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Smart Voter
San Mateo County, CA June 5, 2012 Election
Measure W
Educational Parcel Tax
Redwood City School District

2/3 Approval Required

Pass: 11,181 / 69.2% Yes votes ...... 4,975 / 30.8% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Jul 12 3:14pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (81/81)
36.5% Voter Turnout (123,330/337,702)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

To improve local elementary and middle school education for all students with funds that cannot be taken by the State; enhance reading, writing, math, and science skills; attract and retain qualified teachers; and support school libaries; shall the Redwood City Elementary School District levy an educational parcel tax of $67 annually for five years only, exempting seniors, with independent citizen oversight, annual reports to the community, no money for administrators' salaries, and all money benefitting local schools?

Impartial Analysis
The California Constitution and state law authorizes a school district, upon approval of two-thirds of the voting electorate, to levy a qualified special tax for specified purposes.

By this measure, the Governing Board of the Redwood City School District proposes to levy a special tax for a period of five years beginning "immediately following the adoption of the Measure" by voters and ending five years later. This tax shall be at the rate of $67 per year per parcel on all taxable parcels in the Redwood City Elementary School District.

A parcel shall be defined as any unit of real property in the Redwood City Elementary School District which receives a separate tax bill for ad valorem property taxes from the San Mateo County tax officials. Any property owner who is either aged 65 years or older or who receives Supplemental Security Income for a disability (regardless of age), if the person occupies a parcel as a principal residence, may apply for an exemption from this special tax. All public property which would otherwise be exempt from ad valorem property taxes will also be exempt from the imposition of the tax.

The stated purposes of the special tax are to: improve local elementary and middle school education for all students with funds that cannot be taken by the State; enhance reading, writing, math, and science skills; attract and retain qualified teachers; and support school libraries. The proceeds from the tax may be used only for these purposes and no proceeds may be used to pay for administrative salaries.

The proceeds of the special tax will be placed into a special account. An independent citizens' oversight committee will be established to ensure that revenues from this tax are spent only on the listed purposes. An annual report will be filed with the Governing Board that accounts for the parcel tax revenues collected and expended and the status of projects funded by the tax.

A "YES" vote on this measure would allow a special tax to be levied on property within the boundaries of the Redwood City Elementary School District for a period of five years beginning immediately following the adoption of the Measure and ending five years later in an amount of $67 per year per taxable parcel for the purposes listed above.

A "NO" vote on this measure would not allow the special tax to be levied.

This measure passes if two-thirds of those voting on the measure vote "yes".

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Arguments For Measure W Arguments Against Measure W
Vote YES on W to improve education in neighborhood elementary and middle schools which serve Redwood City, San Carlos, Menlo Park, Atherton, and Woodside students.

Measure W provides local control and stable funding for our schools - the State cannot take one penny of Measure W. Measure W will benefit all students, going directly to classrooms to protect academic essentials.

In recent years, student achievement in our local schools has been increasing steadily. Our student test scores on statewide exams are on the rise, especially in reading and math. Three of our schools are California Distinguished Schools.

Yet, in the past five years, State budget cuts to our local schools totaled $13 million. In response, the school district tightened its belt, cut 120 teaching and staff positions, reduced salaries, and cut administration for improved efficiency and fiscal responsibility.

State cuts have also reduced academic programs, increased some class sizes by 50 percent, and reduced library hours. Due to the State's budget uncertainty, our schools face even more cuts next year.

Redwood City School District is one of the lowest-funded in San Mateo County and the only school district in our area that is not supported by a local education funding measure, like Measure W.

Vote YES on W to improve education in our local schools.

  • Protect academic programs in math, science, reading, and writing

  • Attract and retain qualified teachers

  • Support school libraries

Fiscal Accountability

  • All funds will stay in local schools and cannot be taken by the State

  • No funds for administrators' salaries

  • Citizen oversight and annual audits ensure fiscal responsibility

  • Expires in 5 years and cannot be extended without voter approval

  • A senior citizen homeowners' exemption is available

Better schools will benefit everyone, even those without children in schools. Strong schools protect property values, keeping our community strong.

Please join us. Vote YES on W.

