|School board to shape parcel tax on Thursday|
The stage for a parcel tax has been ready for months, and on Thursday evening the Cabrillo Unified School District will likely give the green light.
All the school board members have already voiced support for a June parcel tax. But the tough decision they have to make on Thursday is to gauge how much of a tax Coastside voters will stomach.
Selling any tax measure to scrupulous voters is always an uphill battle, but the school district’s quest for a parcel tax this year is a new game of desperation. Voters have rejected a tax to help local schools five times in recent memory, and at face value, an attempt to push another tax during a recession seems to defy logic.
But school advocates are hoping the economy and its brutal cuts to California schools will help stack the deck this time around. Cabrillo schools are facing a $2.5 million reduction, and the district has highlighted a list of cutbacks that will invariably hurt education.
The district’s proposed cuts taps the shoulders of some active parent groups on the Coastside, reminding them what’s at stake. If the tax doesn’t pass, will the school district have to close Kings Mountain Elementary? Could it be forced to eliminate the last sport stipends at the high school?
And that makes the district very sensitive to any allegation that there’s fat left to trim from schools. Over the last two weeks, the district pulled a U-turn on a plan to give salary increases to two administrators who would be taking on the job duties of a retiring employee. Superintendent Rob Gaskill initially defended the increases, saying the district was ultimately saving $130,000 by downsizing its admin team. But on Monday he publicly retracted the proposed raises, noting they had no community support.
The school board will weigh its local support against its need on Thursday. For a Super Bowl analogy: if the school board goes for $100-per-parcel tax or less, they’re doing a handoff. Something in the $100- to $175-per-parcel range is a short pass. Any higher and it’s a Hail Mary.