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LASD voters approve Measure GG

 

Election night results show that Measure GG, the Los Altos School District's $223 parcel tax, has met the two-thirds vote required to pass the measure.

The vote count as of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning shows that 9,373 district residents (70.2 percent) voted "Yes" on Measure GG, compared to 3,985 (29.8 percent) voting no on the measure. Twenty-eight out of the 30 precincts are included in the results, according to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website.

Measure GG campaign co-chair Shali Sirkay told the Voice on election night that she is "relieved" with the results following an exhaustive campaign over the last three months. Right up until the last minute, she said, the campaign team has been phone banking feverishly to pass the parcel tax.

"The public is showing a lot of faith in our schools," Sirkay said.

Measure GG effectively replaces the $193 Measure E parcel tax, which district voters approved back in May 2011. Measure E is set to expire in June 2017, and the school board sought to preserve the school funding through a new parcel tax measure in the November election. The parcel tax goes towards funding core school services, and was originally seen as a stop-gap measure during the 2008 recession. Even though the economy has rebounded, Los Altos school officials say the state funding has not come back, prompting a need to preserve the funding.

The additional $30 tacked onto the original amount will go towards funding programs at Bullis Charter School, which is charted out of Santa Clara County but operates within district boundaries.

The Los Altos School District relies heavily on parcel tax revenue for its annual budget. On top of Measure E, the district has relied on a larger, permanent $597 parcel tax, adding up to a total parcel tax of $790 on proper owners. Parcel tax revenue for last year totalled around $10 million, and makes up about 17 percent of the district's annual budget.

Measure GG is the smaller of the two taxes, and will generate about $2.5 million for district schools each year. In addition, Measure GG will generate about $300,000 in parcel tax money for Bullis. Likewise, all of the charter school's expenditures will be monitored by the district's Citizens’ Advisory Committee for Finance to make sure the taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately.

Los Altos School District joins the small number of school districts in the state that have decided to share local revenue -- whether it be parcel tax money or bond money -- with charter schools that happen to reside within the district's boundaries. Other school districts that share local revenue include San Francisco Unified, Oakland Unified, Livermore Valley Unified, Alameda Unified, and West Contra Costa Unified. Representatives from the California Charter School Association say it's becoming more commonplace for school districts to share parcel tax revenue with charter schools, and the association has stepped in with lawsuits to force school districts to share revenue.

In 2011, the Bullis community mostly abstained from campaigning for or against Measure E, but the election this year marked a big change of pace. Charter school families got involved in the Measure GG campaign early on, spending the last few months encouraging families and district residents to vote in favor of the parcel tax.

"The Los Altos School District has moved forward together," Sirkay said. "We sort of hit the ground running (in August) and we've had such a strong volunteer effort."

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