/s/ Brent Britschgi, Former Redwood City Mayor

/s/ Rosanne Foust, Redwood City Council Member

/s/ Ralph A. Nobles, Community Leader

/s/ Debra Adler, Redwood City School District Parent

/s/ Arnold Arreola, Realtor

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Unfounded Pessimism

In 1993, 2005, and 2009, proponents promised dire consequences if voters didn't pass parcel taxes. All failed - and student achievement, test scores, etc. improved anyway.

WITHOUT A PARCEL TAX, general fund revenue grew 4.9% per year on average; from $33 million in 1993 to $81 million today.

Are we alone? Hardly. The vast majority of California school districts do NOT levy a parcel tax.

$13 million in cuts?? Since 2007/08, general fund revenue has increased from $78 to $81 million.

Lowest funded?? Of the 9 comparable elementary school districts in San Mateo County, RCSD ranked #3 in per student funding (and #2 in average teacher pay).

Only $4972 per student?? That's just one component of general fund revenue. Revenue from all sources totals roughly $90 million, or $10,160 per student.

50% class size growth?? Between 2001 and 2011, average class size increased from 23.1 to 25.5 students.

Stabilize funding?? A fixed-size surtax can't reduce year-to-year variability in the budget.

But you can prevent a 1 1/2% drop in funding 5 years from now by voting against Measure W today.

/s/ Harland Harrison, Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ John "Jack" Hickey, Director, Sequoia Healthcare District

Do the math: That's $335 in new parcel taxes over the next 5 years!

Many people need that money to pay bills. Or eat dinner.

64% of students in our district come from low-income families qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch programs. For a miniscule increase in the District's budget (roughly 1 1/2% - a fraction of administrative spending), Measure W would force them to skimp on necessities or pile up credit card debt.

Wouldn't it be more efficient to spend $335 on your children yourself rather than turn it over to a faceless bureaucrat who might do something worthwhile with it?

Not counting state taxes we pay, annual property taxes to support the RCSD already exceed $1,600 per parcel on average. Renters can't deduct property taxes, even though their rent pays for them.

Just what is this parcel tax for?

Some board members asked for specificity in the description. One responded, "Some people might not be interested in P.E. fields." Given the vague language that evolved, who knows what they will do with this money?

Independent Oversight Committee? Ha!

The Board itself would determine "its composition, duties, funding ... formation, and operation." Did you spot the part about funding? Just what we need - more yes-men in the bureaucracy, doing nothing of real value.

Remember when the San Mateo Community College District built a health club with bond money, right under the nose of their "Independent Oversight Committee"?

Our community is an island of relative affordability, surrounded by California's most expensive school districts. Please, vote NO and help keep Redwood City affordable.

/s/ Lois Garcia, RWC resident

/s/ Gordon Myers

/s/ Nancy Myers

/s/ Harland Harrison, Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ John J. "Jack" Hickey, Healthcare District Director

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Authors of the argument against Measure W oppose EVERY school measure in San Mateo County. As usual, their arguments are misleading and distort the truth.

The Redwood City Council, Redwood City Chamber of Commerce, elected leaders in Atherton, Menlo Park, and San Carlos, and the League of Women Voters of South San Mateo County know the facts. They support a YES vote on W.

Because our schools are the lowest-funded in our area, local children need Measure W to receive a quality public edcucation like students in neighboring communities.

Our schools have suffered $13 million in cuts and "tightened the belt" by reducing district office administration by 20%, laying off 120 teachers, and increasing class sizes.

There's no "fat" left to cut.

Measure W is limited, targeted, and specific. It can ONLY be used to protect math, science, reading, and writing programs; retain qualified teachers, and support school libraries.

Measure W's citizen oversight committee, annual reports, and annual independent third-party aduits provide transparency, verifying all funds are used for voter-approved purposes. No funds can be spent on administators' salaries.

Measure W won't solve the entire budget problem. It provides $1.7 million in stable funding to protect academic priorities, giving our schools local control.

For less than $6 per month, we will provide local students with skills needed for future success in high school, college, and well-paying jobs.

Measure W is a win for local students and our community. Good schools mean safe neighborhoods and strong property values.

Vote YES.

/s/ John "Jack" Greenalch, Former Redwood City Mayor

/s/ Alicia Aguirre, Mayor, Redwood City

/s/ D. Michael Kastrop, Architect

/s/ Janet Borgens, Small Business Owner

/s/ Paula Uccelli, San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame Member

Full Text of Measure W

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Created: July 26, 2012 13:02 PDT
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