Area voters will face another parcel tax on their ballot this November, this time to provide funds for the hard-pressed Foothill-De Anza Community College District -- caught between increasing enrollment and state funding cutbacks.
The district is seeking approval of an annual $69-per-parcel tax that would last for six years. College trustees voted Monday to place the measure on the Nov. 2 ballot.
The tax would provide an estimated $7 million a year to make up in part for more than $20 million in state funding cuts over the past two years, the district said.
The measure requires a two-thirds voter approval in the college district, which serves more than 45,000 students from Palo Alto, Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Stanford, Sunnyvale and portions of San Jose.
Despite increased enrollment, Foothill and De Anza have had to cut course offerings and eliminate hundreds of full- and part-time faculty and staff positions in the past two years, according to district officials.
"Local community colleges are more important than ever," said Bruce Swenson, a Palo Alto resident who chairs the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees.
"The University of California and California State University systems are raising tuition and turning away more students, making Foothill and De Anza the only affordable options for many local students, including workers who need retraining."
Board Vice Chair Pearl Cheng said the community colleges play a vital role in the community's economy as well as in people's lives.
"Local employers tell us that they rely on our graduates -- whether it's the nurses, paramedics and other health-care professionals who staff hospitals and clinics in the region, or students with strong backgrounds in math, science and engineering that local high-tech companies need," Cheng said.
District Chancellor Linda Thor said the measure would provide "stable funding that the state can't take away.
"It will allow Foothill and De Anza colleges to give our students the education and job training they'll need to compete in the toughest job market we've seen in decades."
Funds would be used for core academics, increasing the number of classes and labs, preparing students for timely transfer to four-year colleges, and keeping libraries open, the district said.