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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
San Mateo County, CA June 3, 2008 Election
Measure N
Parcel Tax Measure
Pacifica School District

Parcel Tax - 2/3 Majority Approval Required

Pass: 5,688 / 66.7% Yes votes ...... 2,844 / 33.3% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Jul 31 1:37pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (33/33)
28.9% Voter Turnout (104,160/360,018)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

To protect local elementary and middle schools from state budget cuts, maintain high quality education, preserve small class sizes, attract and retain qualified teachers, protect vital academic programs and maintain classroom and school facilities, shall the Pacifica School District levy a temporary parcel tax of $96/year for 5 years with independent citizen oversight, an exemption for senior citizens, no funds used for administrator salaries and all funds staying in this community to promote student achievement?

Impartial Analysis
The California Constitution and state law authorize a school district, upon approval of two-thirds of the voting electorate, to levy a qualified special tax for specified purposes. By this measure, the Board of Trustees of the Pacifica School District proposes to levy a special tax for a period of five years beginning July 1, 2008 and ending June 30, 2013. This tax shall be at a rate not to exceed $96 per year per parcel on all taxable parcels in the District.

A parcel shall be defined as any unit of real property in the District which receives a separate tax bill for ad valorem property taxes from the San Mateo County tax collection officials. Any property owner aged 65 years or older may qualify for an exemption from the special tax if that property owner occupies the parcel. All property which would otherwise be exempt from property taxes will also be exempt from the imposition of the tax.

The stated purposes of the special tax are to: maintain class sizes; protect academic programs; attract and retain teachers; maintain classrooms and school facilities; and continue improvements in student achievement.

The proceeds of the special tax will be placed into a special account. An independent citizens' oversight committee will be established to monitor the expenditures of the parcel tax revenues. An annual report is required that accounts for the parcel tax revenues collected and the manner in which they have been spent.

A "yes" vote on this measure would allow a special tax to be levied on property within the boundaries of the Pacifica School District for a period of five years beginning July 1, 2008 and ending June 30, 2013 in an amount up to $96 per year per taxable parcel. The special tax would be used to: maintain class sizes; protect academic programs; attract and retain teachers; maintain classrooms and school facilities; and continue improvements in student achievement.

A "no" vote on this measure would not allow the special tax to be levied.

This measure passes if two-thirds of those voting on the measure vote "yes."

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Arguments For Measure N Arguments Against Measure N
Our local elementary and middle schools are an important part of what makes Pacifica such a great place to live, helping to support high property values.

Pacifica schools are among the highest-performing in the state, and students achieve high test scores on statewide exams. Dedicated teachers help give our kids this great education. But state budget cuts are threatening our schools more than ever. Pacifica schools are facing budget cuts totaling over $1 million to educational programs. We are in danger of losing some of our best teachers. Pacifica School District can't rely on state funding alone to provide high-quality education for local students.

There is only one way to keep our schools strong -- local support. That is why your Yes vote on Measure N is so important. Measure N provides stable, guaranteed, locally controlled and audited funding, which the state can't take.

Voting Yes on N will protect Pacifica schools by:

  • Retaining and attracting qualified teachers
  • Maintaining science and mathematics programs
  • Protecting small class sizes
  • Protecting programs that support struggling and gifted students
  • Maintaining classroom and school facilities Measure N also protects taxpayers:
  • Measure N is local funding that will be spent here in Pacifica schools to help students succeed
  • The state can't take a single penny of Measure N
  • Measure N funds cannot be spent on administrator salaries
  • An independent citizen oversight committee will review and audit spending to ensure Measure N funds are spent wisely in Pacifica schools
  • Measure N provides an exemption for senior citizens

We can't rely on state funding to adequately support the great education that Pacifica students deserve. For only $8 per month, Measure N will protect our local schools and help students continue to achieve.

Support local students and our community -- please join us in voting Yes on Measure N.

/s/ Debbie Skiles,President of Teachers Union for Pacifica School District

/s/ Eric Ruchames, Retired Police Sergeant

/s/ Suzan Getchell-Wallace, Realtor

/s/ Allan Hale, Senior Citizen

/s/ Doreen Cummins-Murphy, Pacifica school parent

Rebuttal to Arguments For
  • Proponents threaten to fire "some of our best teachers" if you don't vote for higher taxes. Nonsense! That's childish posturing, like most of their argument.

