Voters should adopt parcel tax measure

March 1, 2011 — by Falcon Editorial Staff

Schools are the foundations of communities. Towns unite around their school’s football team, service-driven students give back to their communities, and high performing schools attract the best and brightest to the community.

So it is only in the community’s best interest to help a district like the Los Gatos-Saratoga Unified High School District when it is struggling financially. Financial woes have been brought on by California’s budget crisis, which has caused state categorical funding to dry up, and a historic drop in property taxes, the primary revenue source of the district. To maintain the educational quality of our schools, Saratoga citizens should unite to ensure the passage of the parcel tax which will appear on a special ballot in May of this year.

If the parcel tax fails to pass, the district will be forced to make $942,000 of cuts to balance the budget for the 2011-2012 school year. This deficit will only widen in future years. Currently, the district has been able to avoid major cuts that affect the classroom, but those options are running out. As all the fat is trimmed from the budget, future cuts become more and more painful.

Proposed cuts for the 2011-2012 year include increasing freshman Algebra and English classes from 24 to 26, reducing athletic sections and eliminating classified employees. After exhausting all the possible options of savings through increased efficiency and restructuring, future cuts will inevitably target the classroom and end up affecting the educational quality of our school.

The proposed six-year parcel tax is minimal, a mere $49 tacked on to property taxes, not an inordinate expense for most Saratoga families. The parcel tax would provide $800,000 for the district annually, money that would prevent cuts to the classroom. In addition, the parcel tax includes a senior exemption reducing the impact on elderly citizens. Despite this, support for the parcel tax is still only marginally above the required two-thirds majority, according to a poll conducted by the district in early December.

For years, the LGSUHSD has enjoyed the highest quality of education but now that quality is being threatened. Without the parcel tax providing much needed revenue, the district could potentially look very different from its former self.

Every student deserves a quality education and the community should work together to realize that. Not only will that ensure that our students are successful but, more practically, high performing schools increase local home values. It is clearly beneficial for all members of the community that a parcel tax be adopted and we must work together, students and adults to realize that goal.

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