The New Haven Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to place a parcel tax measure on the June primary ballot.
“We definitely need it in this district with the uncertainty of what’s happening in Sacramento and the cuts we’re taking,” said school board trustee Jonas Dino.
“We’ve been cutting and cutting budget-wise,” trustee Michael Ritchie added. “The budget forecast is even worse.”
The parcel tax — $180 per parcel — will generate $3 million a year for the four-year duration of the tax. It requires a two-thirds majority vote and includes exemptions for disabled residents and senior citizens. The funds will not be used for administrator salaries’ and calls for an oversight committee to be established.
According to Akur Varadarajan, the district’s chief business officer, the district has lost nearly $16 million in funding since 2008. More than $6 million was cut from the 2011-12 budget alone.
The passing of the tax measure will alleviate some of the district's budget woes. However, the district is also dependent on voters approving Gov. Jerry Brown’s November tax initiative.
If neither tax measures pass, the district could lose up to $10.7 million in the 2012-13 school year, Varadarajan said.
“Even if the [state] measure passes, education funding will be cut. If it fails, education funding will be cut deeper,” Varadarjan wrote in a staff report.
“If there are any hopeful signs, it would be the passage of our school district parcel tax measure and the Governor’s tax measure,” he added.
With the exception of some of the ballot language, this year’s tax measure is almost identical to last year’s Measure B, which was 82 votes short of passing.
Last year’s measure was aimed to preserve class sizes and afterschool activities. Its failure combined with a state funding shortfall resulted in additional furlough days, increased class sizes in K-3 classrooms, teachers being laid off and reductions to support services such as counseling, transportation and maintenance.
Co-curricular programs were also reduced by $100,000 but fundraising by the New Haven Schools Foundation and New Haven Boosters Association later made up for the loss, officials said.
If this year’s measure doesn’t pass, the outcome could be detrimental, officials said.
Among the possible impacts are:
- nine budget reduction days for the 2012‐13 school year, estimated to save $3 million
- increasing K‐2 class sizes to 30-to-1, estimated to save $1.1 million
- eliminating the Community Day School, which will result in the layoff of two FTE teaching positions, estimated to save $100,000
- eliminating media specialists and library media technicians (four FTE positions), which will save $300,000
- eliminating stipends for co‐curricular and athletics programs, estimated at $200,000
- reducing elementary specialists (21 FTE positions), saving $1.6 million
- reducing middle school electives positions (12 FTE positions), saving about $900,000
Board members pleaded the community to not allow the district tax measure to fail again.
“Make sure that you go there to vote because every single one of those ‘yes’ votes counts,” board member Linda Canlas said. “You will make a difference.”
Superintendent Kari McVeigh also encouraged every employee to volunteer for the campaign and for every parent to vote.
“This is about preserving a school system that has a lot to offer, that has taken this community to great heights and can only continue to do so if the community supports it,” McVeigh said.