Community college measure falls short of two-thirds vote | November 5, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 5, 2010

Community college measure falls short of two-thirds vote

Support is there, but taxes are 'toxic' this year, campaigners say

by Chris Kenrick

A majority of local voters favored a six-year, $69-a-year parcel tax to support Foothill and De Anza community colleges, but the tax — Measure E — fell short of the two-thirds approval it needed to pass.

This story contains 455 words.

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Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be e-mailed at


Posted by Mike L, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 3, 2010 at 1:21 am

Good thing a 2/3rd majority is required to raise taxes

With Today's 30 year Mortgage rates at around 4% and property tax rates at around 1.4% all inclusive in Palo Alto, homeowners are spending 26% of their housing cost on property tax

That's way too much already

Posted by Alf, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 3, 2010 at 5:06 am

> "Most people wanted to further young people's education and
> have it available for future high schoolers," De Anza
> student Vanessa Rosas said.

According to the demographic data on the Chancellor of Community Colleges web site, the percentage of "young" people (less than 19-24 years old) at Foothill-De Anza is only 27%. The rest are over 24 years old. There is no reason that people over 24 can't pay the full cost of their tuition.

> Revenue from the six-year, $69-a-year parcel tax would offset
> $20 million in state cuts sustained by the colleges, allowing
> them to restore classes and labs for more than 10,000 students
> on wait lists this fall, supporters said.

Wonder how much demand for "classes" there would be if the students had to pay the full cost of the class?

Posted by Member, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2010 at 5:32 am

>more than 10,000 students on wait lists this fall

Waiting list?! Know an international student applied the school in late July and she's here now taking 4 classes in Foothill College.

Posted by Michele, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 3, 2010 at 11:22 am

What a bunch of downers you all are! I think Foothill does a wonderful service for our community. Not everyone is ready to head to Harvard or even wants or needs to, believe it or not. Many Gunn and Paly graduates need the two years prior to transferring to a UC or CSU to get themselves ready to go. We need our dental assistants and vet techs as well as our engineers to make our society run. The community colleges are on the bottom of the food chain as far as getting money from the state. Foothill is in a better place than many others because of wise fiscal management in the past.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2010 at 11:39 am

Michele, I don't see anyone here putting down Foothill or De Anza. Personally, I feel very fortunate that we have them, and have taken many classes there myself. I also think that most people attending them can and should pay the full tuition, which seems more fair than charging every homeowner in the county.

Posted by Steve C, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Failure to adequately support Community Colleges is one of the most short-sighted decisions a community can make. Regardless of age, these students are all on a career track that will get better because of the education and training they receive at community college.
The same people who voted against this measure are the ones who complain the loudest about jobs being shipped overseas. We would rather pay a firefighter almost $180,000 per year but we are upset about community college salaries over $93,000? Pretty mindless if you ask me. But then, the people making these complaints probably didn't have the benefit of being educated at a good Community College, so that probably explains so of that attitude.
As for paying the full tuition? Well, after all, they are students, so they are not making a whole lot of money to begin with. That's the whole point of attending, to improve one's opportunities and standard of living. I'm sure if they are able to pay, they do.
But while we are denying support that the dysfunctional legislature in Sacramento has taken from the system, know this: EVERY country in the world that is eating our lunch economically is subsidizing their students, in many cases, sending them here to take the slots that our own families can't afford. Way to go!

Posted by Observer, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2010 at 2:01 pm

"I also think that most people attending them can and should pay the full tuition, which seems more fair than charging every homeowner in the county."

Students DO pay the "full tuition" as set by the state. If you mean the student should pay the full cost of the education -- it is no longer a public school but a private college. Have you looked at the cost of private post-secondary education lately? $50K+ per year. Public education is funded by - drumroll - the PUBLIC. Not just "homeowners" but businesses, large landlords, etc. pay property taxes, which have always been and will always be the main source of funding for public education. Since Prop 13, there has been a shrinking pot of property tax money available. Strong public education benefits all of society, which is why it behooves us to support parcel tax measures.

