News


Palo Alto schools parcel tax passes

Results to be certified Tuesday, May 12

UPDATE: The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters officially certified the results of the Palo Alto special parcel tax election on Tuesday, May 12. A total of 28,759 ballots were processed and counted in both Palo Alto and a Campbell Union School District special election, with 33.47 percent of eligible registered voters casting ballots, according to the registrar.

With a wide margin of 77 percent "yes" votes and all ballots counted, the passage of Palo Alto schools parcel tax Measure A is official.

Reached at a "Yes on A" campaign party just after the unofficial results were first released by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters on election night, campaign co-chairs Nana Chancellor and Sara Woodham, in tears, said the overwhelming support is exciting, reassuring -- and a little surprising.

They and a group of about 30 volunteers spent Monday and Tuesday calling more than 2,000 voters, sending emails and posting on Facebook to corral last-minute support for the new $758-per-parcel tax, which if approved by two-thirds of voters would begin on July 1 and last six years with 2 percent annual increases.

In addition to the $13 million generated by the tax each year, the proposed $120 increase would provide $2.3 million to support investments in student health and wellness efforts, academic supports for struggling students and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) instruction.

On Election Day, Chancellor even drove to several seniors' homes to pick up their ballots and drop them off at the post office.

"We were so nervous about the disruption that it would cause if this did not pass," she said.

The "Yes on A" camp was facing what now seems to be a vocal minority of people who viewed voting down the tax as a way to send a message to school district leadership during a year of crisis. Others had expressed opposition to the increased funding for a district much more financially healthy than in years past. But only 4,073 voters cast a "no" vote (22.66 percent), compared to the 13,903 in support as of the final count.

A total of 17,976 votes have been counted with 33.47 percent voter turnout, according to the county registrar. Ballots were accepted in person until 8 p.m. on Election Day, and the registrar continued to post daily updates as ballots came in via mail throughout the week.

"To have a significant turnout, to have such a favorable vote -- it just shows the level of support for our students, and I think also the belief in our mission," said Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Max McGee, reciting the district's mission of "nurturing curiosity, creativity and resilience, empowering every child to reach his or her fullest intellectual, social and creative potential."

"I hope that's resonated," McGee said. "Certainly this kind of support enables us to transform those words into actions."

Chancellor and Woodham said Tuesday they felt confident that the "yes" votes would continue to climb as the remaining ballots are counted.

"There are way more people that felt this way than not," Woodham said. "That to me is so incredibly reassuring as a community. We're ready to get past this, move on and focus on the things we need to focus on."

Palo Alto voters last approved a parcel tax increase in 2010 in the city's first mail-in special election. The six-year $589 tax passed with 79 percent support. That tax's 2 percent per year automatic escalator has brought the rate taxpayers currently pay to $638 per parcel.

Related content:

'Yes on A' parcel tax campaign raises more than $88K

Battle over Measure A heats up

Editorial: Yes on Measure A

Guest Opinion: Tax renewal would protect Palo Alto school programs

Comments

12 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 5, 2015 at 8:46 pm

Brian is a registered user.

At the risk of celebrating prematurely:
Yippee!


34 people like this
Posted by Huh
a resident of Barron Park
on May 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm

"The "Yes on A" camp was facing what now seems to be a vocal minority of people who viewed voting down the tax as a way to send a message to school district leadership during a year of crisis. "

Huh, then it's true - there really are just 10 real people who post on PA Online!


19 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on May 5, 2015 at 8:53 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@huh - yes, i was thinking the same thing. A handful of very vocal, dissatisfied parents. Well, if their goal was to send a message to the district by voting No, I hope they acknowledge that the huge Yes vote is also a message. People are willing to give Max Mcgee a chance.


9 people like this
Posted by Skelly 2.0
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2015 at 9:08 pm

That is what an organized campaign, funded with $80K, will get you. Max McGee probably should not have said that the 77% represents "belief in our mission." That was a bit of a leap there and he sounded so much like Kevin Skelly. Unless he also adds that his edict to remove zero period was also supported by the vast majority of voters, including the senior citizens who opted out, the seniors who had their ballots mailed for them, and all the voters who were sold on the phone banks.


43 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on May 5, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Eric Rosenblum is a registered user.

Congratulations to the folks who worked so hard for this resounding success.

Thank you on behalf of our kids, and our fantastic teachers (and administrators).

It's also good to know that the angry voices on this forum that sometimes seemed to be the vast majority turn out to be a small minority. It makes me feel so much better about this community.


Like this comment
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 5, 2015 at 9:24 pm

[Post removed.]


42 people like this
Posted by Parent who voted NO for good reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2015 at 9:42 pm

I don't think the people who were on the NO side are against the school getting money, they were against exactly the attitude being expressed above. I find it really sad that the predicted increase in insularity when we so badly need to solve problems is already surfacing.

This is exactly why so many parents were speaking out. Because yes was inevitably going to be used to marginalize people telling the district to clean up. Whereas a NO result would have resulted in families trying to improve things, a yes is being used as more ammunition to cover things up. The biggest celebrations will be in the homes of the most incompetent district employees who will continue to do harm to children, while those who shilled for this will go on in their selfish and self-righteous merry ways.

I see more than 3600 people who voted NO on a school tax, many for the first time. Our kids lose when the district gets the message that the way to get more money is to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more for every special election rather than streamline its operations and restore good faith with the parent community.

I'd love to know how many of those NO's are parents of high school students, though.

