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Parcel tax for Redwood City schools fails

Original post made on Jun 4, 2009

Measure E, a parcel tax to support the Redwood City School District, failed to win the necessary two-thirds vote it needed to pass in the special June 2 election. About one-third of Atherton households are in the Redwood City district, which includes Selby Lane School in Atherton.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 3, 2009, 9:09 PM

Comments (16)

Posted by rich, a resident of Woodside High School
on Jun 4, 2009 at 8:48 am

Can someone please tell me why Redwood City would be paying for schools located in Atherton? Atherton is one of the most wealthy cities in the USA and should be able to easily support it's own schools. Why would people in Redwood City vote to increase their taxes to support schools in Atherton?


Posted by dave, a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2009 at 10:09 am

glad this crooked election lost. to have a vote by mail election like this is dishonest. most folks didnt know it was happening.

typical school board dishonsety to try to force this vote in an off election time. seeing as all teh school kids would be sent home to tell there parents to vote yes, where as most voters with no school kids did not learn of this election.

the school district does this, too ensure low turn out, so their union teachers and kids can gin up support for this spending in a small select group that will likely vote yes.

very dishonest. very much dienfrachises folks, cause they are not aware of this off timing election.

the part that threw a bone to seniors is realy bad, yes seniors would be exempt of the tax. the voter pamplete claims that becuase they are on a fixed income they can opt out of paying (yet they are free to vote that tax burden on others)

tell me how many of you are not on a fixed income, can you increase your income on a whim to meet new taxs???

what about disabled folks, folks out of work??? only seniors get teh exemption is bull. that alone is enough to strike this vote down.

now the teachers tell us that classes will be cut, oh my, my heart bleeds.
the local schols here have new lawns, new gymnasiums (yet still have trailer classrooms) I suggest teh school has a priority problem. no new money for schools that can afford expensive sports facilities, then cry that they cant afford teachers or books. get your priorities straight, teach the kids, we should not have to pay for fancy gymnasiuims. when we were kids, we played out side, no fancy gyms, we had money for books, and learned.

no wonder the schools have dismal perfromance, they waste all the money on sprts gyms, grass, and have a fat administration staff.

voters told them to make do with the money they have. the endless taxation of people must end. we are all have fixed income, and school gyms and grass fields are not a priority for most taxpayers


thanks to all that voted NO...


Posted by bob, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 4, 2009 at 10:10 am

Because many Redwood City residents attend school in Atherton.


Posted by Linda, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 4, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Rich: There isn't a single school district serving Atherton residents. Depending on what part of town you live in, you could be part of the Redwood City, Las Lomitas or Menlo Park school districts.


Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 4, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Can't say I'm surprised. People have NO EXTRA MONEY any more. Plus, there are just too many horror stories of overpaid bureaucrats and firefighters on $100K plus pensions.

The likelihood is that this money would have been siphoned off into some political or union pockets rather than being spent wisely on our kids.


Posted by rodents, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 4, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Doesn't it scare anyone that it managed to muster up 62% of the vote? It almost passed!


Posted by Mrs. Lovejoy, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 5, 2009 at 10:20 am

Yes, what a relief. Now the poor kids in the underfunded school district next-door will be getting an even worse education. Hooray.


Posted by Roger, a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2009 at 7:42 am

Dave,

You are way off base. Let me correct a few facts for you. The election was open and NOT write-in only. I and many other voters voted in our regular polling places on election day (a day set by the county election officials - not the school board). All the standard mailers went out to the voters just like any other election. So, unless you want to argue that people can't read (in which case you argument for less education is pretty weak) I'd find it difficult to call this as a secret election.

Second, I think you are confusing the different schools districts in the area. This parcel tax was for the elementary schools. The high schools are funded completely separately. They may have a gym or whatever else offends you. Perhaps you are thinking of that. I don't know. There are 17 elementary schools in the RWC School District. They are funded separately - and they don't have any organized sports program that I'm aware of at all much less a pile of new gyms. Even if it were true (which it isn't), school districts use bonds (not taxes) for things like buildings, but they can't use that money for paying teachers. It is the way that accounting works. Bonds pass with a 55% yes vote, while parcel taxes require 66.7%. That means its easier to get money for buildings than teachers. I'm sure the schools would be just as happy if it were the other way around.

As for seniors and fixed income, I think you are confused. A fixed income is one that has no chance of increasing over time. While you cant exactly ask your boss for $91 to pay the parcel tax, there is a pretty good chance that most of the Redwood City voters will get some sort of raise in the next five years... Seniors wont. I don't quite understand why you are upset about that exception.

As for salaries, it is public record that the top person in the district makes ~$165K to supervise ~8200 kids and ~1000 employees and an ~$84M budget. Find me anyone else in the bay area willing to take on that responsibility for that kind of money. Salaries are not the problem.

San Carlos ($78/yr), Woodside ($242/yr), Belmont ($78/yr), Bayshore ($96/yr), Los Gatos $(290/yr), Mountain View ($127-$1016/yr) and Cupertino ($125/yr) all passed similar measures in the last year. Other districts have adopted permanent parcel taxes or voted on these measures in previous years. This is not out of the ordinary. Redwood City has tried and failed three times now in the past 17 years to get a parcel tax like the neighboring communities have.

