Schools - February 3, 2010

Portola Valley schools look to new $168 parcel tax

by Andrea Gemmet

Voters may be asked to help fill an estimated $500,000 gap in the Portola Valley School District's budget. A public hearing on placing a four-year, $168 annual parcel tax on a May 4 mail-in ballot is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, in Room 1001 at Corte Madera School, 4575 Alpine Road.

At the meeting, the school board is expected to vote to approve putting the parcel tax on the ballot, in order to meet the Feb. 5 election-filing deadline, said Superintendent Anne Campbell.

The parcel tax won't fill the entire budget gap, but will be used to maintain core academic programs such as reading, science and math, as well as to keep class sizes relatively low, Ms. Campbell told The Almanac. The district is expecting another round of cuts in state funding amounting to about $300 per student in the coming school year, she said.

"This is a short-term bridge to better times," she said.

The parcel tax would not be used for administrative expenses, and would have an exemption for senior citizens, Ms. Campbell said. Property owners in the district currently pay a $290 annual parcel tax that passed in 2004 and lasts for 10 years.

The district hired pollsters Godbe Research to survey the community on potential support for the parcel tax, and the results were heartening.

"People are very supportive of their local schools, and that's very neat to see," said Ms. Campbell. "It's one of the things that makes Portola Valley great."


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