On Saturday morning, September 17th, the Pacifica Democrats Club will host a Measure L Local School Parcel Tax Forum at its monthly breakfast meeting, scheduled to be held in the rear banquet room of the Sharp Park Golf Course Restaurant, Hwy 1 and Sharp Park Blvd, in Pacifica.
Kalimah Salahuddin, mother of three school age children and campaign manager for the "Yes on L" campaign, as well as being president of Saving Pacifica Schools, a political action committee dedicated to preserving the quality of education in Pacifica schools, will share the Measure L Forum with Matt Levie, a professional video and film editor, who also teaches Junior Achievement to fifth graders at Sunset Ridge school. They will discuss the need for both the renewal and increase of the local school parcel tax, originally called Measure N in 2008, but now known as Measure L in the upcoming November 8, 2011 election.
In 2008, the local school parcel tax was passed because the state threatened to cut the Pacifica School District's budget by a million dollars...a move that would have been the elimination of a critical number of programs and teachers in the Pacifica School District (PSD). The Pacifica community refused to let that happen. The community came together and passed a funding measure to support Pacifica schools. The students, teachers and district leaders continued to work hard to achieve educational excellence. The local funding, which the state cannot touch, helped attract and retain qualified teachers, support math and science programs and aid struggling students. Today, every school in the Pacifica School District maintains an API score well above 800, the state's target for academic performance. The latest API Score is 845.
One result of this attained level of academic performance in the PSD is the fact that while other school districts continue to lose population, it has been reported that the Pacifica School District is growing. The schools are attracting new families to Pacifica, which helps keep property values stable. However, this 845 API score is a remarkable achievement by the students, because the Pacifica School District remains one of the poorest funded school districts in San Mateo County, with a current per pupil funding of $4,982 in 2011, down from a per pupil funding of $5,531 per pupil funding in 2007.
The combination of fundraising efforts and volunteer labor, by both PSD parents and other community members, have greatly contributed in helping to retain programs and teachers who, in turn, have helped the PSD students to attain the current levels of academic achievement. However, in light of the constant shrinking of revenues, other sources of funding, such as those that come from local parcel taxes are of fundamental importance.
Since 2008, the state has kept slashing--it has cut more than $1.7 million from Pacifica's elementary and middle schools during the past four years. Also, as federal stimulus funds expire in the upcoming year, the district stands to lose more than $500,000 in current funding, meaning potentially more significant cuts to academic programs, as well as the additional potential loss of great teachers in the district. The local school parcel tax funding measure, which at this point, is a small percentage of the school budget, but a critical one, is up for renewal on November 8th.
If passed, the parcel tax, based on an unanimous decision by the PSD School Board on August 9th, will be increased from $96 a year to $118 a year and extended until 2017. It's reported that this new tax would replace the old one before it expires, but there would not be two taxes levied at once. Seniors over 65 years old can continue to receive an exemption and revenues from the tax will still be under the watchful eye of the Pacifica School District Citizen's Oversight Committee.
To learn more about how to apply for a senior exemption, please contact the District Office at 650-738-6600.
The renewal must receive a two-thirds majority approval by voters on November 8th. The new tax would generate a much needed $1.2 million annually for a variety of needs such as core academic programs in math, science, reading and writing and the retention of qualified teachers and staff. Additionally, the money will go to various areas of concern, including library programs and classroom computer instruction, as well as programs for struggling students, among others.
All members of the general public are invited. It is not necessary to be either a club member or a Democrat to attend.
A full breakfast is available for $12; continental breakfast for $6; coffee for $3. Doors open at 9:00 a.m. Seating is between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. and runs until 11:30 a.m. For any questions or to RSVP, please call 415-246-0775 or email email@example.com.
Correspondent - Pacifica Tribune