Information regarding the November ballot proposal to fund local schools is presented below in question and answer format.
Q: Why did the Board of Education decide to ask for voter approval of a temporary parcel tax now?
A: The decision to call for a parcel tax election was based upon the fact that the Long Beach Unified School District continues to face huge cuts in state revenue. LBUSD must cut as much as $100 million during the next two years because of multi-billion-dollar state cuts to education. The school district already has cut tens of millions of dollars from its budget since 2003 and has relied upon rainy-day reserves to prevent damage to classroom instruction. Last April, the school board cut an additional $24 million from its approximately $750 million operating budget. The April cuts included a significant reduction in summer school offerings and the elimination of the Hi-Hill outdoor science camp that elementary school students had attended since 1949 in the Angeles National Forest. The school district has stopped hiring new teachers, stopped filling vacancies that occur due to retirements and resignations, cut 50 jobs from its administration building alone, eliminated summer programs that keep kids off the streets, and implemented many other reductions in programs and services. All school district employees were recently notified that they may face reduced compensation in 2009-10.
Q: How much would the parcel tax cost?
A: The cost would be $7.67 per month, or $92 per year for each parcel.
Q: Has the school district ever called for a parcel tax before?
A: No. The authors of Prop. 13 recognized that their proposition to limit property tax increases might result in insufficient funding for public schools, so they allowed for local elections requiring a two-thirds majority of voters. The November measure will be the first such parcel tax election in the 124-year history of the Long Beach Unified School District.
Q: How long would the parcel tax last?
A: Five years.
Q: Who can vote on the measure?
A: All registered voters within the boundaries of the Long Beach Unified School District may vote on the Nov. 3 measure. The school district boundaries include Long Beach, portions of Lakewood, Signal Hill and Catalina Island.
Q: Who would handle the funds that this measure would generate?
A: The funds would be handled locally by the Long Beach Unified School District, with citizens’ oversight.
Q: What about the Measure K school bonds that voters approved last November? Can we use those funds to balance our budget?
A: Measure K school bonds can only be used for school modernization and new school construction, not for academic programs. Parcel tax funds, however, may be used for academic programs.
Q: For apartment complexes, would the tax be levied per apartment or per parcel?
A: The tax would be levied per parcel only, not per apartment.
Q: What would the parcel tax funds be used for?
A: Funds would go toward:
• Maintaining vocational/career technical job training and college prep programs;
• Preserving essential high quality academic offerings, including English, math, social studies, history, computer technology and science;
• Preserving arts, music and sports programs;
• Preserving after-school programs to keep children off the streets and away from gangs, drugs and crime;
• Protecting property values and the taxpayers’ investment in education.