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."