Three R’s: Burlingame schools could benefit from Measure E

Three R’s: Burlingame schools could benefit from Measure E

Pacifica, Burlingame districts seek new taxes for schools

Pacifica and Burlingame school districts both have parcel tax measures on November’s ballot. In both cases, the goal is to raise money to run the schools at a time when costs are rising and state funding for education could decline further.

Pacifica School District’s Measure L would pay for the retention and attraction of qualified teachers; library services and computer instruction in the classroom; and student achievement in math, science, reading and writing programs, according to district reports.

The tax would cost property owners $118 per parcel for the next five years, starting July 1, 2012, and raise $1.2 million a year, said Superintendent Wendy Tukloff. The tax would replace an existing $96 parcel tax that raises just $1 million a year, she said.

Without the money, district officials say they will have to re-evaluate class sizes, currently at 24 students for grades K-3.

While the additional funding will provide a “bump,” Tukloff said the money would not compensate for the departure of federal stimulus dollars, or the $1.7 million in annual funding from the state.

State Assemblyman Jerry Hill and San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley have both endorsed the measure. Burlingame Elementary School District’s Measure E is a very similar, if less expensive parcel tax.

It would be used to procure classroom supplies; help retain quality teachers and small class sizes; and fund math, English and science instruction, including science labs, according to district reports.

The tax would cost property owners $76 per parcel for the next four years and raise $585,000 a year, or about 2.5 percent of the district’s $22 million in annual expenditures, said Maggie MacIsaac, chief business official for the district.

Without the parcel tax, the district would likely have to make library cuts, increase class sizes, and remove physical education and reading specialists, MacIsaac said.

Measure E has the support of the Burlingame Community Education Foundation and the district’s PTA Council, which last spring launched a joint campaign to raise one-time funds for the district.

“It was a huge campaign, this esprit de corps that was created, but it was a short-term solution,” said MacIsaac, who feels “optimistic” the measure will pass.

Supporters say parcel taxes help maintain property values, since quality schools draw homebuyers.

In either district, levied taxes would be overseen by a Citizen’s Oversight Committee, and funds could not be spent on administrator salaries. Senior citizens, as well as disabled persons receiving Supplemental Security Income, would be exempt.

Both taxes require two-thirds voter approval to pass.

Bay Area NewsJerry HillLocalPeninsulaSan Francisco

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