Having said that, those who started the NO campaign were warned that if they were going to try to send a message, they needed to take it seriously, or it would backfire. Because the sad sure thing about the district office is that we remain with no mechanism at all to solve serious problems or streamline top-heavy administration.


30 people like this
Posted by Parent who voted NO for good reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2015 at 9:46 pm

"reciting the district's mission of "nurturing curiosity, creativity and resilience, empowering every child to reach his or her fullest intellectual, social and creative potential.""

Dear Dr. McGee:

Now please do something about trying to achieve this, or stop reciting it, it's like being punched.


11 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on May 5, 2015 at 10:00 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Parent who voted NO for good reason - McGee has only been working here for 9 months. There have been positive changes, and it is an uphill battle with an intransigent union, and intractable parents.


4 people like this
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 5, 2015 at 10:05 pm

When the "no" campaigns arguments were limited to questioning why we were spending so much money on special ed and mental health, the result was a foregone conclusion!


9 people like this
Posted by Parent who voted NO for good reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2015 at 10:09 pm

@Slow Down,

I am a McGee fan myself, but unfortunately have seen McGee being sucked under by people who worked with him who now will almost certainly finish the job.

The sad thing is that the issues I am most concerned about were moving more under Skelly.

So, this thing passes, but the parents are still "intractable"?


11 people like this
Posted by Huh
a resident of Barron Park
on May 5, 2015 at 10:15 pm

"The biggest celebrations will be in the homes of the most incompetent district employees who will continue to do harm to children, while those who shilled for this will go on in their selfish and self-righteous merry ways."

Divisive and derisive much? With this kind of nonconstructive approach, it's not surprising you don't make as much progress as you'd like.


5 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on May 5, 2015 at 10:21 pm

Parent who voted no, do you honestly think the bad teachers will be the ones celebrating the passing of A the most? That's kind of a sick dream world you live in. I would hope the quality educators, parents, students, and real estate agents would be happiest.


9 people like this
Posted by Congratulations!
a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2015 at 11:14 pm

Great job by all involved!


The sour grapes by some posting above - when the result is funding for our schools - is quite telling. Any measure getting 77% is a resounding victory and endorsement.


16 people like this
Posted by Parent who voted NO for good reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2015 at 11:35 pm

@Bob,
I'm not one of those people who has had bad experiences with teachers, I personally think we have really good teachers in this district. I am not saying they don't exist, it's just not what I was referring to.

No, I'm talking about incompetent administrators in the district office who even retaliate against families - hurting children - with no accountability. They are celebrating people just like you giving them cover to keep drawing their enormous salaries and not being scrutinized after all. I have even heard worse things said about some of them by board members, so I guess I have good company in my "sick dream world".

@Huh,
"Divisive and derisive much? With this kind of nonconstructive approach, it's not surprising you don't make as much progress as you'd like."

OK, Huh. You give me back the years of my child's education that were wasted on trying the "constructive" approach, and I will eat my hat. Deal? You will never know how much illegal behavior by district personnel that I have personally just overlooked in order to try to keep things out of a legal arena and "positive". But I tell you what, if you would like to see the back of me, perhaps you would be so kind as to refund me the six figure sum we put into this district so that we can get the education elsewhere. Volunteer to help families of special ed kids. And then call me when you wake up to how hard it is to be constructive with conniving people with moral compasses you have to look for with a high-powered microscope.

Again, this is exactly why there were people who even thought there should be a NO. The yes people simply blaming and covering their eyes to the problems.


1 person likes this
Posted by Huh
a resident of Barron Park
on May 5, 2015 at 11:47 pm

@Good Reason - I guess it hasn't worked out for you, but I can't make it up to you. It could be your approach wasn't as positive as you thought, but who knows. I'm the parent of a special needs child (as perhaps you are?) and while our kid has lots of challenges, the school district has been constructive and helpful for the last 10 years.


16 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 5, 2015 at 11:56 pm

Congratulations Measure A team! You all worked so hard for our kids.

Now let's focus on moving forward!


41 people like this
Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 6, 2015 at 12:13 am

Oh well. The ability of the schools to flush money down the toilet will not be interrupted.


18 people like this
Posted by Parent who voted NO for good reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 12:24 am

@Huh,

If you call fundraising, active in PTA, writing letters of praise about teachers and custodians to superiors, volunteering in the classroom including room parent more than once, and calling our public education better than private negative, then guilty as charged. But then we hit middle school -- maybe didn't smile enough when we were jumping through all those hoops and run ragged on wild goose chases and being lied to repeatedly? (How does that work when you are being lied to -- all those people who lost their life savings in the Enron scandal just weren't positive enough in their investing? We don't need auditors or police, we just need coaches to make people smile harder?)


2 people like this
Posted by skip tickle
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 4:22 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 6, 2015 at 6:06 am

Looks like we could have asked for more than a $120 increase.


6 people like this
Posted by Skelly 2.0
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 6:16 am

I'm sure the increase and renewal of the parcel tax will result in the same successes that PAUSD experienced in 2010-2015, after the last resounding victory.


41 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2015 at 6:56 am

I think this result only shows that if you let a majority group (registered voters) vote and benefit from something that only a minority group (Property owners less than 65 years old) must pay for, they your odds of passing it are good.... as the PAUSD polling predicted when they crafted the measure.

This is a sad day for democracy.


24 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 7:11 am

Reading the article, I think they feel they have had a lucky escape. This does not sound like a resounding success, just a sigh of relief.