  • If the oft-predicted budget cuts actually materialized for once, obviously they would drop the worst performing employees. Unions object to cutting deadweight, but it's ultimately healthy.

  • Small class sizes are not at risk. According to Ed-Data*, the District had 151 teachers, 37 paraprofessionals, and 13 pupil services employees on staff, to operate approximately 122 classrooms.

  • Politicians threaten cuts to scare voters, but 1988's Proposition 98 guarantees schools at least 40% of the state budget, and typically they get more.

  • Even a $400 million cut would represent less than 1% of state education spending--not exactly drastic.

  • Moreover, property tax assessments automatically increase each year by 2%, and typically jump higher, when properties change hands. Property taxes in the District doubled in the past decade, and school revenue per student shared in the bounty, increasing by 98% in just 11 years.

  • High-scoring students come from good families, not lavish school budgets. Local student test scores pretty much proved that! Tax hikes don't increase property values.

  • Less than 20% of California school districts have parcel taxes.

  • The state can--and often does--reduce the amount of aid it gives to districts that raise more money locally.


/s/ Christopher VA Schmidt Secretary, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ Kennita L Watson Retired Quality Engineer

/s/ Harland Harrison Software Engineer

/s/ Kevin D Peterson Software Engineer

Our schools are well funded.

Last year, District revenue increased for the fourth year in a row, to a record $23.5 million--up 21% in just 4 years! Check the facts yourself at this California Department of Education web site:

Divide revenue by 3021 students (ADA), and you get $193,000 per classroom of 24.9 students. Of that amount, $72,000 was used to pay the teacher's salary and benefits. That left $121,000 per class for other spending, and the Board chose to spend most of it on ancillary staff: The District had approximately 122 classrooms, and employed 291 people, including 30 clerical workers and 10 administrators. That's a lot of ancillary staff for a district with only 7 schools!

Meanwhile, many residents have real budget problems. Hitting them with a $480 parcel tax (even stretched over 5 years) will have a painful impact on some residents, when added to their other expenses. Paying this tax could mean missing a critical mortgage payment, or a health insurance premium, or drowning in credit card debt. People who carry the balance on their credit cards could owe more than $2,000 (with interest) in just 10 years.

Vote `no'. The District has plenty of money, and some taxpayers don't have $480 to spare.

/s/ Christopher VA Schmidt Secretary, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ John J. Hickey Healthcare District Director

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Authors of the argument against Measure N don't even live in Pacifica.

They're using stock arguments from other places, without regard for Pacifica schools. That's why they're misrepresenting facts.

The fact is, Pacifica schools boast one of the leanest administrative budgets in the county. Pacifica's schools emphasize great teachers, a strong foundation in basic education and high student achievement.

Unfortunately, state budget cuts threaten this success. We need Measure N to protect it.

Pick up any newspaper, and you'll read about the worst education cuts in more than a decade. State government is slashing over $1 million from Pacifica elementary and middle schools. Our schools face cuts to key academic programs, and we could lose some of our best teachers if Measure N doesn't pass.

Measure N is vital for our community and neighborhood schools. It will help retain teachers, maintain academic programs like science and math, and protect small class sizes.

For only $8 per month -- with senior citizens exempted to ease the burden on those with fixed incomes -- Measure N will keep our schools strong and provide stable, guaranteed funding that can't be cut by the state. Measure N can't be used for administrator salaries + it provides support where needed most: in Pacifica classrooms. Great schools benefit all of us by supporting a safe community and strong property values.

We can't count on state government to take care of Pacifica's students.

Help our kids and teachers continue to achieve--Vote Yes on Measure N.

/s/ Mildred Owen Thompson Artistic Director Pacifica Performance

/s/ Don Beck Retired Teacher

/s/ Bill Feyling Carpenters Union Representative

/s/ Ginny Silva Jaquith 43 Year Resident

/s/ Carolyn L Lee Local Business Owner

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Created: July 31, 2008 13:37 PDT
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