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CCSF parcel tax ballot measure would secure faculty raises, sustain classes

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(Ekevara Kitpowsong/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

A parcel tax extension up for voter approval in November would secure raises for City College of San Francisco employees and help the college retain its class schedule after it’s set to lose more than $35 million in state funding next school year.

With Proposition B, CCSF’s Board of Trustees is asking San Francisco voters to increase and extend a parcel tax for the college that voters first approved in 2012 and is set to expire in 2020.

The increase — from $79 to $99 per parcel a year — is meant to ensure the college can pay faculty the raises it agreed to under a long-awaited consensus the two sides reached over the summer, as well as wage hikes for classified staff.

None of the $19 million a year that the Controller’s Office estimates the parcel tax will generate could be used to pay administrators.

The hike will also help the college keep its libraries open and maintain its class schedules, which administrators expect to cut by 5 percent a school year for six years if Prop. B passes, or more if the ballot measure fails.

While the parcel tax won’t expire for another four years, proponents argue an early renewal will show the college is fiscally sound with a stable source of locally controlled funding for the next 15 years.

Proponents of the parcel tax say such financial stability is important especially now because CCSF’s accreditor is expected to visit in mid-October and determine early next year whether the college keeps its accreditation.

“They’re going to be asking us what our long term plans for financial stability [are] and they’re going to be hitting us if we don’t have one,” said Board of Trustees President Rafael Mandelman, who noted that the four years left on the tax would not be considered adequate.

The ballot measure has the support of the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 and Service Employees International Union Local 1021 — which represent the faculty and staff, respectively — but the AFT 2121 has previously raised concerns over how parcel tax funding has been spent.

During contract negotiations, the faculty union revealed that CCSF had not spent any parcel tax funding in the classroom in 2014-15 and had failed to convene an oversight committee as required in the initial ballot text.

Mandelman, who acknowledged the failures, chalked them up to the previous lack of local control at CCSF. The Board of Trustees was stripped of its powers over the college in 2013 and just regained them over the last two years.

AFT 2121 President Tim Killikelly said the union decided to support Prop. B after the administration agreed in the contract to be transparent with its spending and ensure the oversight committee meets.

“The oversight committee was really a very key thing,” Killikelly said. “Once there was a committee of citizens that will oversee what is happening, that is a huge component to make sure that everything is done in a transparent way.”

The ballot measure is opposed by the Libertarian Party of San Francisco, which has expressed doubts as to whether CCSF will be able to rectify its problems in the future if it has not been able to in the last four years.

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