I just hope they stop wasting our money and start living responsibly. No more PIE, no more begging poor, and no more excuses that they don't have enough money for anything. No wish lists for teachers - I can't afford it.

Our family has to be more careful now with our money to afford this, so we expect the same with PAUSD spending the money we are forced to give them.

Sour grapes. Yes. They just had better be more careful with my money.


24 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 6, 2015 at 7:22 am

There was something odd bordering and/or unethical about the calls I got from the For Measure A folks. Starting 3 days before the end of the voting, I started getting recorded and live calls saying, effectively, "Our records show that you haven't voted yet so we urge you to get your ballot in and vote for A."

Huh? I mailed in my ballot as soon as I got it. Was my vote NOT counted? Do the volunteers have access to our voting records? Do they consider it ethical to lie? All of the above?


12 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 7:40 am

Why are tax measures decided on May 5th and not during an even year election in November?


25 people like this
Posted by Parent who voted NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 8:12 am

@Anonymous,
That was one of the problems the NO crowd complained about. The district decided to hold a special election instead of having the vote during a general election. Holding the special election cost the district around $300,000 more than holding the vote during a general election. The trade off is that fewer people vote during the special elections making it easier to get what they want. Rather than clean things up and show good faith with the public, which has show its willingness to vote for school funding with large margins even in general elections, the district decided it was better to spend money gaming the vote.

Looking back, the district held another vote not that long ago to get the ballot for school board members moved from odd years to even years, effectively giving some of our most controversial board members 2 more years than they were elected to serve. The way they sold it to the public was that holding the elections during the even years would mean the elections would cost less to the district.


2 people like this
Posted by Huh
a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2015 at 8:42 am

@Good Reason - I agree, smiling couldn't hurt - I try to do it too. I've not experienced or seen anything like you describe, though I have seen parents who don't get their way get upset.


14 people like this
Posted by Parent who voted NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 9:11 am

@Huh,

Your continued digging on pushing the idea that problems we are experiencing in this district are because people didn't smile enough, given all the bending over backwards we have done (and the smiling), and the horrible things I have seen done to other families with the most vulnerable of children, is truly offensive. Let me guess, are you one of those people who think our depression/suicide problems are because people just didn't smile enough?

I have seen parents who didn't "get their way" (such as, their child being safe in school) have to go to the federal government, or move away so their child was able to be safe. Lucky for the former, at least, the OCR feels a responsibility to protect the least among us rather than being smug in blaming other people just because they got theirs.

Doug Moran -- now do you see who was right in what was likely to happen? Not only will there be no soul-searching, but people like Huh are going to tell families whose kids face bullying, discrimination, depressions, or retaliation that it was their fault for not smiling enough.



2 people like this
Posted by Huh
a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2015 at 9:21 am

@Good Reason - sorry you are angry or offended. Hopefully things improve for you and your family. Like I said, our experience has been a positive one, despite the challenges we've faced.


19 people like this
Posted by HeldMyNoseVotedYes
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 6, 2015 at 9:27 am

Okay - I followed the advice of the Editorial, of the Yes on Measure A campaign, and the appeals of Realtors, teachers and local politicians :


- I separated governance problems from fiscal support (in my mind)
- I voted YES on Measure A

- But it took a lot of stomach to do this. I expect results.


Can I now assume that the school board will get back to the work of lowering student stress in our schools? Will the Union go back to the drawing board and sort out how to get Schoology implemented? Will the Homework policy finally be implemented? Will the schools finally do SOMETHING about test stacking?

Now that we have written the check, please don't make us regret it. You have our support. Now do something with it.

Please fix the district. It is broken.


16 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 10:19 am

I'll go on record as saying I voted "No" here.

I feel that this discussion should have happened in the context of a broader discussion about the changing economics here and whether, beyond the extreme and atypical example of Buena Vista is there a significant number of lower and middle class families being displaced by rising rents? Is there anything we as a communinity can do for tenants rights and for the least among us, so to speak? Are there many Palo Alto families who, say between 2009 and 2014 were pushed out by rent increases? I met a few on the campaign trail.

That and a nagging feeling that the political machine is too efficient, that a non-electable entity has too much say on policy and influence on elections. Good point a poster made about the switch to even years for PAUSD board. I felt the marketing brochure for this was a little too slick.

Don't get me wrong: I supported all five of the current board members, and like Max McGee.

But I felt there was still time to recalibrate our parcel tax within the existing timeframe and some of these issues deserve a wider consideration.

We can do better.






5 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 6, 2015 at 10:45 am

Alphonso is a registered user.

If some special needs kids need more services why would it make sense to reduce the District's resources - it takes money to provide the resources you say you need.

As for elections, the Campbell District also held a parcel tax election on May 5 - not very unusual to hold such an election. The election turnout was very similar to any mid-term election and a low turnout favors the minority if they are organized. More on elections, of course they keep track of who has voted (not how they voted) - you will see a voter roster outside every precinct during a regular election that identifies who has and who has not voted - the roster is updated every hour. I assume they do the same sort of thing for mail in elections. It is never unethical to promote voting and how to vote - as long as it is not in a precinct open for voting. Also you can track your mail in ballot at the Santa Clara County voter web site - to see if it was counted.


9 people like this
Posted by Grateful
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2015 at 10:54 am

I am profoundly grateful to the group of people who spent countless hours getting Measure A passed. Nana, Sara, Sarah, Beth, and so many others- THANK YOU!!

