Foothill-De Anza planning parcel tax
Six-year tax would help with state cuts to community colleges
The local community college district is planning to place a parcel tax measure on the November ballot. The parcel tax would provide the Foothill and De Anza colleges with much needed funding after three years of state funding cuts, trustees said.
At a special meeting June 14, the board unanimously agreed to move forward into the planning and communication phase of the proposed tax.
Bruce Swenson, president of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District board of trustees, said the measure would cost property owners up to $69 per parcel annually for six years, generating an estimated $6.9 million for the cash-strapped district.
Currently, the district has no parcel tax on property within its boundaries.
Swenson said both colleges have experienced budget cuts totaling about $15 million each year for three years running. This year, Swenson added, the district did not receive funding for about 1,000 students and had to turn away several thousand more.
That is a bad equation for Silicon Valley, and its residents, he said.
"These are students, many of whom want to prepare to transfer to four-year schools," Swenson said. "These are students who want to upgrade their skills so they can work in a Silicon Valley job.
He said the district's focus should be on bolstering its math and science curriculum to keep up with that changing economy.
"It's critical for our economic development, but it's also critical for our social and political development to have an educated population."
Swenson said he believes all residents in the Foothill-De Anza district will agree that the district should never have to turn students away based on lack of funding, and he is confident that this message will be heard in the weeks before August 2, when trustees are scheduled to vote to place the parcel tax on the November ballot.
In the meantime, the district will provide the community with information on its financial condition and hear feedback on the proposed tax. Swenson said he is optimistic that about two-thirds of the district's constituency will be in favor of the tax — the threshold needed to pass the measure come November.
"Somewhere around 70 percent of our district has either gone to Foothill or De Anza, or has a family member that has," he said.
No one at the brief meeting spoke out in opposition to the board's motion.