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School Board Eyes New Ballot Measure – Special Meeting Monday

Following the narrow defeat of the Measure K parcel tax for schools on June 5, the West Contra Costa school board will hold a special meeting Monday in El Cerrito on whether to survey public opinion on a new measure in November.

Facing an anticipated budget shortfall and a deadline for getting measures on the November ballot, the school board of the West Contra Costa Unified School District is considering whether to return to voters with another revenue measure.

The board has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. Monday at Harding Elementary School in El Cerrito to decide whether to conduct a public opinion survey for another potential parcel tax or a bond measure or both.

The move follows the parcel tax for schools in the June 5 primary election. The measure needed two-thirds of the votes to win and fell short with 65.52 percent, according to final returns from the Contra Costa County Elections Division.

"The Board has had to consider the impact of the loss of parcel tax funds on top of the devastating impact of the loss of $40 million in revenue over the last three years and the potential loss of another $12-13 million if the state tax measures (proposed by Gov. Brown on the November ballot) are not successful," says the agenda for the Monday board meeting. (The agenda is attached to this article.)

The meeting was proposed by board President Charles Ramsey.

Measure K won more than two-thirds in El Cerrito, Kensington and Richmond, and less than two-thirds in El Sobrante, Hercules, Pinole and San Pablo, according to a Patch tabulation of the final returns. A table below shows the exact totals and percent approval for each community.

The measure was intended in part to preserve smaller class sizes in the lowest three grades, K-2. Following its defeat, the school board this past Wednesday approved an increase in class size for those three grades as part of the fiscal 2012-13 budget. (For details, please see a separate Patch article published today on the board vote.)

Measure K would have raised an estimated $4 million a year by increasing the current parcel tax of 7.2 cents per square foot of building area to 10.2 cents. It would also have extended the tax for an additional three years past its current expiration date of June 30, 2014.

The current tax was first adopted by voters in 2004 and renewed with 79-percent voter approval in 2008. 

A parcel tax measure for West Contra Costa schools on the November 2010 ballot lost, receiving 59.36 percent approval. It needed two-thirds.

The board is also considering whether to place a bond measure on the ballot in November to upgrade seven schools that were not included in the previous bond measure passed in 2010. 

The list of schools that would be upgraded, along with more details about the proposed parcel tax and bond measures, can be found on the attached agenda for the meeting.

The deadline for placing measures on the November ballot is Aug. 10.

Final results of Measure K

These community totals and percent approval rates were tabulated by Patch from precinct-by-precinct totals listed in the elections results reports on the county's Elections Division Web site.

Yes No Total % Yes Kensington 1755 382 2137 82.12 El Cerrito 4764 1804 6568 72.53 Richmond 8828 4345 13173 67.02 San Pablo 1431 753 2184 65.52 El Sobrante 1304 1006 2310 56.45 Hercules 2001 1632 3633 55.08 Pinole 2013 1674 3687 54.60 All voters 23928 12594 36522 65.52

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.

RJ July 02, 2012 at 04:02 AM
The response by TT to my posting hints at my view as elitist. My family's ability to afford an independent school education for our children has little to do with wealth or luck. It has everything to do with sacrifice and hard work. It began with my parents' desire that I have a greater opportunity than they were afforded. Yes, I have seen a dream and I strive to realize it each day. As a racial minority, I have risen above the obstacles of prejudice, economic disadvantage and lack of emotional support. Mine is not a view ignorant of the struggle. I am clear on the demands required to succeed. Your prior reflection on the flight of good families points to the breakdown in WCCUSD that I refuse to support. Just this past May I witnessed two Kensington neighbors move to Orinda and Piedmont to seek relief.
RJ July 02, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Lastly, I would state that I find my family far from isolated on an island nor mislead by the arguments of uniformed fools as reader, CC, infers In their post of Mr. Heinlein' quotation. Within my community I am working diligently with families from Richmond, South Berkeley and Hercules to provide a rich learning enivironment for all of our children. Two of these families is of Mexican ancestry and the third biracial. Each family works hard every day to give their children the step up they think they deserve. This is not about avoiding taxes. It is about making choices that are meaningful to each family. Rarely have I seen a problem solved by throwing money at it.
Amy deHart July 03, 2012 at 05:39 AM
I attended the meeting tonight, and found the comments and conduct of board President Charles Ramsey absolutely appalling. After instructing another board member to motion for the vote, waiting for it to be seconded, he then starts his rambling and confusing monologue, basically (I think???) saying this time around us demanding parents better get out our thick Sharpies and poster board, because he's not going to be leading the charge of a campaign, since this isn't HIS idea of the right way to proceed. What is? I still have no idea.
Giorgio C. July 03, 2012 at 05:50 AM
Mr. Ramsey thumbed his nose at the educational process that we are all part of. We attended to learn and to communicate. At some point, he decided we were not worth his time. He was acting like a child who did not have their way. There was too much emphasis on the "I."
TT July 03, 2012 at 03:37 PM
His behavior was appalling. I was horrified and totally depressed. RJ: So, as well as being talented, you've been lucky. You haven't been hit by a car or fired at a strange moment or have had any thing out of your control happen to you. This doesn't make you elitest, it makes you lucky. But the public sector exists because we don't penalize our kids for how lucky (or even talented) their parents are. We try to give each group of kids a new shot. The fact that our district is failing our kids does not mean that public education is a doomed. It means that we need to try harder to get what we need for all of our kids. I'll grant to everyone though that yesterday's performance by Ramsay was atrocious.

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