Thank you for all you have done for our children and our community!!! We are grateful and so appreciative to have you in Palo Alto.


9 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 6, 2015 at 11:00 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Thank you Palo Alto for the vote of support for additional resources.

I. too, hope that the issues raised in the campaign by no voters can be addressed constructively. It does turn out this time that Town Square comments were a poor indicator of how the community feelw.

Like the majority of voters, I felt that passing the measure was a better way to support the students than the barrage of negative comments--yes there were a few thoughtful comments in opposition that should be respected now that the election is over.

I also know that we are blessed to have more resources than most districts in California and hope there are ways for us as California residents to increase resources in districts where the families are not as affluent and more children are at risk academically.


4 people like this
Posted by Eva
a resident of Barron Park School
on May 6, 2015 at 11:09 am

Thank you Palo Alto for renewing our school parcel tax. Ditto to comments above about worries that a very vocal minority were going to lead to it not passing.

Thanks for the tireless efforts of the organizers Nana, Sara, Sarah, Beth, and so many others--Thank you!


5 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2015 at 11:14 am

Really surprised at this outcome given the tenor the comments on this community boards (Palo Alto Weekly) the past month or two.

Congrats to the Measure A supporters. You worked hard for this!


7 people like this
Posted by Phalse
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 6, 2015 at 11:27 am

NOT a competition... I was so grateful to hear the comments from parents whove been grossly disheartened by their direct experiences within pausd schools.

I almost didnt want to vote at all. We are renters, but also a longtime pausd parents and as much as we considered voting no, we couldnt challenge the kids educational administrative practices by reducing their funding. We had to vote yes.

I hope other avenues will help initiate changes, with a message to PAUSD that the community wont penalize the educational community. Trying to sqeeze the systems funding will only make the bad apples more calculated and competitive, not the environment i want for our kids.

The damaging factors and failures need to be addressed, and how schools address them will depend on changes to communication. When we recognize a real problem, we cant be afraid to go through the necessary channels to address it. Insist on protection against retaliation and if the fish stinks from the head, go higher up the food chain.

I hope there are true leaders at PAUSD who are committed to improving accountability and resources. I know there are many committed teachers, staff and volunteer parents.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

(Copied from my previous comments)
It is a great relief to hear other parents clearly express their personal experience of our school community.

I feel that the district wears a lot of false faces addressing the most obvious issues with what seems like a systemic tactic of erasure (ignore it and it isnt there) and power politics (if it doest showcase our agenda it doesnt exist) with absolute disinterest in real measures and nonexistent support for obvious legitimate issues. The focus is in appearances and whatever looks good for marketing and media image. Sign of the times or natural aspect.of wealthy suburban politics and common place school administrative politics.

It has felt like the heartbeat is lost in the sound of trumpets. We need what we have (or what should already be in place) to actually function conscientiously. Im not an expert in what makes a district or community really work (wish i knew) but I think that has to come from strong leadership and a clear mission.


6 people like this
Posted by Thanks, Nana & Sara.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 6, 2015 at 11:49 am

Thank you, Nana and Sara. I saw you out there working really hard. You made the phone calling events fun. You organized a great team. You reached out with positive messages and huge energy. I, for one, am very grateful for your leadership.

I am happy to know that our school district will have the resources they need to apply to continually improve programs. There is always room for improvement--but improvement isn't likely to happen without resources to make it happen.

Let's work with our district leaders toward positive change. I disagree with the zero period change (I have read the research and it does not address the matter of OPTIONAL start times anywhere. It discusses MANDATORY bell times and clearly acknowledges that there is a percentage of students who are early risers who benefit from an early start.). That said, I see many other changes in the pipeline that look good.

I think reinstating zero period WITH a block schedule would be a great start to maximize flexibility for time management. Students are telling us that FLEXIBILITY minimizes their stress. Pressure from peers, parents, colleges, and the unpredictability of workload adds to stress. Isolation adds to stress. Emphasis on grades rather than learning snuffs the joy of learning.

Another good change would be to have teachers identify ONE web site where they can all post and track homework, tests, etc. to maximize teacher ability to reduce test stacking and to enable teachers to get a better picture of the total load that students are being assigned. It doesn't have to be Schoology, but ONE site would be very helpful to the students...and the teachers, I think.

Finally, in the interest of responding to students' stated need for flexibility, I would love to see homework assignments given further in advance whenever possible. Many kids have nights when they have NO time at all for homework. My daughter uses Sundays to work ahead as much as she can because she has other activities on Monday and Tuesday after school that are very important to her. Some of her teachers don't assign work in advance so it is harder for her to manage her time for those classes. Assigning work in advance teaches kids time management and reduces stress! Let's do it.

I'm not sure how to deal with the grades competition problem. It's a social issue. I think we do need to teach our kids some good manners. It is extremely ill- mannered to ask personal questions like, "What grade did you get on that test?" It makes the people around you uncomfortable...and it really is NONE of your BUSINESS. Let's teach our children good manners for now and for their future. That kind of competitive behavior would be looked on as immature and inconsiderate in the working world. A mature, well-mannered adult wouldn't ask a colleague, "How much money do you make?" Let's make sure our children's school experience prepares them for life. Learning good manners starts at home.


18 people like this
Posted by Parent who voted NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 11:57 am

@ Alphonso,
What's needed isn't more money for services, what's needed is more honesty and professionalism. They could cut the staff in half and do a better job for most people I know if we just raised the average level of ethics to the something near the norm. We have a problem in this district in that sped employees have to work under impossible conflicts of interest. It would be difficult even for the most principled.

