redwood City Elementary School District, from Jack Hickey Members of the Board, I am appalled at your proposal to expend taxpayer dollars on yet another parcel tax election. You have ignored some obvious alternatives: While you have increased class sizes to reduce cost, you have overlooked the obvious cost cutting which that decision allows, i.e. a reduction in the number of school sites and associated administrative staff. You have ignored my suggestion to extend the Senior exemption to all property owners without children in District schools, which would virtually assure passage of a parcel tax large enough to raise the funds you seek. Instead, you have extended the exemption to the disabled. How blatantly dishonest. Your definition of "Parcel of Taxable Real Property" to mean "...any unit of real property in the District that receives a separate tax bill for ad valorem property taxes from the County Tax Collector's Office,", places homeowners, whose property contains contiguous yet separately taxable parcels, in multiple jeopardy. I urge you not to go forward with this parcel tax proposal.
Georgia Jack February 23, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Jack, I heard your testimony lat night because I was there. And I also heard the board's response to you -- which you did not because you chose to leave directly after your testimony. Had you stayed you would have heard a few key pieces of information directly related to your positions. I find it frustrating when people offer criticisms and complaints but don't take the time to hear the response. I realize the answers they had for you won't change your mind, because at the heart of it, you're really against public education.
Jack Hickey February 23, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Georgia, in the first instance, I presume that all parents are capable of assuming the responsibility to feed, clothe and shelter their family. That includes "feeding" their mind. And, if necessary, they may enter into voluntary associations with others to achieve that end. Compulsory education laws presume they are incapable. Out of that presumption has arisen an institution pursued by it's supporters with religious fervor. That is what prompts many, including myself, to call for the Separation of School and State.
Jack Greenalch February 24, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Mr. Hickey, The world you assume exists does not! I would not argue against your position that the family bears to primary responsibility to feed, clothe and house their children. This is not the role of the public schools! The public schools are mandated to provide a free public education to the children who desire one. Parents have the choice to opt out if they so choose. Since you and I are of approximately the same age, I wonder if you were home schooled by your parents and if you realize how critical a public education is to all children whose parents desire them to receive one. I am proud to say I owe much of my success in life to the free public education I received for twelve years. The taxpayers, including my family, paid for it. I am proud to say I am willing to pay $67 a year so Redwood City Students can have access to the samae quality of public education I received. Jack Greenalch
Jack Hickey February 24, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Some parents feel that they are compelled to send their children to a government approved school. That seems to be a de facto situation for many. My proposals, published elseware, would provide them with a real choice. After 8 years of Catholic Schooling, I cruised through public high school, then volunteered for 4 years in the Navy. Navy Electronics School and OJT provided me the tools that led to a highly successful career.
Steve Hayes February 24, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Jack It is more of a pipe dream than a "real choice" you are providing. I have looked at your web page of proposals - it is fine to propose ideas but it is also important to be realistic and to keep the information current. Your financial information is out of date by one or two decades. As I have read your comments in the Patch it is obvious you do not give a damm about the development of Redwood City children - it is all about tax saving without any regard for the community you live in. A very self serving attitude and I am certain you will be remembered as a person who tried his best to damage his own community. Nice legacy. The other day you suggested parents with special needs children should be forced to bear all of the incremental costs of putting their children through school. If your idea was implemented most of those kids would end up in institutions - the kids would lose out and the taxpayers would be forced to pay more for a lifetime of institutional care. Essentially you were saying our society should give up on the special needs kids and we should treat them as outcasts. Is that really what you believe?
Jack Hickey February 24, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Steve, what I said was: "...families with children who can not function in the normal classroom environment should be provided cash compensation equal to the amount expended for regular students (~$10,000 in RCSD) to seek their own personal solution to their child's education." Force, which you find repugnant, is your choice of words. I do not advocate initiation of force. If you were consistent, you would join me in opposing Compulsory Attendance Laws,
Jack Hickey February 24, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Getting back on topic, when I saw the "exemption for the disabled " provision in the Parcel Tax proposal, it reminded me of Milton Friedman's "Iron Triangle" of Bureaucrats, Politicians and Beneficiaries in "Tyranny of the Status Quo". When voters reject tax proposals, bureaucrats lobby politicians to lower the bar. We've seen how lowering the bar for Bond measures to 55% has mortgaged the future of our children. And, when the parcel tax senior exemption ploy wasn't enough to get over the bar, politicians added another beneficiary, the disabled, to strengthen the Iron Triangle for another assault on the bar.
Steve Hayes February 24, 2012 at 04:54 PM
ack You just dug the hole deeper! What good will $10,000 of "compensation" do if it really costs 4X or 5X that to adequately educate some of these special needs children. Again, if your approach was followed most of the kids simply would be cast aside. Generally, our society has much more compassion than you have. Most of us recognize the importance of helping these kids even if our kids do not have special needs. I wonder who is worse - a teacher who (allegedly) denies a special needs child food for a period of time or a person who advocates denying the child all hope of a reasonable education?
dorothea March 24, 2012 at 04:10 PM
to both sides of this argument i would like to say this... my monthly income is not going up yet all the services i require have. granted not all fee increases are going to the city but some are. what i pay for water is up. sewer is up. garbage is up. utilities are up. the more i conserve the more i pay. i got news people, someone here is not going to get there check this month. i'm a stone. i don't bleed money. maybe it would be helpful to the city of rwc to stop spending money on lame ideas like those signs all around the city pointing to our theater district. what theater district? it's a movie theater on top of a parking garage with junk plus on one corner and the business de jour on the other. i've been in this town a long time and they have thrown money away on a lot of botched projects going all the way back to trying to sell pieces of the old 49er practice field to make a buck but dropped thousands of dollars instead.
Jack Hickey March 24, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Steve, you said: "Generally, our society has much more compassion than you have." Compassion is an individual thing. Many members of our society exhibit that compassion by contributing their time and money to charitable organizations they trust. You, and many others, confuse society with government. Government should not be in the charity business. The compassion which our representatives expressed in enacting the special-ed legislation was misplaced. Skeptics may even conclude it was a ploy to secure the votes of yet another special interest group. Divide and conquer. And, so it seems, they have. I urge Seniors and Disabled persons, who are "bribed" with exemptions from the Parcel Tax, to send a message that they "cannot be bought" by voting NO on Measure W.
Steve Hayes March 24, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Jack I am not sure you are thinking these things through. You are suggesting disabled people should vote to deny benefits to younger disabled people - that is nonsense! If we did what you suggest many parents would be economically forced to place their kids in state institutions for life and that would cost the taxpayers a great deal more than trying to make these children more independent and productive members of society. Saving us a dollar today to we can pay two dollars tomorrow is not a wise decision.
Jack Hickey March 24, 2012 at 07:08 PM
I say to these voters "let your conscience be your guide"
Jack Hickey March 28, 2012 at 03:39 PM
NOTICE- for those property owners whose homes sit on multiple, contiguous lots. If you receive separate tax bills for each lot (as I do) you will pay multiple parcel taxes.


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