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New, bigger parcel tax to be discussed tonight

Original post made on Dec 8, 2009

The Palo Alto Board of Education tonight (Dec. 7) will discuss a proposal to seek renewal of the current $493 annual parcel tax, with a $96-per-year increase, in a special election April 6.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, December 7, 2009, 11:53 PM

Comments (34)

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Posted by Barron Park Parent
a resident of Barron Park School
on Dec 8, 2009 at 1:28 am

At this moment the district should not ask for any increase. It is just not the time. The economy is bad and our students are facing a lot of challenges to face the latest incidents.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Dec 8, 2009 at 6:26 am

Didn't we just pass property tax increases for schools?


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Posted by FS
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 8, 2009 at 7:20 am

I'll vote no if there's an exemption for seniors. Everyone should pay their fair share.


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Posted by Erin
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 8, 2009 at 9:36 am

Mike,
You just passed a bond measure that was for the Measure A building project. Can't be used for operating expenses.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 8, 2009 at 9:50 am

The school district just gave teachers and principals a 5.5% increase .. and then claimed that they are "in the red". There is no financial management at the school district -- just a rubber stamp for "more money".


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Posted by JM
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 8, 2009 at 11:05 am

That much I hate to pay more taxes, this is something I'm willing to pay.

I have one and only one child in the public school. But please also consider that good school would bring appreciation to PA properties, which everyone benefits, even senior citizens. It's not speculation. It's the truth in PA. And this kind of property appreciation means more to senior citizens than younger ones like me. I can go anywhere to dig my next barrel of gold or send my kid to private school. Not so lucky for more senior, retired residents, I assume.

PLus, $96 increase is only enough for one decent lawn mowing when you put yout house on market, maybe?


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Posted by Concerned Retiree
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2009 at 11:14 am

Now is not the time to raise parcel tax rates. I would vote to continue at the present rate and support it, even though as a senior citizen, I could opt out. In these times, the schools need to tighten their belts, just like everyone else.

Parents already support the schools through various organizations. Those that would like to pony up another $100 per year certainly can do so through these.


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Posted by Barron Park parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 8, 2009 at 11:18 am

In response to JM
but please also consider that good school would bring appreciation to PA properties, which everyone benefits, even senior citizens. It's not speculation. It's the truth in PA. And this kind of property appreciation means more to senior citizens than younger ones like me. I can go anywhere to dig my next barrel of gold or send my kid to private school. Not so lucky for more senior, retired residents, I assume.

PLus, $96 increase is only enough for one decent lawn mowing when you put yout house on market, maybe?

Are you kidding me? What are you talking about when you said that good school would bring appreciation to PA properties? Do you know that our house already went down because of the suicides, few people are moving back to the place they came from, and others are now afraid to bring their children to this district?


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Posted by Clarification
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 8, 2009 at 11:21 am

Teachers did not receive a 5.5% raise. There was no increase in employee salaries this year.

The district is tightening its belt and will have to continue to do so. See the first interim budget report tonight.

In terms of inflation and increases in student enrollment, the $96 increase won't even put the district back to where it was at the start of this parcel tax in 2005.


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Posted by Janie
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Dec 8, 2009 at 11:42 am

The schools are in DESPERATE need of more money - we absolutely need the parcel tax. They are talking about furlows for the teachers next year. I'm not sure those who do not have kids currently in school really understand how much the schools are suffering. We are down to bare bones and there are more cuts coming. We can barely pay for aids and the class sizes are starting to increase. Programs are being cut. If you look at how much per student is being spent in similar communities (Scarsdale, NY, New Trier, IL, etc) - we're at the bottom of the bottom. Every day I'm thankful the school is even open - now we have a 5 day Thanksgiving break. The stress on the teachers and the classrooms is enormous. If you think the UC system is in trouble - then take a peak at what's happening to our beloved Palo Alto schools - it's just as bad


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Posted by Sally
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 8, 2009 at 11:48 am

Enough already with the tax increases and the always increasing utility rates and all the other diddly fees.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 8, 2009 at 12:38 pm

> but please also consider that good school would
> bring appreciation to PA properties

Really? How much will each property in the PAUSD jurisdiction actually increase? (By the way, there has been a significant decrease in the 94301 prices over the last year)? Please be specific .. remember, the PAUSD district includes Palo Alto, Stanford residences and the north end of Los Altos Hills.


