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Added Ballots Push Measure K Over 2/3's without Pinole, Hercules

New votes added late Friday to the semi-official election returns indicate that the Measure K parcel tax for West Contra Costa schools would have passed without Pinole and Hercules, where support was weakest.

The addition of nearly 5,000 previously uncounted votes to the Measure K totals now show the proposed parcel tax for West Contra Costa schools would have passed without Pinole and Hercules, where support was lowest.

The new votes represent the bulk of the ballots that had not been included in the first . Some ballots remain uncounted, so final results are still pending. 

The measure failed to win the required two-thirds approval, receiving 64.59 percent of 30,559 votes that had been counted Wednesday, and school board President Charles Ramsey at the time by saying it's time to consider whether Hercules and Pinole, where support for the measure was lukewarm, should separate from the district.

The initial results Wednesday had shown the measure would have come closer to approval without Pinole and Hercules – with 66.61 percent – but not enough to pass. But the addition of 4,936 new votes late Friday by the Contra Costa County Elections Division showed that the measure would have received 67.92 percent without Hercules and Pinole, according to a Patch tabulation of precinct-by-precinct results.

Ramsey had noted that support by city council members was notably lacking in Hercules and Pinole (except for Pete Murray of Pinole) in contrast to endorsements in other cities. He noted also that the ballot argument against Measure K was signed by Sue Pricco, who led an unsuccessful attempt in 2005 for Hercules to secede from the district.

Asked if he had further comment following the new results Friday, Ramsey said by email, "I hope that the election spurs conversation and debate about local funding for schools. I value and appreciate the hard work put out by each community. It is just disappointing when you come so close, but fall short due to Prop. 13 requirements." 

"Although we lost," he added, "it was a great effort and I am proud of the work done by everyone on the campaign."

The new votes – which include Hercules and Pinole – pushed the total votes counted up to 35,495 and the approval rate up slightly to 65.22 percent, still short of the two-thirds needed to pass.

In the latest results, Kensington has the highest approval rate – with 82.04 percent – of the district's seven largest communities. El Cerrito is second with 72.34 percent. Richmond, which did not reach two-thirds in the results released Wednesday, is now one vote over the required two-thirds, with 66.67 percent. 

The lowest rate is found in Pinole with 54.19 percent, followed by Hercules with 54.9 percent. El Sobrante has 56.25 percent and San Pablo registers 65.20 percent.

Vote totals for Measure K updated late Friday, tabulated by Patch from precinct results released by the Contra Costa Elections Division:

Yes No Total % Yes Kensington 1731 379 2110 82.04 El Cerrito 4628 1770 6398 72.34 Richmond 8451 4225 12676 66.67 San Pablo 1381 737 2118 65.20 El Sobrante 1274 991 2265 56.25 Hercules 1955 1606 3561 54.90 Pinole 1952 1650 3602 54.19 All voters 23151 12344 35495 65.22

Note: the totals for all voters are greater than for the seven communities combined because they include unincorporated areas that are not part of these seven jurisdictions.