@HeldYourNose,

Now do you see the problem with your vote? Everyone who was talking about sending a msg by voting NO also supports our schools, and many of them probably held their noses, too. But it was inevitable that the insiders would interpret it as a way of digging in on marginalizing those having problems and glossing them over, not something we needed in the middle of crisis of suicide.

People trying to call the voices on this list a "vocal minority" -- I posted my opinion, too, but I never campaigned, never emailed anyone, never flyered, never so much as sent out a msg to Nextdoor with concerns. There was literally no NO campaign, no argument in the ballot. No one was trying that hard. The fact is, no one really wants to send a message to the district this way either. This town supports the schools, the yesses, and the noes. But the reactions of people on the yes side of sticking their heads in the sand and letting loose out the other end of anyone else willing to stand up and fight was predictable, because they were already doing that.

We didn't need the yes so much as we needed the wake up call. Yes was an ok answer so long as we could still get the wake up call another way. Sadly, the yes voters are drowning it out with their insular self-righteous "I got mine"s so what are you complaining about".


10 people like this
Posted by Parent who voted NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 12:28 pm

@Eva,
Now that it passed, are you going to:
1) Go on like before, dismissing the problems and using the vote to gloss them over, or
2) Working to help people who have had problems restore trust in the district and fix the problems?

Because if it had gone down, the parents who voted NO would have used the result to leverage improvements in our district and helped get it passed the 2nd time.

The reverse doesn't appear to be the case, as most suspected.


13 people like this
Posted by CW
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

The election results show that the views expressed on Palo Alto Online don't reflect the opinion of the community. Thank God!


17 people like this
Posted by My comment
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 6, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Only a tiny population for this special election. Just curious of the real election data:

What is the percentage of senior to vote yes or no?
What is the percentage of home owner to vote yes or no?
What is the percentage of renter to vote yes or no?

Any source dare to post these real data???

I am not against any group, but gaming election system is unfair for the real PA residents who choose PA as their home, instead of just renting for school only. That $300,000 can do a lot for PAUSD, but wasted.


11 people like this
Posted by Parent who voted NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 12:37 pm

@CW,

"The election results show that the views expressed on Palo Alto Online don't reflect the opinion of the community. Thank God!"

Oh? Can you please clarify what you mean by that?

Everyone said they support the schools. What I'm hearing in your post is "Thank God we won't be examining our problems but can go on pretending like last year was just another blip and real systemic contributors to the problem, well, we can just blame that on the imaginations of people who post on TS. Yay! We can pretend people who lie and are incompetent are really doing a good job after all again!"


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 12:39 pm

I tend to agree that this should not be a celebration and self praise to the panic style approach of the YES campaign.

Phone calls, mailings and then news of hand collection of seniors' ballots yesterday, all made me feel repulsed at the way this went through. There was no organized NO campaign, but the YES people were genuinely worried. Hopefully this has sent them a message that they cannot keep on behaving the way they have with our money, but I fear it won't.

They have now been given carte blanche to spend taxpayers money on whatever they desire. They can do more trips to Singapore, spend money on more surveys, specialists and administrators, not of course forgetting all the legal fees they can now feel happy spending, and still not give us an adequate breakdown of how they are spending our money.

I am sick for the self interest of all government officials - and I include schools in this. They are not for profit businesses, they do not have to be accountable to anyone, they just come back for more money whenever they feel like it.

On top of this increase in parcel tax, we are also having to face increases in garbage rates with more work and increases in water due to less use during the drought. As householders, we are not a source of money for government feel good programs. We have to manage our budgets and live within our means. It is not fair that PAUSD does not have to do the same.


8 people like this
Posted by Pickpocket politics
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Pickpocket politics is exactly what brought about Prop 13.

Cut the seniors out and they don't care how much the rest of us have to pay ... more because of their exemptions.


8 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on May 6, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Now that the election is settled, and we understand that the parcel tax is intended as a "forever" source of funding, I would like to see the district do some long-range planning for balancing the budget during rainy days to come.

At some point, the economy will slow down, property values (and taxes) will decrease, people will be out of work, etc. and assuming the budget continues to grow on an annual basis, we can expect the shortfall to be greater than at present.

The public may not be willing and able to fund a large increase to cover the deficit at such a time. It would make sense for the district to consider other alternatives now, for example, a variable parcel tax based on property size.


3 people like this
Posted by Pickpocket politics
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 12:55 pm


... and ... I agree with Skip Tickle's ( skep-tical? ) civil, but CENSORED/DELETED comment questioning the vote count.

When everyone in the system is for the system getting bigger and TAKING more money who knows how people can lose count or what can happen in partisan Palo Alto?

A regressive tax like this is not fair and not fair play when people who are paid by the school system get to contribute money to their own side of the argument unopposed to get at other people's money.


2 people like this
Posted by Annie's Biped
a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Glad to see Measure A passed. Our school district will benefit. I hope those who voted no for whatever reason will continue to show up at school board meetings to press their concerns and issues. I hope those who voted yes will also continue to convey to the school board their support and their reservations. I fervently hope that we in Palo Alto can vote in much larger numbers in the future. Hooray to everyone who returned a ballot. But honestly, when a ballot is delivered to your doorstep and all you have to do is fill it out and drop it in the mailbox, why don't we have a nearly 100% return rate? Such a low rate of return for a one issue very easy ballot is scary!


