At first, tax didn’t succeed, so Pacifica tries again

Responding to the state budget cuts that would create a $1.1 million deficit for Pacifica School District, the school board voted to put a parcel tax measure on the June ballot, the same levy that did not pass last year.

In a meeting Wednesday, the school board unanimously voted to approve the $96 annual parcel tax that would help the district avoid cutting teachers and school programs. According to the district’s financial officer Josephine Peterson, this year’s cut would be almost as much as the district cut since 2001.

The district tried to pass the parcel tax in May, but the measure received less than 66 percent necessary to pass. School officials said this time around they hope more people will vote to approve the tax as it would protect the existing programs.

“This time, it’s ‘Do you want to keep what you have?,’” board member Mike O’Neill said.

One parent blamed last year’s failure on people’s apathy and seniors who voted against the tax.

“A lot of seniors voted against it — for their one vote, we needed two,” said Lynn Schuette, the mother of a second-grade student at Ocean Shore Elementary School. “My hope is that seniors will abstain from voting because they abstain from paying.”

Seniors received exemptions from having to pay the parcel tax.

The school board has already decided on cuts it would make if the parcel tax does not pass. According to Peterson, the district would stop watering fields, eliminate a grounds keeper, some custodial crew and a crossing guard, and freeze salaries at January’s level.

“We’re trying to keep it out of directly affecting class size and education,” O’Neill said. “However, the quality of life will go down not only in the schools, but in town.”

The school board met with local sports teams to let them know the fields may not be available starting in July if the parcel tax doesn’t go through.

“A key factor for well-being of students is a sense of support from the community — not watering the sports field is one of the most obvious signs that they are not supported,” said Schuette, whose son plays soccer and baseball.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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