MM June 12, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Reality check: All the WCCUSD schools in Hercules have been built or rebuilt in the past 8 years including the high school, middle school & 3 elementary schools. All the WCCUSD schools in Pinole have been rebuilt in the past 8 years including the middle school & 2 out of 4 elementary schools. PVHS will be completely new by 2015. That leaves only Collins & Shannon, & Shannon has been slated for closure. My point is that we can't just take our "new toys" & go play by ourselves now. If Pinole & Hercules form their own district, they'll take on huge financial & legal obligations. Is that a good idea when Hercules is almost bankrupt & Pinole residents don't want new taxes? Bonds have to be repaid, you know, & all 9 new schools were built with bond money. Parcel taxes like Measure K are the only way school districts can take back financial control from the state. Some Pinole parents send their children to what they feel are better school districts in Moraga, Orinda or Albany. Guess what? They all have parcel taxes! Their schools are better because residents put their money where their mouth is & support small class sizes, experienced teachers, open libraries, clean campuses, music, art & sports programs. I'm very disappointed Pinole City Council did not support Measure K. As a Pinole homeowner, my taxes would gone up by about $45 per year - a small price to pay to educate our future leaders. Our beautiful new schools are useless if we can't afford to adequately staff them.
CW June 12, 2012 at 08:33 PM
@ Barbara..... If we pay taxes to maintain infrastructure... and someone else comes in, or is brought in, or is transferred in, or is ushered in.... however you want to say it... and they bring no financial aid to help pay for this at all... and the taxpayers of a community... ANY community have to pay to maintain the area, that people from outside the very community use.. no matter WHAT city it is.. doesn't matter... wouldn't you feel just a little "dumped on"???? Bring all the students in.... No problem... The taxpayers of the city get to absorb the cost of the litter pick up... (when was the last time you saw a student pick up litter?) absorb the cost of running the sewage treatment plant... (oh ya... forgot about that one too I'll bet).... absorb the cost of the extra vehicles on the streets that have to be maintained, paved, crosswalks painted... curbs painted.. as the cars and buses that come there for a single reason do.... to bring their children into a different neighborhood... absorb the cost of any other city service that is provided (Police, Fire, etc...)... As a taxpayer.. I feel dumped on... and you should too.. for the students that come into YOUR neighborhood... without paying a dime... the WCCUSD is a big district.. and its operations impact many cities.. often times cities that maintain the DISTRICTS playing fields... and the local TAXPAYERS expense. They act without consideration to local effect.
CW June 12, 2012 at 08:34 PM
And I mean my children... because it is for them that this is all about... If I have to pay more to support the district indirectly...it takes more money out of the coffers for my children.
Paul June 12, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Except for the fact that many voters don't have school-age kids, your numbers would have made sense. I suspect the vote by parents of WCCUSD students was well in excess of 2/3 in favor.
Michael O'Connor June 12, 2012 at 09:38 PM
If the WCCUSD were to be broken up, the bonds would continue to be paid as they are now. Any additional bonds would be paid by the new units. Any adjustments in the presently allocated bond supported spending would be covered by the WCCUSD dissolution agreement. Sooner rather than later.
Amy Kang June 12, 2012 at 09:54 PM
@Barbara, I'm a parent at Mira Vista. I can assure you that the only students who are eligible for the bus are in the Special Ed. program.
Ira Sharenow June 13, 2012 at 12:09 AM
The Patch survey is not a scientific survey, but the current results indicate that there is a considerable interest in breaking up WCCUSD. I hope that those who are on e-trees and phone trees will contact their colleagues and get more people involved. Can someone set up a Facebook account to support a separate El Cerrito-Kensington district? I wonder if the El Cerrito council can put an advisory vote on the November ballot: Should El Cerrito and Kensington form their own district or else join Albany’s district?
Redrock June 13, 2012 at 01:34 AM
@MM You are preaching to the choir! What you must understand is that a majority of Pinole are +60 year residents who hailed from the Ozarks and deep south during WW II- to work in the Richmond and Oakland shipyards. Many can barely read or write. They have paid their full dues to Pinole, their children have grown and left the nest. There is no incentive for them to fund public measures- such as education or environmental concerns. They want to live tax free and unburdened of local politics. These people should be pushed out of an airplane plain at 50,000 feet when they turn 85…
Giorgio C. June 13, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Was this engineering blunder reported to the following oversight agency? If not, it should have been. http://www.pels.ca.gov/consumers/enforce.shtml We already had one major blunder in Hercules on Carson St. It sounds like the developer-and-or-engineer should have been sued. Did the district sue them or was this one of the developers who sponsored the election campaigns of Kronenberg and Ramsey?
Michael O'Connor June 13, 2012 at 06:13 AM