Like this comment
Posted by CW
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Smells Suspicious
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 6, 2015 at 1:37 pm

When we lived in another city, there was a similar election that everyone seemed to vote "NO" on. At least no one seemed to know of anyone who voted "YES". The measure failed.

The District Superintendent, who was egregiously overpaid at the time ( especially for a small middle class district), would not and could not accept this. He ordered a recount. The measure failed again. Another recount, another loss.

Then the superintendent start pulling excuses out of a bag, blaming "chad", etc, etc, etc. After the FIFTH recount that this crook
ordered ( he insisted on looking at the ballots himself--probably illegal, but he was allowed to do it), the measure "miraculously" passed by a very narrow margin. The superintendent declared it a "huge victory for the kids".

Suspicious? You bet! Rigged? Highly, highly probable case of tampering. Similarities to PAUSD? Enough to make me wonder.


10 people like this
Posted by HeldMyNoseVotedYes
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm

@ParentWhoVotedNo - "Now do you see the problem with your vote? Everyone who was talking about sending a msg by voting NO also supports our schools, and many of them probably held their noses, too. But it was inevitable that the insiders would interpret it as a way of digging in on marginalizing those having problems and glossing them over"


Perhaps, but I suspect the crowd of people who have real reservations, yet still chose to vote YES was larger than the crowd who voted NO; even though we hold similar concerns about the district.

This is probably a widespread opinion as well. Not many people came out to disagree with Bill's editorial on the grounds that there were no problems. In fact, almost everyone agreed there are problems. Most who disagreed with his editorial did so because they felt the issues demanded a NO vote on financing the schools.

Okay - so given all the comments on this election, and very, very, very few comments indicating everything is hunky-dory, one can only assume that the problems in the school are real; that the board knows about it; that this opinion is admitted by the majority, and that the board knows they have a credibility problem, as does the Super.

I would expect either the board or the Super, or individual board members to stand up, thank the community for their vote, and make a commitment to double their efforts to address the issues. Widespread issues, understood by the whole community.

Because everything is not hunky-dory. Even though we voted to send the money.

Even among our Yes on Measure A postings, I don't see people standing up to claim vindication that there are no problems - mostly I see people congratulating hard work and a job well done. I suspect most of us know there are real problems yet to fix.


15 people like this
Posted by Surprised and displeased
a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Having voted no on this measure I am both surprised and displeased that it passed. Even though parcel tax revenues increases have far exceed student growth for most of the past decade our school district's insatiable appetite for more funding continues unchecked. And as others have said above I fear the incentive to bring about needed change in the district is now greatly reduced.

I had already reduced my PIE donations to a very small amount, with the passing of this increase & extension of the parcel tax I will now eliminate them altogether.


10 people like this
Posted by Best of Times, Worst of Times
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 6, 2015 at 2:44 pm

The parcel tax lost big in the Gunn district and won big in the Paly district. That's the news and it is being missed. If you look at the votes by precinct it is clear that we have a very divided school district.


4 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Best/Worst
Your comment is not correct. The measure lost in only one precinct, where it got 64%. Maybe it won slightly less convincingly in some of the Gunn precincts.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Best/Worst

That is interesting. But I would further like to know whether all the NO votes were in fact high school parents. I doubt if this could in fact be found, but it is definitely amongst H S parents that most of the dissatisfaction is being voiced.


3 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on May 6, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Congratulations.

Hope you manage this money like you manage your own money.

You owe it your voters.

Respectfully


2 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Oh my goodness, if Richard III lived today, "An editor, an editor, my kingdom for an editor!"

Yes it's true, in the area immediately surrounding Gunn, the parcel tax only received 63.8% of the vote. I'm not sure that's losing big, but you can decide (14 votes by my count). However, note that it won in every other precinct in the city including Fairmeadow, Greenmeadow, Palo Verde, South Palo Alto, and more. Last I heard, those kids attend Gunn, too!

I supported Measure A. I believe the school district has a lot of work to do and will be continue to be involved to have my voice heard.


8 people like this
Posted by Congratulations
a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2015 at 5:56 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by disclosure
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 6, 2015 at 6:50 pm

"The parcel tax lost big in the Gunn district and won big in the Paly district."

So it lost in Ken's district. Why am I not surprised?


1 person likes this
Posted by Pickpocket politics
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 8:23 pm


Just curious ... but can we get a count of any "spoiled ballots" ... that is, how many ballots, if any, were disqualified and not counted for whatever reason.


4 people like this
Posted by Parent who voted NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 8:44 pm

@Annie's Biped and HeldMyNoseVotedYes,

Thank you both for those healing thoughts.


3 people like this
Posted by Entering Paly
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 8:49 pm

I think we all should move on, although I am worried, and thought we would be starting a charter school, most voters want to fund PAUSD. The campaign was clever, focusing on only YES votes. So if there are 14,000 voters who do want to increase the funding to PAUSD, lets be honest, it worked. Clever plus majority. If you have an issue (chem honesty class at Paly, and what else?), you need to move onward. We will protect our kids, celebrate what Paly can do, and be the parent that helps your child - worse case, you move out. I am tired of fees from law firms, hoping the leadership we put in place will make a difference. Moving on, and entering Paly with apprehension and hope!


10 people like this
Posted by Data speaks
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 6, 2015 at 8:55 pm

The opposing camp can hem and haw and kick and scream and equivocate and speculate until the cows come home, but the truth is in the numbers: with 94% of the vote tallied, "only 3,930 voters cast a "no" vote (22.73 percent), compared to the 13,358 in support..."