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Posted by JM
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 8, 2009 at 12:43 pm

To "Barron Park parent":

"Do you know that our house already went down because of the suicides, few people are moving back to the place they came from, and others are now afraid to bring their children to this district?"

So your proposal would be what? eliminate the tax and ruin the schools and you forclosure selling stawberries on the sidewalk?

Come on. It's just a parcel tax trying to build a good school district for all of us. You don't have to blame so many things, national, state or personal, onto it.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 8, 2009 at 12:56 pm

> "Do you know that our house already
> went down because of the suicides

Really .. by how much, and what proof do you have to back up such a claim?

> eliminate the tax and ruin the schools

This is sheer hysteria and makes no sense at all!!

> It's just a parcel tax trying to build a good
> school district for all of us

It is another grab for $40M that will only be used to bolster already overpaid staff salaries. Better to reduce the head count and live within your means.



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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2009 at 1:13 pm

The 5 day Thanksgiving break had nothing to do with saving money. The 5 day Thanksgiving break is because in the past so many parents took their kids out of school that day to travel. We still have 180 days in the school year. (Many days less and many hours less than other developed countries).


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Posted by Sally
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 8, 2009 at 1:14 pm

If the school's so broke, what's it doing undertaking a major landscaping project at Paly bordering El Camino?

How would raising the parcel tax stop the suicides?

Have you looked at the Valley unemployment rate? The store vacacy rate? The office vacancy rate?

It's clear from the economy that we can't afford more. People are struggling, especially people over 50.

You know the old joke:

What did you get for your 50th birthday?
Laid off.

If you don't know it, you ultimately will.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2009 at 2:02 pm

This is not the time for a property tax increase. The schools need to become more efficient with the money they have. There is too much administration and not enough classroom support. It's time to get back to basics.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2009 at 3:08 pm

About 85% of the school budget goes to salaries & benefits.


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Posted by DPTP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 8, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Property taxes are already so horribly biased towards longtime residents, it would be fairer to make people who are already paying way too little property tax pay more instead. For example we pay 20,000 a year in property tax whereas neighbors get away with paying a tiny fraction of this.


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Posted by perspective
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2009 at 4:13 pm

"By the way, there has been a significant decrease in the 94301 prices over the last year?"

Significant? Maybe at the low point but it look's like it's about flat for the year: Web Link


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Posted by homeowner
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 8, 2009 at 4:41 pm

It is tough for more recent homeowners to stomach these property tax rates and parcel taxes here, I will vote against this one.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2009 at 5:00 pm

DPTP:
Think of all the property taxes your neighbors have paid over 20, 30, 40 years or more.

Think of how much your property tax could increase if Prop 13 didn't limit the annual increase.

Think about how many older/retired homeowners would be forced out of their homes if they couldn't afford the property tax.

Think of where you'll be when you're in your 60's, 70's 80's.


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Posted by LWL
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 8, 2009 at 6:08 pm

This is ridiculous, I would definite rally up support from my relatives living in PA to vote NO to this measure. This is not the time to ask for more taxes. I am very disappointed at how these school administrators manage their budget.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 8, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I am more than willing to write checks to my childrens' teachers for use in the classroom, but am totally unwilling to give the district a blank check or in this case $589, to fund what amounts to administrative overhead. Considering how many people in this community are unhappy with the way the schools are run and how our students are doing under the current way of doing things, why should anyone vote for this measure?

Do not listen to the fearmongerers among Palo Alto real estate agents and the Palo Alto Weekly.

Time for tough love all the way around!


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 8, 2009 at 8:05 pm

In the 2009-2010 school year (this year) the district will have at LEAST a $3.1 million dollar deficit due to the state taking some "fair share" money and the decrease in County Tax revenue.

In 2010-2011,PAUSD will have at LEAST a 5.7 million dollar deficit for the same reasons.

This deficit could hit $8 million in the 2011-2012 school year.

This does not include any further cuts the state may make or the possibility that Basic Aid districts could be eliminated.

Considering 86% of the budget is staff, that's a lot of tough love. There may be some adminstrative fluff at the district, but the elementary schools (of about 500 kids) run with a principal, a secretary and a part-time clerk. Not much fluff.

