"This campaign is absolutely the most critically important thing I could be doing with my time," said Thayer, a PTA executive board member and mother of four children who attend Fairmeadow Elementary School and Gunn High School.
Yuen, whose family immigrated to the United States from Taiwan when he was in second grade, said his father instilled in him "a need to pay back, to fulfill a lot of the things we got growing up in the United States." He is the father of four boys.
Stevens, a Stanford resident whose two children attended Nixon Elementary School, Terman Middle School and Gunn High School, said parcel-tax campaigners aim to achieve the twin goals of uniting the community and "reminding ourselves why our schools are so successful."
Noting the state financial crisis and the fact that parcel-tax funds are completely locally controlled, Stevens said, "At this time, this district should continue to represent what public education can be at its best."
The co-chairs said the campaign will be called Support Palo Alto Schools 2010, and that it will launch a website, supportpaloaltoschools2010.org, by next week.
The proposed tax would replace the current parcel tax and increase it by $96 a year. The current tax generates about $9.4 million a year, about 6 percent of the school district's operating budget.
Like the current parcel tax, the proposed replacement would last for six years and have an optional waiver for seniors.
Palo Alto resident Roberta Stone spoke against the proposed tax, which does not allow a waiver for low-income homeowners.
"I believe the goals of this parcel tax are very important and admirable, but I don't believe the means for achieving that goal are ethical," Stone said. "A flat tax of close to $600 places a very significant and harmful burden on the low-income residents of the city, the homeowners who are low-income or very low-income."
In response, district staff members said state law does not allow them to offer a waiver of the parcel tax for low-income residents.
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