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The election to decide whether to increase the parcel tax in the Las Lomitas Elementary School District starts officially on Monday, Feb. 5, when permanent absentee voters can either mail their ballots or drop them off at selected locations in the district.
If a two-thirds majority of voters approve Measure P, the current annual tax of $196 would rise to $311 -- a $115 increase -- for homes and businesses in the district, which includes western Menlo Park, Ladera and parts of Atherton. The election is Tuesday, March 6.
Absentee ballots may be dropped off during business hours at Menlo Park City Hall, Atherton Town Hall, the main elections office at 40 Tower Road in San Mateo, or the satellite elections office on the first floor at 555 County Center in Redwood City.
There are 7,707 eligible voters living in the district, said county elections officer Warren Slocum. Any homeowner 65 or older whose home is in the district and is the owner's principal residence may apply for an exemption to the tax.
The Las Lomitas school board initially recommended an increase of about $200, but a survey of the community revealed that any increase above $98 a year would not win a two-thirds majority. Trustees said they decided to ask for a $115 increase after "very careful" analysis of the survey data.
The district needs the money, according to a resolution passed unanimously by the trustees in December, to maintain "the highest possible quality of education" and provide "the best qualified staff available" in a state in which education funding is described as "precarious."
Among the more specific priorities, the money would help to maintain the district's elective offerings such as foreign languages, music and art, and the science, math and technology classes.
To read the ballot measure or for more information, go to shapethefuture.org.
Read the ballot text, impartial analysis and arguments in favor of the measure (no arguments were filed in opposition) here: http://shapethefuture.org/elections/mar2007/documents/MeasureP_English.pdf