And if you don't believe that a strong school district is reflected in real estate prices, look at the cities whose prices (including Palo Alto) have only declined slightly or not at all vs. those who have lost 50% of their value. A big factor is a strong school district.


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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 8, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Schools asked for all kinds of supports(financially and physically) already, they should learn how to work on their money wisely. Vote No definitely.


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Posted by high school parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 8, 2009 at 9:43 pm

My kids are receiving an excellent education. I am satisfied with PAUSD. My kids have had many exceptional teachers and the parcel tax funds will help to keep them here. The $$ shortfall is real. I will be voting yes.


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 8, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Good to see so many wise posts on this issue.

Why on earth should we be asked to pay yet more while there is high unemployment, no salary increases, inflation, and on and on? Schools ask for more and more money, yet are never satisfied with the amount. No doubt the following year they will ask for yet another increase. Enough already.



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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 9, 2009 at 8:37 am

Again -

Our schools are dealing with deficits they have no control over and is not their fault (unlike, say, our city..). Cuts are going to happen no matter what, a continued parcel tax will just make them smaller.

Any money given directly to your kids school can only buy "stuff" not staff. The only ways to pay for staff are through this parcel tax or through a donation to Partners in Education.


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Posted by Janie
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Dec 9, 2009 at 9:14 am

When was the last time some of you popped in to one of the elementary schools and saw lots of Fluff? There's no school nurse, no on-site counselors, not enough aids, parents working the playground, parents in the classrooms, parents working as crossing guards, parents teaching math labs - and in this economy fewer and fewer parents have schedules that allow for this type of volunteering. Not to mention that most parents aren't qualified to be teachers. The aids are getting about $20 an hour - which is pathetic.

We had 100 new families at Walter Hays this year (not counting the kindergarteners) 100!!!
That's a lot of stress on a shool and it requires teachers and aids and an infrastructure we don't have, so what are you going to cut?

I encourage all of you who don't want to pay to stop into your local elementary school and see what's going on. Talk to your neighbors who have small kids- I think if you did you would really understand that this is not about organic lunches and fancy field trips, this is about the basics.

Only after you've REALLY educated yourself are you a responsible voter. RIght now I think there's a lot of misinformation about extra cash just laying around the schools.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 9, 2009 at 9:25 am

Janie - well said!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2009 at 9:31 am

Janie

I agree with you completely at the elementary schools.

I am not so sure that the same can be said about the secondary schools. Although I know that there is not so much fluff in the classrooms, there are often less technology than at the elementary schools, text books are in poorer condition and there is generally a feeling of less money available in the classrooms, I never seem to hear from a teacher with a wish list for classroom supplies such as boxes of tissues etc. However, I also think that there is a lot of fluff in the way these schools are administered. I get a lot of mailings - often duplicated for each child - when an email could do instead, there are also always many administrators hanging around in school offices with little to do, so much so that it is often difficult to find someone to talk to about something when you go into the office, it always seems to be someone else you need to talk to and they are never available. I feel that some type of reorganization of how the administrators work could reduce costs considerably. The same could be said for the district office.

Another thing that really bugs me is that in a time when we are all told to use less water, the school playing fields are often completely waterlogged even in the middle of summer. The water costs of the district must be horrendous.

These are just ways I see money being wasted. I am sure that there must be a lot more ways that costs could be cut at the top.


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Posted by skeptical
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2009 at 10:56 am



'Proposed ballot language says the tax renewal will be used to "preserve excellence in core academic programs," '

Money does not seem to solve the problems with some of these programs, if there are any, a decline in resources for Math? don't some kids take college level Math already, how much can you take away from already way over the top programs (ie, Everyday Math)

I'll take good and not excellent, and remain wary of the threats to core subjects in a district where people take care of themselves (tutoring, fast tracking) and no amount of money solves the achievement gap.



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Posted by Jim H>
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Janie,
100 new families, not counting Kinders??? For a 500 student school, less 80 for Kinders, that's over 20% new families. Are you sure that's correct? And, it's not as if the enrollment went up 100 students, enrollment is still the same as it was (or very close) to what it has been in recent years.

There's plenty of money that can be cut out of the admin and general costs at the district level.


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