Los Altos district to vote on new parcel tax
$193 annually for six years to 'get over the hump' of recession
In an effort to make up for falling revenues from state and federal sources, Los Altos' elementary and middle schools are asking voters to approve a new $193 parcel tax this May.
Officials from the Los Altos School District said that an additional $16 per month is a reasonable price to pay to ensure that the schools continue to provide high quality educational programming.
"We're trying to safeguard our programs," said Randy Kenyon, assistant superintendent of business services for the district.
Kenyon said that in the past two years, the district has lost more than $4 million in funding — 10 percent of its budget. The new parcel tax would generate up to $2.3 million, and help the district "get over the hump of the recession."
Jay Gill, the parent of an eighth-grader in the school district and a member of the Los Altos Educational Foundation, supports the parcel tax, and echoed Kenyon's assessment of the current state of the district's finances.
"We've got to protect what we've got," Gill said. "There is no fluff to cut."
Both Kenyon and Gill said that residents living within the district should support local schools, regardless of whether they have children in the school system.
"I think there is a strong nexus between strong local schools and property values," Kenyon said, noting that homes within the district yield high appraisals in large part because of the quality of the area's schools.
There is a broader reason to support local schools, however, according to Kenyon: "Those children are our future leaders in business, government, industry."
Ron Haley, along with a group of like-minded locals, does not like the way the parcel tax is being presented.
A former CEO at several high tech companies throughout Silicon Valley, Haley said he isn't convinced that the district needs the money, and is even more skeptical about whether the district will spend the money wisely if the tax is approved.
"If they pass another parcel tax, all that's going to happen is what happened before," he said. There is currently a permanent $597 annual parcel tax in the district.
He said teacher salaries are unreasonably high, tenure is awarded too readily and that the district's unions continually make unreasonable demands and the district's "board rolls over and gives it to them."
Haley is organizing an opposition campaign that he said should be up and running in the coming weeks.
The Los Altos School District extends into parts of Mountain View. Kenyon said that about 25 percent of his district's student body — 1,092 students — live in Mountain View. The district's boundaries cover 2,766 parcels in Mountain View.