Shore up funding for local schools and help warm up frosty relations between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School? That's the question facing voters, who are asked to approve a $223 parcel tax that will go toward funding core school services in the school district, which encompasses a portion of Mountain View.
If Measure GG passes, for the first time a proportionate amount of LASD's parcel tax funds will go toward Bullis Charter School, something that could go a long way toward healing divisions between the charter school and district.
It replaces Measure E, a $193 parcel tax that expires next June. Measure GG's $30 higher rate reflects the addition of funding for Bullis Charter School. Measure E raises about $2.5 million annually, which goes toward teacher salaries, academic programs, and science and technology initiatives. Measure GG, which expires in eight years, is expected to raise $2.8 million annually, $300,000 of which will go to Bullis.
LASD relies on parcel taxes for about 17 percent of its budget, thanks to the state's convoluted education-funding formulas and the relatively limited amount of commercial property tax revenue generated in Los Altos. Besides the soon-to-expire Measure E, district homeowners also pay $597 a year for a permanent parcel tax.
A cynic might say that including Bullis in Measure GG was a calculated move designed to boost voter support above the difficult-to attain threshold needed for parcel taxes. Without a two-thirds majority voting yes, the measure fails. The district's polling data shows it could be a very close vote.
An optimist would say that it's a refreshing sign of collaboration after years of friction that occasionally devolved into messy and expensive legal battles between the school district and the charter school.
We choose to be optimistic, and believe that the passage of Measure GG will go a long way toward reminding the community that the focus should be on providing the best possible public education for all of the district's students, rather than on turf battles between the adults.
The Los Altos District draws about 27 percent of its students from Mountain View, mostly in the San Antonio Road area. With so much housing development in the pipeline, the district's percentage of Mountain View students will almost certainly rise in the coming years. It's less likely that state funding will keep up, making parcel tax revenue even more vital to the high-performing school district.
The Voice recommends a yes vote on Measure GG.