The Jefferson Union High School District Board was somber when it was notified that the district’s parcel tax after an initial ballot count was released Tuesday night.
Measure C, the parcel tax, was supported by 59.5 percent of voters and opposed by 40.5 percent, but needs a two-thirds majority approval to pass.
What the board—and the group assembled to watch its meeting in Daly City on Tuesday—now fears most is the budget cuts that will come in the wake of Measure C’s failure.
“It’s been a long, tough road," said Laurie Frater, a board member from Pacifica. “What I really don’t relish is not just that this lost, but the prospect of the cuts we’re going to have to make if it doesn’t pass because this is going to be horrendous.”
Frater said that while the district increased class sizes, froze teacher pay raises and cut programming two years ago, it did not have to make any cuts this year because of $1.1 million in federal stimulus money it received. That money won't be around next spring, however, and the district will need to remove about $3.3 million from its expenditures, or just under 8 percent of its annual budget. Everything will be on the table, said Frater.
“Our staff is cut down to the bare bone,” said Caro Pemberton, principal of . “Our counselors are cut and our teachers have taken pay cuts, the school year is shorter, we cut summer school, transportation, supplies, art. It’s going to be a very deep look into what we can possibly cut.”
Pemberton showed clear signs of frustration with voters for not passing the parcel tax Tuesday.
“I’m deeply disappointed,” she said. “I would have thought that our community would have realized how important young people are to the community and how dire a situation this is and come to action to save the schools.”
Alyssa Jenkins, a teacher at said she felt betrayed by voters and is seriously considering finding a new career.
“Frankly, I think there’s an extreme climate of suspicion in Pacifica and they don’t recognize how much we’ve already given up,” she said. “I think that the recent attack on teachers and other public employees and their pensions has people thinking that we’re living off the fat of the land and we need to tighten our belts. They don’t understand that the belts have been tightened and tightened and tightened.”
Measure C, 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.
Thomas Minshew, principal at Terra Nova High School and incoming superintendent of the Jefferson Union High School District, said it’s unclear if the district will try yet again to pass a parcel tax.
“That will be up to the board,” he said.
It will also be up to the board where to make cuts next spring.