"Waiting list?! Know an international student applied the school in late July and she's here now taking 4 classes in Foothill College." Yes, there is a small percentage (perhaps less than 8%) of student population who are international students. The district is allows to charge them a much higher rate of tuition, which brings in much needed revenue. If they cut the international program, the spots would not go to local students, because with the decrease in revenue, the district would have to cut even more programs -- so there would be a net loss to the community by shutting out international students.

"There is no reason that people over 24 can't pay the full cost of their tuition." Again, they ARE paying the full cost of their tuition. And since when is everyone over the age of 24 automatically making good money and can afford an expensive education? In most cases, these are folks who are trying to gain more education so they can get better paying jobs. To say that one's age should be the determining factor in how much one can afford to pay at a community college is absurd.

Posted by jb, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm

First, about the 4 percent, 30-year mortgage, Mike. In the 80s and 90s mortgages were going for 8 to 9 percent. If housing only takes a fourth of the budget, that's a bargain. There has been a housing bubble in Palo Alto since the 1960s.

And Menlo Park member, about that foreign student. if you are holding it against foreign students for getting into Foothill and getting 4 classes, consider that that student is paying foreign student tuition which is considerably higher than residents' tuition. Foothill will be choosing them over the homegrown variety as often as they can because of the money.

People who go to Foothill do pay "full tuition". Whatever the charges are per unit, that is full tuition. No one gets a discount. And if you wish to go to a more expensive school, go to Cal State University. But you may not be able to become an airplane mechanic or phlebotomist there. Community college is as close as we come to having a trade branch in public education. Adults who go to change jobs are generally unemployed and don't have the money to pay fancy tuition. The other option there is a private "college" trade school. They have their own problemsincluding expense.

As to the teacher salaries, why can a business defend its its management pay-scale with, "But if we want the best we have to pay."? But people think good teachers should subsist on minimum wage.

There is an interesting prejudice about teaching. Women have always said, "I'm a teacher," when asked about profession, then everyone at the party sidles away. Now I hear men muttering, "I'm an educator," trying to give the profession some more gloss. But without them, your kid wwould not grow up civilized.

Back to the topic of the strand, which is in essence a school bond for Foothill-De Anza. The community colleges are regarded by the state as part of the K-12,,actually K-14 school system. In theory, the money that comes from the state for K-12 is assumed to be shared by the community colleges. In fact, it is not, or not equitably. While it is a vital link in filling the educational needs of a community, it is neither fish nor fowl and has no standing as a separate entity in state budgeting. There is the University of California, Cal State University, and K-12(14).

If you want education, you have to pay for it. Furthermore, everyone else helps out. We all moved here because we know that communities with strong public education maintain their property value and quality. That's the name of the game on the peninsula, property value.

So pay up and smile, folks. Your property value is at stake.

Posted by Steve C, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Thank you Observer, and well said, jb! That comment about the 4% mortgage rates had me rolling on the floor laughing as well. This must be Mike L's first summer out.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm

How much is the tuition at these schools? How much more would the tuition have to rise to cover the shortfall?

I think the answer to both questions is probably not much.

Last I looked the community college tuition was quite a bargain and I do not think that it is such a burden to pay a little more in these times. Everyone and their mother think that property owners are ATMs. I am not against taxes, but I am against unfair taxes. Property taxes are already one of the most inequitable form of taxation and things like this just make it worse.

And I am tired of people who claim that we have to do it this way because the state is so screwed up. I have been hearing that argument forever. The correct solution is to fix the state, not suck more blood out of the residents. I would even be ok with an increase in income taxes.

I think these colleges have a valuable place in the education hierarchy. But I think that asking them to pay a little more for that is not such a bad thing.

Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Nov 4, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Parcel taxes are a very regressive tax. If Prop 13 were overturned,
the property tax rate could be decreased yet our governments would have increased revenue.

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