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School Board Approves Parcel Tax for May Special Election

The election will be the second in two years after Measure B’s slight failure six months ago.

Residents in the New Haven Unified School District will again be asked to support local schools in a special election next May.

The New Haven Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to place a parcel tax on a May mail-in ballot — .

The move will cost the district $200,000. Though it would be significantly cheaper to hold a November election, district officials said a win in May would allow the funds to be used in the 2012-2013 school year. It would be wiser to hold the election in May, they said.

The local tax measure may be overshadowed by the presidential election in November, officials said.

“The cost does matter, but more important than the cost is winning. It doesn’t do any good to spend any of it if we’re not going to win,” said board member Kevin Harper. “It seems like May is the right time. You can influence people if you have their attention."

While Tuesday’s vote was unanimous, board president Michelle Matthews said she was initially on the fence about the tax.

“I’m not a gambler,” Matthews said. “I’m okay with May, simply because the wound is open and we’re feeling the pain.”

The school district was forced to make across its schools during the 2011-2012 school year. Those reductions came on top of about $10 million in cuts made over the past three years.

Due to the cuts, a number of teaching positions were vacated, library hours were reduced and class sizes were increased in k-3 classrooms. Afterschool programs were also at risk.

Measure B, which was placed on a special mail-in ballot this May, aimed to lessen the impact of the cuts but . The measure would have taxed property owners $180 a year for four years and raised approximately $3 million a year specifically to pay for afterschool programs, preserve instructional time and minimize class size increases.

The school board also voted 4 to 1 Tuesday to conduct a survey to determine if the campaign is addressing the voters’ concerns and how much they would be willing to pay. The survey is expected to cost between $14,000 to $16,000.

Though a larger survey was conducted in 2009 and parents were polled in 2010, officials said they didn’t want to risk losing again.

“I don’t want to win by one percentage point, I want to knock this out of the park,” said school board trustee Jonas Dino.

Tim November 03, 2011 at 02:32 AM
Yea May is the right time to sneak this crap through when no one is looking. They know full well they will lose in November when people are paying attention which is why they are willing to piss away another 200,000 dollars on another special stealth mail in election. To the school board member and trustee that think it's ok to raid the pockets of local homeowners again think again. You lost last time when no one was paying attention. This time we are and there will be an argument against in the election mailings this time and we will fight back and expose the unfairness of this measure as well as your wasteful use of our money in choosing another sneaky stealth election over the June primary and November general. You're going down yet again!

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