That is an OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of people voting in favor of the tax. The truth is that the opposition is a very small minority opinion. Case closed.


10 people like this
Posted by Pickpocket politics
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 9:11 pm

Data does speak, but when you do not really understand it you can be tempted to use it in a condescending manner.

Wikipedia says around 66,000 people live in CA and that a little over 15,000 of them are minors.

That leaves 51,000 people in our city.

>> "only 3,930 voters cast a "no" vote (22.73 percent), compared to the 13,358 in support..."

Somewhere north of 17,000 of them voted.

Not even half.

That's the way our system works, but putting a bow on it and saying the overwhelming majority wants this is going way too far. Especially since the issue is skewed by two things ... that ought to be illegal. What looks like a political bribe to me.

1. Exempting senior citizen residents from having to pay, who many of them have grandchildren in school. Get someone else to pay for grandchild.

2. Sucking in high income people who know this is the best way they can increase funding for the schools and have someone else pay for it - because it is not computed based on the value or size of the property or the income of the resident. This tax is regressive and unfair.

Both of those demographics together would more than account for the 10,000 people who purported voted for this boondoggle.

This is exactly the same thing that led to the tax rebellion of Prop 13.


7 people like this
Posted by Data speaks
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 6, 2015 at 9:24 pm

"Especially since the issue is skewed by two things ... that ought to be illegal. What looks like a political bribe to me."

Opinion. Not data.

"That's the way our system works"

Fact. Otherwise known as data.

"many of them have grandchildren in school."

Source? None? Speculation, not data.

"Sucking in high income people who know this is the best way they can increase funding for the schools and have someone else pay for it"

Source? None? Speculation, not data.

"Both of those demographics together would more than account for the 10,000 people who purported voted for this boondoggle."

Conclusion based on speculation. Again, not data.

You are entitled to your own opinion. But not your own facts.




8 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 9:44 pm

Speaks ... there is relevant and irrelevant facts and opinion. Nothing in your last post had any bearing on what I said other that some of it was opinion. Yeah, I think most people can figure what is fact and what is opinion and how to weight it.

Less than half of Palo Altan's voted ... actually about 1/3. That is broken democracy.

It is well known that seniors vote in higher numbers that the general population and are over-represented in the Palo Alto population (), but you are free to claim things that are not true or question things that are. Seniors and those about to be seniors vote at around 70% ... the highest rate.


4 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on May 6, 2015 at 9:50 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Pickpocket politics - your excuses work both ways. Even though the schools are divisive, and the measure will cost property owners thousands of dollars, only 7% (using your numbers) of the adults in PA voted against Measure A. The election was a complete repudiation of tactics and rhetoric of the opponents of the Measure A.


3 people like this
Posted by Bernie's
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 6, 2015 at 10:03 pm

seriously? You first ridiculously overestimate the opposition. And when confronted by how puny the opposition really was, claim the numbers are wrong.

Give up already.


3 people like this
Posted by Wo Nellie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 10:52 pm

Speaking as someone who was very involved in starting Measure D, I would like to strongly suggest that the people who are sniping at parents because this passed stop equating opposition to very serious bad things going on in the district (and how to deal with them) and opposition to the schools. You are just opening up unnecessary rifts and convincing the public our district is full of nasty, ugly insiders. With Measure D, we polled on the issues internally before doing anything, we did not jump to conclusions about what people thought, especially in such tenuous and self-serving ways as you are now. The district also took polls beforehand about what percentage would pay that much, and lo and behold, the result is the same.

No one asked how anyone felt about whether the district should be promoting or retaining employees who systematically lie in dealings with district families. No one asked how many are unhappy with the district, and of those, how many would vote NO on a funding measure or YES because of that unhappiness. Conflating all those things will only pi$$ people off the next time the schools need money, or make it harder for people to move forward together. In my observation, the strident CYA insider is the most vocal minority.

The 1500+ parents who filled Spangenberg to overflowing for the project-based documentary on a Tuesday night are evidence enough of enormous dissatisfaction with the status quo. Having passed this tax, actually, is more reason to consider a charter because now there is no excuses about whether we can afford it.


3 people like this
Posted by Wo Nellie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 10:57 pm

"...evidence enough of enormous dissatisfaction with the status quo."

Because, by the way, the audience was polled.


1 person likes this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 7, 2015 at 6:01 am

mauricio is a registered user.

I would be very interested to know who counted the votes.


2 people like this
Posted by an overstatement
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2015 at 6:40 am

"The 1500+ parents who filled Spangenberg to overflowing for the project-based documentary on a Tuesday night [is] evidence enough of enormous dissatisfaction with the status quo"

Some thoughts:

While undoubtedly some attending were dissatisfied, many attended just because they were curious.

14,000 PAUSD students have about 28,000 parents so 5% of PAUSD parents attended, tops. This program was advertised outside PAUSD circles - several Stanford departments promoted it. Not everyone was from PAUSD.

83% of PAUSD high school parents and 3 out of 4 students reported in the Strategic Plan Survey that teachers are effectively employing project-based learning in their classrooms. Think Paly journalism publications, robotics, broadcasting, video production, theater, auto, chemistry and physics experiments, and all the semester-end projects that replace final exams, even in math.


1 person likes this
Posted by Skelly 2.0
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2015 at 7:10 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Roger Dodger
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2015 at 8:32 am

Roger Dodger is a registered user.

@mauricio

Votes are counted by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.