Now in the RWC School district, classrooms that this year hold 20 students will next year have to hold 28 students. ALL the Physical Education teachers are being laid off in the middle of an obesity epidemic. I know some people wont ever believe that there really is a crisis, but there is... and its hurting all our home values. A lot of parents are frustrated to the point of wanting to move out of the state. That will drive prices further down. The US is falling behind the rest of the world in education and California is falling behind the US (California is now on the bottom for per pupil funding)... now Redwood City is falling behind California... you figure it out.

There is a significant problem here and it money is required to fix it. I cant see how the failure of your neighbors to the north can be anything you should feel good about. These kids will eventually get jobs in your community. Ultimately it will affect you too.



Posted by Palo Alto guy, a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Roger - Palo Alto is using a parcel tax to fund construction, not teacher salaries. Perhaps the difference here is that the Palo Alto parcel tax has a time limit - don't know about the Redwood City tax. But just wanted to point out to you that parcel taxes can/are being used for construction; counter to what you described above.


Posted by Penny, a resident of Oak Knoll School
on Jun 8, 2009 at 5:00 pm

I think the point is that school construction bonds cannot be used for anything other than school construction, and that they can be passed by a smaller super-majority of voters.

So while it's possible to fund construction with parcel tax revenues, because you need 2/3rds of the vote rather than 55% most districts will go for the lower threshhold needed for construction bonds.

I think a lot of people are confused by this, judging from the number of complaints: "Why don't you use the money from your a fancy new gym/athletic field/classroom/theater/etc. to hire more teachers?"


Posted by Tom, a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Palo Alto Guy-The Palo Alto Parcel Tax is not funding any construction. The parcel tax goes for funding teacher salaries and programs. The construction money comes from Measure A, which was passed last year.

It is sad that Redwood City was unable to pass this latest parcel tax. I grew up and currently live in Redwood City and work for the Palo Alto Unified School District. A few years ago the citizens of Palo Alto passed a parcel tax that was five times what Redwood City was asking for. Sadly, you get what you pay for and there are too many people in Redwood City who are not supporting the schools.

Dave-Don't get started on fat salaries for teachers and administrators in Redwood City. They are some of the lowest paid in relation to neighboring communities.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 11, 2009 at 9:00 pm

To their credit, the Redwood City School District is responding to the voice of the voters. A major step being taken is increasing class size which will make 51 classrooms surplus. One would expect the revenue produced by leasing the classrooms to compatible use occupants such as day care providers, private tutoring operators, etc. will further help solve the District's budget problem. Teachers who are victims of a layoff should consider setting up tutoring or daycare operations.
Another measure being taken by the District is a cut in adminstrators pay by 5 days. Don't know if that's 5 working days without pay or 5 unpaid days off. There's a big difference! A salary cut of 10% would be perfectly clear.

To their debit, the District spent >$140,000 on campaign strategists Tramutola(chosen for their near perfect record in getting parcel taxes passed) and Godbe. Then, an almost seamless transfer of the duos expertise was picked up by the YES on E committee. Head honcho, RCSD Boardmember Dennis McBride, ponied up at least another $40,000 for Tramutola's services. In the process, Dennis managed to embroil some otherwise education friendly groups in his massive campaign which raised $20 for every yes vote received. The damage to education benefactors, including the Redwood City Education Foundation, Peninsula Covenent Church and several Parent Groups who normally support the schools in more traditional ways has yet to be measured.
The least Mr. McBride could do to right the wrong is reimburse the District for the campaign contract with Tramutola, and the benefactors contributions. And, promise never to do it again.


Posted by Mrs. Lovejoy, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 15, 2009 at 1:59 pm

But what about the children? Will no one think of the children?


Posted by Penny Weis, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 16, 2009 at 11:21 am

In the last round of education cuts by the state, basic aid districts like Las Lomitas and Woodside kept quiet in the hopes that the state would forget they exist. It largely worked. Legislators basically said that the drop in property tax revenues was enough of a hit to basic aid districts. Everyone knows that's not going to be the case this time.

Since basic aid districts don't get per-pupil funding, the way revenue limit districts like Redwood City do, what they stand to lose is categorical funding -- money for specific things like special education.

The end result is that all of our kids in public schools are going to suffer. Parcel taxes are a much more stable source of funding, and one that the state can't raid.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 19, 2009 at 10:28 pm

When you or I can't pay our bills, we get to sell our assets before the bank comes and takes them away. This may include our home. It doesn't matter if the real estate market is up or down or if we want to sell or not. The State of California has gotten itself into a 24 billion dollar debt. California covers 155,973 square miles of land area making it the third largest of the fifty states. About half of this land is owned by the state as beaches, schools, warehouses, watershed, open space, nature preserves and some is owned as 278 state parks, covering 1,500,000 acres. Of course, the state doesn't want to sell any of its property and even buys more every year though it is unable to take care of it all. Some people have maintained that the sale of even a really small part of this unused property would not give the state money quickly enough to do any good. If your home is in foreclosure, try this argument with the bank! They will have a solution for you.The State of California should bite its lip and do the right thing, pay its bills and stay out of trouble in the future. This will be a good lesson to all of us.



Posted by Bob Becktel, a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jul 3, 2009 at 11:22 pm

I worked 20 years for the Redwood City School District. Thank God the parcel tax failed! The waste is rampant. The district honchos are overpaid and spend their time running off good teachers they deem as "too expensive." The politics are disgusting. I doubt the school board is aware of the culture of destruction that goes on down on Bradford Avenue. While the incompetents have the power, nothing will improve in that district. The school board REALLY needs to see what is going on with personnel. I for one will work overtime to defeat any future money under the current "leadership."


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