Even as state lawmakers debate making it easier to for school districts to pass parcel taxes, a new report finds that lowering the passing threshold to 55 percent of the vote would not expand the use of parcel taxes to poorer communities.
The Public Policy Institute of California looked at 17 years of parcel tax data from across California and found that a 55 percent passing threshold would have boosted the success rate for all parcel tax elections from 59 percent to 89 percent. However, the elections garnering at least 55 percent approval were mostly in wealthy and white communities.
"It is hard to say that lowering the vote threshold for parcel tax passage would expand their reach into new areas of the state or to more disadvantaged students,” said Eric McGhee, one of the report’s authors. "This change would likely make it easier for more of the same kind of districts to pass parcel taxes and for districts that already have them to pass more.”
Union City schools would have benefited from a lower passing threshold. School parcel taxes were narrowly defeated in 2011 and 2012.
In 2011, Measure B -- a four-year $180 per parcel tax to maintain extra- and co-curricular programs -- was defeated with 66.43 percent of voters in favor of the tax. The New Haven Unified School District regrouped the following year with Measure H, a similar four-year $180 per parcel tax aimed at preserving core classes. It, too, failed to pass with 62.94 percent of voters in favor of the tax.
See which East Bay school districts receive the most money per student from parcel taxes in the chart above.