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"It’s Different This Time": Community Gets Behind Third Try at JUHSD Parcel Tax

Impassioned teachers, students, and parents urged JUHSD Board members to move forward with a third parcel tax campaign.

It was standing room only at Tuesday’s Jefferson Union High School District meeting.

Teachers, parents, and students spilled out into the anteroom, waiting for a turn to implore the board to pay TBWB, a San Francisco-based campaign strategy group, for help with a new parcel tax campaign. 

Sarah Stern, of TBWB Strategies, and Brian Godbe, of Godbe Research, a public opinion firm, pitched board members their ideas to resurrect a parcel tax that failed - for a second time in 2011 - in May.

May's , the district’s “second try” at a parcel tax following a nearly , would have levied a flat $96-per-parcel tax on property owners for four years. The measure would have raised an estimated $3.2 annually for non-administration salaries and to restore previously cut academic programs.

The measure never breached a 60 percent approval rate, let alone the 2/3 majority approval a school parcel tax needs to pass. 

But with their experience in San Mateo county, Stern and Godbe stated, confidence and community support, sensitivity to the economy, public employee salaries perceptions, and struggling families, and with correct timing, JUHSD will be able to win the coveted parcel tax which secures monies for struggling district schools.

With two failed elections, the Board had much to consider in regards to political analysis, campaign costs, and end-of-election results. The cost of completing another area voting analysis will cost approximately $55,000-$60,000, not including some important options like translation fees and postage. 

Parents, teachers, and students urged the Board to accept the cost responsibility for a new parcel tax campaign.

Kathy Shiokari, a and parent, represented a group of Pacifica parents who are on board to do all they can to help run a successful campaign.

“Is there support? Yes, there is support," she said. "We are motivated enough to go out and find those people who didn’t vote before to vote now. Please go forward with TBWB and let us get this money for our schools and our children.”

Kalimah Salahuddin, President of Saving Pacifica Schools, asked to help head the campaign, stating, “This is possible. We are parents. We do as much as we can. I’ve attended community meetings, and we have a strong parent base. I urge the board to move forward. It needs to be parent and community led. Before it came down from the district. This time, it’s from us.”

Adam Weinstein, teacher at Oceana High School, added, “We won’t make it without the parcel tax. We can get teachers on board. I’m one of the teachers on board. We can do more, and we will.”

Jeffrey Witter, student, succinctly stated, “I doubt that students entering now will have same education I have been fortunate to have. We are not the government’s main interest.”

Paula Tollan, Oceana parent, summed up the feelings of the parents and teachers in attendance.

“Parents and schools are getting together. It’s different this time,” she said.

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CQ January 20, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Per the Franchise Tax Board as reported by the Chronicle http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/23/BU5Q1M3HP5.DTL , parcel taxes listed on your county property tax bill are not considered an allowable expense to deduct on yearly income tax returns. There are quite a few of parcel taxes and other non-deductible items (JUHSD landscaping and lighting maintenance assessment, etc.) which FTB will audit and decline from 2012 on.
Lionel Emde January 20, 2012 at 05:46 AM
I'm sorry that the schools have become the political tool by which voters are scared into voting for new taxes, when they can ill afford it. Outfits such as Godbe Research and TBWB Strategies make their living from polling that produces results wanted by their clients. And I wish the reporter would bother to spell people's names correctly. Kathy Shiokari deserves to have her name spelled correctly.
Suzanne Scafuri January 20, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Hi Lionel, Thanks for letting me know about the misspelling. I had asked someone the spelling of her name when I was at the meeting, and I may have heard incorrectly. I apologize for the error.

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