It's old news, G.C. This story goes back 7 or eight years. The district did sue. Crooked engineering firm falsified testing. In order to expedite the early projects, durring the boom years in the Bush Bubble, good people were all booked up so they hired someone who had no history of fraud, but not much of any record of any kind. He had all the State qualifications, but was a crook. Kropp was brought in to clean up the mess. He is generally regarded as the best in the field.
Michael O'Connor June 13, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Red, that's a bit harsh, don't you think.
Ira Sharenow June 13, 2012 at 07:42 AM
District reorganization Google search: District Reorganization site:cde.ca.gov http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/do/ http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/ds/reorg.asp Lists of district reorganizations Chapter 6 quotes. Statutory Conditions in Education Code Section 35753 The State Board of Education may approve proposals for the reorganization of districts, if the board has determined, with respect to the proposal and the resulting districts, that all of the following conditions are substantially met: (a) The reorganized districts will be adequate in terms of number of pupils enrolled. (b) The districts are each organized on the basis of a substantial community identity. (c) The proposal will result in an equitable division of property and facilities of the original district or districts. (d) The reorganization of the districts will preserve each affected district's ability to educate students in an integrated environment and will not promote racial or ethnic discrimination or segregation. Any increase in costs to the state as a result of the proposed reorganization will be insignificant and otherwise incidental to the reorganization. (f) The proposed reorganization will continue to promote sound education performance and will not significantly disrupt the educational programs in the districts affected by the proposed reorganization.
Ira Sharenow June 13, 2012 at 07:44 AM
Any increase in school facilities costs as a result of the proposed reorganization will be insignificant and otherwise incidental to the reorganization. (h) The proposed reorganization is primarily designed for purposes other than to significantly increase property values. (i) The proposed reorganization will continue to promote sound fiscal management and not cause a substantial negative effect on the fiscal status of the proposed district or any existing district affected by the proposed reorganization. (j) Any other criteria as the board may, by regulation, prescribe. The State Board of Education may approve a proposal for the reorganization of school districts if the board determines that it is not practical or possible to apply the criteria of this section literally, and that the circumstances with respect to the proposals provide an exceptional situation sufficient to justify approval of the proposals. ---- The expert at CDE is Larry Shirey 916-822-1468. He is the field representative for district reorganization. The unit is Charter Apportionments and District Reorganization within the division of School Fiscal Services.
Richard Leigh June 13, 2012 at 05:54 PM
The real reason prop k lost was the failure to adequately explain what the funds were to be used for. The explanations of the funds purpose made no sense at all and couched in meaningless generalities void of specifics. The bond oversight committee would have had nothing to oversight but thin air. A more intelligent explanation of the purposes of the proposed funds would have carried the day. Residents are not stupid and object to writing any more blank checks. Ps I voted for measure k for the kids sake.
TT June 13, 2012 at 06:18 PM
honestly, pinole and hercules cut off their nose to spite everyones faces. Who knows if it is sunbelt retirees or tea partiers or apathy, or actual conscience, but they turned down free money. El cerrito and kensington have higher property values. we would have been shouldering more of the burden of k anyway. which means that hercules and pinole would have been getting our money for their schools at a relative bargain. sorry to be bald, but there it is. i find it odd that a place that gets so many spanking new schools wouldn't want to fund better teachers etc.
TT June 13, 2012 at 06:19 PM
there are three things here 1. we should put the funding measures back on the ballot and try to make clear what the money is for/how it will be managed. 2. we should research splitting from places that may not want to fund schools in the same way as our townships. if we value funding schools at a higher level, we must do this. 3. we should ALL actively begin working to undo prop 13 whose strictures get us into this bizarre funding mess. It's retrograde miserly stinginess of our grandparents generation. It has hurt us already and it needs to end. Lastly, everyone, please note that albany is its own thing in alameda county. We can't cross county lines with a new district. Be at least aware of that! Still, what is it about albany we want- that level of civic engagement and enrichment and stability? Yes, we want that. Let's learn from them.
TT June 13, 2012 at 06:22 PM
One more personal note: As parents, do you really know what your kids are going through? I grew up here. I went to these schools. I had concrete fall on my head during test and water leak from bathrooms and and a gun turned on me and classes with no textbooks or no teachers and gang violence and classes where I had to sit on the radiator for months -- all THIS before 8th grade. We cannot go on this way. I will not do it to my child; I do not want it for other people's children. We must must must must make a change. And for those who are not horrified, just think of the housing and the community more widely. El Cerrito// Kensington will be undervalued until we have better schools. Period. We are a wonderful community poised near excellent transit and the water and excellent parks. We have great houses, a great recycling system, good bones access to beauty-- but this is hillarious in a way, because we STILL don't have what counts. We don't have good schools- and we NEED TO CHANGE THAT PRONTO. My son isn't school aged yet, but I love el cerrito and grew up here and came back here and want to stay here. It will be hard if we can't make the schools more excellent. I'm eager to help in any way i can.
