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School leaders to lay out parcel tax framework Tuesday

Submitted by on 1, November 8, 2010 – 9:46 amNo Comment

Alameda Unified School District administrators will lay out the framework of a new parcel tax Tuesday that would seek to preserve neighborhood schools and small class sizes and a list of other programs parents and community members said they want the schools to keep offering.

Administrators won’t offer a recommendation on any specific dollar amount for the tax, which would replace the soon-to-sunset Measure A and Measure H taxes, until November 23. But they will lay out a number of other key details, a presentation to be offered to the Board of Education at its meeting Tuesday shows.

The current proposal would be for a tax based on building square footage, to be offered at the same rate for residential and commercial properties. Parcels with no buildings on them would be taxed at a to-be-determined flat rate, and school officials are recommending a cap for buildings past a certain size. The term of the tax would be seven years and would start on July 1, 2011 if voters approve it. It would feature an exemption for seniors and disabled people receiving Social Security disability benefits.

District officials are also recommending that the tax pay for specific programs at specific amounts, including elementary school class sizes of 25 students per teacher; maintenance of neighborhood elementary schools; art, music and high school athletics programs; closing the student “achievement gap,”; counselors; adult education; technology; and retaining qualified teachers.

The tax would also contain money for secondary school restructuring, charter schools and magnet programs. And it would pay for accountability measures designed to show it’s being distributed correctly.

It also would contain emergency provisions for spending the money if state funding levels change or the district experiences a severe fiscal emergency, though the money would still only be used for the listed programs.

The school board is set to get final recommendations on a parcel tax on November 23 and to vote on whether to place one on the ballot on November 30. District leaders have been saying they’d like the tax to qualify for a March ballot.

Administrators will also talk about school closure and consolidation options at Tuesday’s meeting, and they will also offer a list detailing $11 million in cuts they’d make over the next two years to keep the district’s books balanced in the event a parcel tax doesn’t pass and no additional funding is found. They will also discuss a long-term lease with the city for operation of the district’s swim centers and sports fields.

The school board’s meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

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