3 people like this
Posted by Those 183 Votes
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 7, 2015 at 9:40 am

Those 183 Votes is a registered user.

Of those 3,930 votes, most are knee-jerk reaction to ANY tax. The actual opposition was far far lower. This was a landslide win.


9 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 7, 2015 at 9:59 am

mauricio is a registered user.

There is an erroneous perception among many residents that each time they vote to give the school district money, their property value goes up. Many of them will blurt this out automatically each time this issue comes up. Many of them also work insane hours and have no time to actually find out what's going on in the district. Add to that the fact that the A opposition never bothered to organize and raise money. The voters never got to hear the other side, and when you keep getting mailers, phone calls and see so many lawn signs for one side, while the other side is limited to comments on this board, the outcome is pre ordained. Additionally, holding these elections in an odd year, where historically the other side will not vote, guarantees that the motivated, well financed and active pro parcel tax side would win easily, which is what I had anticipated all along.

Sadly, when the next tragedy occurs, we will find out that the district hasn't reformed, and that the same deeply rooted malfunction and hubris is still very much in place. The only difference is that the approval of the parcel tax makes the district less motivated and more resistant to real reform and real change.


5 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on May 7, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

My math says that 13,358 YES out of 85,914 (and remember the district includes 60,000 population Palo Alto voters plus Stanford and parts of LAH) registered voters is about 16 percent and hardly a mandate (and thank you Hinders, Musgrave, Hawkinson, Steinhauser, Struthers and Holmes belatedly for the gift that keeps on giving --they were my Gunn and Terman math teachers, plus Olive Borgsteadt fifth grade and Chris Creighton sixth grade).

It’s also true that so far only 5 of the 78 comments here are signed by name, which to me is a troubling sign about the quality of the discourse. Less than 10 percent (did that one in my head).

I support the schools, as an alumnus and community member but in terms of the big picture and what has changed here in my 40 plus years, I would rather be in the Monkey Wrench Gang than the Palo Alto 300. So I dissent here.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on May 7, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Well, ok, back out the Campbell votes...anybody?


2 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 7, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Crescent Park Dad is a registered user.

Or you can turn the table on your analysis: only a measly 3,930 no votes out of 85,914 - 4.6%. Hardly a whimper in the big picture.


2 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 7, 2015 at 2:53 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

If we had presidential elections in which one candidate doesn't raise any money, doesn't campaign, does't show up for debates, is never seen on TV and doesn't send out any election material to voters, the outcome would be similar to the Measure A vote. Additionally, having the vote in an odd year makes this, although not from a legal stand point, illegitimate in any other way.

The great majority of voters, with their insane work hours and hyper intense lifestyle have no clue about what's really going on in Palo Alto schools and about the administration's numerous gaffs, incompetence and hubris. If they had even the slightest inkling, I suspect the vote, even in the overwhelmingly favorable circumstances for the pro A crowd, would have been different.


7 people like this
Posted by Wo Nellie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Wo Nellie is a registered user.

It is an overstatement by all above to argue that this vote somehow means we don't have problems in dire need of solving. I invite all of you who are uselessly quibbling about it to start finding ways to ask the actual questions and stop using people's support for the schools and kids (which was, after all, the point shilled by Measure A and the Weekly editorial) as a way of whitewashing our problems and dumping on parents willing to stand up and try to solve them. That is exactly the behavior the parents considering NO were afraid of.

@an overstatement,
You wrote "14,000 PAUSD students have about 28,000 parents so 5% of PAUSD parents attended, tops."
Speaking of overstatements, that's a real doozy there, overstatement.

According to the polls taken after the film, the vast majority of the audience comprised high school student parents or incoming high school student parents. There were some students there, too.

We have around 4,000 high school students.

Although we may have a higher than average number of children per family,
Web Link
I could only find this data showing the number of children per family in the US, which we can conservatively/roughly say is 2.
Web Link

This equates to about 4,000 parents for 4,000 high school students, since a lot of households have multiple children. We are now is really rough numbers, but 27.2 percent of Palo Alto's households have children under 18. According to Wikipedia, Palo Alto was about 25,000 households in 2000, so around 6800 households total, but that includes elementary and middle school. High school students represent about 1/3 of the district's students, so roughly assuming that's 1/3 of the households puts the high school households somewhere just north of 2,000.
Web Link

The documentary tickets were sold (900) with a waiting list of over 600, within hours of the information being released. Later, there were additional seats opened, so the ultimate audience could have been much larger, but I don't know how large. Let's assume for the sake of argument, it was 2,000.

While certainly there were two persons from some households and even kids in attendance, given what I saw, and on a school night, one person from households was probably more the norm.

This means the audience had a major representation among the majority of households of high school students in Palo Alto. The instant polls taken afterwards showed an overwhelming support for the movie's message, and demonstrated widespread interest in change, not the status quo.


It is an overstatement to assume the audience giving the district money supported the status quo, when the YES argument often included claims that the district needed the money in order to support solving problems and change, and to give the district a chance. Now what is the message you are sending those, like some of the parents above, who held their noses and voted YES for that reason? Don't trust you ever again?

If you wish to bludgeon parents trying to solve problems after multiple clusters of children killing themselves, please next time express the issue you want answered in the poll or vote, and stop trying to hurt the community by reading things into a vote for school funding, the results of which were consistent with the polls the district took, even as the parents were doing the same soul searching.

Otherwise, you are just living proof of the ugliness and insularity that keeps us from solving problems.



Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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