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Measure E Fails

School parcel tax that needed to win by 67 percent received only 65 percent.

Measure E failed Tuesday night by less than two percent — which means Pleasanton's budget-strapped schools won't receive a reprieve.

"We were so close," said Valerie Arkin, president.

"Now that we don't have it, we're going to have to start making some very difficult cuts."

Out of 20,610 votes, 13,430 people voted yes, while 7,180 voted no, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters website.

That means 65.16 percent voted yes, while 34.84 percent voted no. To pass, the parcel tax needed a two-thirds vote, or 67 percent.

The election outcome was posted here about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday. Residents mailed in ballots between April 4 and the 8 p.m. Tuesday deadline.

"This measure wasn't going to fix anything," said resident Doug Miller, who opposed the measure because he worried the money would go toward teacher salary increases and benefits rather than academic programs or thwarting teacher layoffs.

"Until and unless the board freezes the step-and-column increases while we're having these financial difficulties, the board will have to continue to lay off teachers," he said.

If the measure had passed, property owners in Pleasanton would have paid $98 per parcel each year for four years, generating about $2 million per year, or $8 million total.

The district is facing a $7.7 million shortfall for the 2011-12 school year. Local officials say that Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent announcement that schools might see a reduction of up to $5 billion after his May budget revise could bring budget cuts up to $12 million in Pleasanton.

This money would have gone a long way toward bridging that gap, said measure supporters.

Arkin said that over the past several years, Pleasanton schools have seen increased class sizes, cuts in library and custodial services, and recently the district had to lay off 67 teachers and 20 administrators.

Before the votes were counted, resident Chris Armstrong, 45, said that while the school system in Pleasanton has a stellar reputation, so do all the other districts in the area.

"We need this tax in order to compete with other districts, and the reality is, they have these parcel taxes," said Armstrong, who has two girls, 11 and 13.

We all need to contribute," he said. "The parents, the teachers, the administrators. If we're willing to pay this, then the teachers need to be willing to compromise and the administrators need to start making some tough decisions that might upset teachers."

Opponents said Measure E would have led to $15 million in step-and-column pay raises throughout the district, but school officials said the number was more like $6 million over four years.

"I thought it was interesting that if you look at both sides, the Measure E supporters and opponents, people were generally against pay raises and that really was at the heart of the opposition," Miller said.

He said he hopes the district will take a hard look at the pay increases.

Arkin said that while it's too soon to say whether the community will float another measure like this, it will probably happen.

"It took a lot of money and volunteer effort to get this measure on the ballot, so I would say there won't be a new measure anytime soon," she said.

"But the cuts we will have to make going forward are going to be so devastating that I anticipate us having to consider it at some point in the next two or three years."

Pleasantonian May 06, 2011 at 01:34 AM
Very true. We had problems with some teachers also. At Harvest park a teacher lost my daughter's project when my daughter was asking her to look for it she would not do it so we had to go to talk to the principal and than she would find the project within the day and it was worth a lot of points and grades were closed so the teacher had to go to fill out all the papers to change my daughter's grade. This is happening all the time. The reason why our schools are good are the parents making sure the kids do what they are supposed to do for school not the teachers.
wilster May 17, 2011 at 05:27 PM
here's an idea--for the 65% of you that voted yes (including teachers): why don't you put your money where your mouth is. Feel free to get out your checkbooks and write a check to PUSD for $100 and do so for the next four years. That's $1.3m/year to the schools. But you won't because your mindset is that other people should pay for it, right??
Sandy Piderit May 17, 2011 at 09:12 PM
I have donated to the schools (through PPIE and my school's PTA) in the past, and I will do so again. The CORE campaign is underway right now to raise funds to pay for library hours and tech support at http://www.ppie.org There is also an initiative underway to raise funds to pay for class sizes to stay the same in grades K-3 next year at http://www.pleasantoncsr.org I pay my taxes, too -- I went to public school in Connecticut, but I pay for schools here, because I live here now. Where did you go to school, wlister? Who paid for your school?
Pleasanton Parcel Tax May 17, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Sandy - What does it matter where 'wilster' went to school? 'wilster' pays taxes in multiple ways that make their way back to school districts, whether it is federal taxes, state income taxes, local property taxes, the lottery, and more. The issue is those who want more taxes imposed should be the first to line up and lead the contributions, like you did. I think the first $250,000 raised by CORE should be given to the school district to replenish the general fund for the cost of Measure E. After all, PUSD took from our kids education to run a failed election that was championed by the 'community' (remember?). Therefore, those who lead Measure E and CORE should be the first to return $250,000 in community funds that could have been used to save 3 teachers this year.
Sandy Piderit May 18, 2011 at 01:28 AM
To be honest, in part I asked because I wanted to hint at the idea that the adult community as a whole should support the education of our next generation. Wilster seems to be implying that those who do not donate voluntarily are somehow stealing from him by advocating for a parcel tax. I think it is democratic to be able to vote as a community on taxes. Sometimes I get frustrated with the argument that parents should bear full responsibility for paying for their children's education. I see the support of education as a community responsibility and I do not believe it should be solely funded by donations. I acknowledge that wilster may not have been making that argument. Nevertheless, I am genuinely curious about wanting to understand wilster's point of view -- and I think personal history shapes individuals' points of view.

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