Valerie Snider June 13, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Richard's point is a good one. I looked online at the district's most recent audit report and I could find nothing about the current parcel tax reporting. For example, parcel tax revenues are supposed to be segregated in a separate bank account. Are they? If so, why isn't that information in the audited financial statements? Sheri Gamba (finance director) was asked about parcel tax reporting and her reply was a terse "it's part of the school-wide audit report." Well, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to find information about the current parcel tax revenues and expenditures. The information is either nonexistent or buried somewhere. I'm not convinced the district is complying with the oversight requirements of the last parcel tax. I voted for Measure K despite not knowing for sure if the money would be spent as the ballot language said. But, I think voters deserve more transparency and accountability.
Marty June 13, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Regarding Cabbage's suggestion on Prop 13: A few years ago I suggested to friend that increases be pegged to the CPI, but any increases over the current 2% could be deferred with nominal interest (as a tax lien) until the property was transferred. That way, Granny wouldn't have to eat cat food, but here greedy kids would have to settle the tax bill. Well, my friend told this to a senior citizen neighbor of his, who became apoplectic with indignation at the very idea. Prop. 13 is here to stay, but the fact is my school district parcel taxes almost double the statutory limit on my taxes. Some reform on the commercial side seems reasonable, although business interests will fight that.
Steve June 13, 2012 at 08:29 PM
I'm not sure you read the ballot. The tax is not based on property values, it is based on square feet. So let's pick a couple cities, Pinole and El Cerrito (based on digging around on city-data, real-estate statistic sites, etc.) Estimated 2009 per-capita income: El Cerrito: $39k Pinole: $29k Average house price: El Cerrito: $445k Pinole: $381k More telling...Average $/sq-foot: El Cerrito: $334 Pinole: $179 At those prices/sq-foot a 1,500 sq-ft home would cost: El Cerrito: 500k Pinole: 269k So although the Pinole resident averages about 3/4 the income and lives in a still-declining-value house worth only a bit over half the value of the rebounding-value El Cerrito house, both would pay the same in Measure K taxes. And despite the fact that Pinole residents would be paying far more than El Cerrito residents both on a $/house-value basis and on a $/income basis, the majority of Pinole voters voted yes on K. It would be interesting to see how the votes would have come out if the tax had been based on assessed value.
Marty June 13, 2012 at 08:30 PM
With or without parachute?
Charles June 13, 2012 at 08:47 PM
You are wrong to say that EC/Kensington cannot join with Albany because they are in different counties. The California Education Code specifically contemplates school districts that cross county lines. See http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=edc&group=35001-36000&file=35520-35524
Ira Sharenow June 13, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I took a look at the 2008 parcel tax election, which had a far greater turnout that this election. It looks like all precincts voted by more than 2-1 in favor of the parcel tax. So maybe more thought should be given as to why WCCUSD has lost so much support among the citizenry. Maybe the leadership of WCCUSD needs to realize that people are not happy with the way things are going. I see that 71% of Hercules voters just backed a half-cent increase in the sales tax. Incidentally, the parcel tax in Albany is over $700 per “parcel”. http://www.cocovote.us/ERSummary.aspx?eid=4 http://www.cocovote.us/items.aspx?id=43 http://www.smartvoter.org/2012/06/05/ca/cc/meas/
Steve June 13, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I don't think any single factor caused the defeat of measure K but I suspect if voters read the measure carefully and examined the uses of the existing tax the margin of defeat would have been higher, not lower. Read for yourself. http://www.wccusd.net/cms/lib03/CA01001466/Centricity/domain/20/parcel%20tax/Parcel%20Tax%20Financials.pdf If you're a jock on the football or basketball team there's at least 800-grand for you. But money for PE in a district with an obesity problem? Nope. Money spent on enhancing "core subjects" including reading, writing, math and science (an alleged purpose of the measure)? 2008-9: Zero. 2009-10: Zip. 2010-11: Nada. 2011-12 budget: A continuation of the same blank line. But they do spend $500,000 to $800,000+ per year on janitors. K dedicated funds for helping kids "catch up." Money for AP classes or otherwise challenging students who excel? Not allowed. Not even anything to replace the GATE money the district already grabbed away from those kids. But it does dedicate money to "retaining qualified teachers..." so let's examine: Math teachers? No. English teachers? No. Science, art, music, foreign-language, PE, shop? No, no, no, no, no and no. That $3-4 million per year goes for counselors, psychologists and a few special-ed speech specialists. There are some bright-spots. Class-size reduction (K-3 only, though) and money for libraries but overall I find the priorities somewhat misguided.
