Mountain View Voice

News - August 6, 2010

Foothill-De Anza to ask voters for new tax

Six-year parcel tax of up to $69 will help colleges make up for budget cuts

by Nick Veronin

Property owners in the local community college district will be asked to vote this fall on a parcel tax that would generate almost $42 million for Foothill and De Anza colleges, district officials estimated.

The district's board of trustees voted unanimously Monday to place a measure on the November ballot that, if passed, would raise almost $7 million a year, according to Becky Bartindale, a spokeswoman for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. Property owners within the district's boundaries would be taxed up to $69 per parcel annually for six years.

Both Foothill and De Anza colleges have undergone budget cuts totaling more than $20 million over the past two years, according to Bartindale. As a result, courses have been cut along with hundreds of faculty and staff positions.

In order to pass, the measure must receive two-thirds of the vote.

Bruce Swenson, president of the district's board of trustees, said he is hopeful that the measure will get those votes.

"Somewhere around 70 percent of our district has either gone to Foothill or De Anza, or has a family member that has," he has said.

In a phone survey of about 800 district residents, Swenson said 75 percent of respondents said they would support the measure.

Swenson said that the United States is falling behind other countries when it comes to providing higher education to its citizens. "We live in a knowledge economy," he said. "To retain our economic position in the world, we need to provide high-quality education to our students."

This measure will help the cash-strapped Foothill-De Anza serve more students and provide a better educational experience to the students it does serve, Swenson said.

"It will be of significant help to the district," he said. "It will help maintain core academic classes in science, math and writing, and also continue job training for health care professionals, such as nurses and paramedics, and prepare students for transfer."

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