Amy Kang June 13, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Tess, the best way to help is to send your child to your neighborhood school. There is a chicken-and-egg effect regarding schools in this area. When parents say "no way" to the local school, that school stays mediocre (or worse). When parents opt in and roll up their sleeves and get to work, mediocre schools get better--relatively quickly. Portola is a prime example.
Giorgio C. June 14, 2012 at 05:33 AM
Tonight I attended the WCCUSD board meeting and then it dawned on me. Yes, I have problems with Mr. Ramsey's comments directed at Hercules, but I have even bigger problems with our Superintendent's management of our district. I will attempt to submit an editorial to the Patch. I am very concerned by how our district staff are managing our schools. Their approach is reactive, not proactive. Our district staff are not doing enough to ensure that our schools are performing at an acceptable level on a daily basis. In this district, a school can have serious quality problems for years before it is addressed. I do not blame the board for this because they are not the school management experts. The Superintendent is the qualified expert. It is time to review his performance.
Ira Sharenow June 14, 2012 at 05:43 PM
The process to form a new school district from the El Cerrito/Kensington area is a little different that the process to transfer the El Cerrito/Kensington area to the Albany USD. The following general description of the two processes outlines those differences. To form a new district: · The process is initiated by a voter petition (signed by at least 25% of the voters residing in the El Cerrito/Kensington area or by resolution of the governing board of the West Contra Costa USD. · The petition (or resolution) is presented to the Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools who will determine the sufficiency of the request (within 30 days). · The petition is transmitted to the Contra Costa County Committee on School District Organization, which will hold a public hearing(s) on the proposal within 60 days. · After the public hearings, the County Committee has 120 days to study the proposal and make a recommendation to approve or disapprove, which it then must transmit to the California State Board of Education (SBE). · The SBE will review the proposal and decide to approve or disapprove. Disapproval kills the proposal. · If the SBE approves the proposal, it determines the area that will vote on the proposal and notifies the County Superintendent to call an election in that area. · If the electorate approves the proposal, the new district becomes effective on July 1 of the subsequent year.
Ira Sharenow June 14, 2012 at 05:45 PM
To transfer the area to Albany USD: · The process is initiated by a voter petition (signed by at least 25% of the voters residing in the El Cerrito/Kensington area) or by resolution of the governing boards of the West Contra Costa USD and the Albany USD. · The voter petition is presented to the Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools who will determine the sufficiency of the request within 30 days (governing board resolutions would be presented to the respective county superintendent of school with jurisdiction over the respective district). · The voter petition is transmitted to the Contra Costa County Committee on School District Organization, which will hold a public hearing(s) on the proposal within 60 days (governing board resolutions would be transmitted to each affected county committee on school district organization—the county committees which each hold public hearings in the areas for which they have jurisdiction [or they could hold joint public hearings]). · After the public hearings, the County Committees have 120 days to study the proposal and approve or disapprove the transfer. · If either of the county committees disapprove the transfer, the petitioners (or either district) may appeal the decision to the SBE (who will then decide to affirm or reverse the county committees’ actions).
Ira Sharenow June 14, 2012 at 05:46 PM
· If both county committees approve the transfer, the petitioners (or either district) may appeal the decision to the SBE (who will then decide to affirm or reverse the county committees’ actions). · If both county committees approve the transfer, no appeal is filed, and the El Cerrito/Kensington area is less than 10% of the assessed valuation of the West Contra Costa USD, the transfer will be effective on July 1 of the subsequent year. If the El Cerrito/Kensington area is more than 10% of the assessed valuation of the West Contra Costa USD, the county committees will establish the area to vote on the proposal and direct the respective county superintendent(s) to call an election in that area. · If the electorate approves the proposal, the new district becomes effective on July 1 of the subsequent year. The above are general descriptions of the most typical activities involved…there are variations on most aspects of the process.
Ira Sharenow June 14, 2012 at 05:48 PM
There is a Handbook on School District Organization available that explains the process in more detail and provides more background information. That Handbook is at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/do/. Additionally, I strongly recommend that you contact the Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools for any local requirements that you will need to follow throughout the process. Let me know if you have other questions. **************************************** Larry Shirey Charter Apportionments and District Reorganization California Department of Education 1430 N Street, Suite 3800 Sacramento, CA 95814 phone: 916-322-1468 fax: 916-324-4544 LShirey@cde.ca.gov http://www.cde.ca.gov/

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