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Apply Soon for Measure A Exemptions

The deadline to file for an exemption from the Alameda Unified School District’s Measure A parcel tax is June 30, 2014.

Under the terms of the ballot measure, the school district can grant two types of exemptions to Alameda residents:
Senior Citizen Exemption: The applicant must turn 65 years old on or before June 30, 2015, and own and occupy his/her property as a primary residence.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Exemption: The applicant must receive SSI and own and occupy his/her property as a primary residence.

If a resident received the Senior Citizen or SSI Exemption in 2013-2014 and is still the homeowner and currently resides at the same address, he or she does not need to renew your tax exemption. (It will automatically be renewed.)

If a resident sold a home and purchased a new home, however, he or she must re-file for a Senior Citizen or SSI Exemption for the new property.

The Measure A parcel tax rate is $0.32 per building square foot, with a maximum rate of $7,999.

Revenues raised by Measure A help fund the educational programs and activities specified in the ballot text, including small class sizes, neighborhood schools, enrichment classes (such as art, drama, and music), high school athletics and AP classes, technology, and innovative and magnet programs.

There are several ways to access the exemption forms:
- Electronically (senior citizen exemption forms are available online (on the district’s website); SSI exemption forms are online, as well.
- By telephone (call SCI Consulting Group at 800-273-5167 for an application by mail).
- In person at the AUSD offices (2060 Challenger Dr., Alameda) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday (summer hours).

Questions should be directed to the Parcel Tax Administrator: SCI Consulting Group at (800)273-5167.

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Bonta Hosts Alameda Town-Hall Meeting

Alameda City Councilman Rob Bonta, now serving as vice mayor of the city, is hosting a discussion and meeting with residents to exchange ideas regarding his first 100 days in office.

There will be a question and answer session as part of the forum.

Members of the public are invited to come to the meeting, which is set to take place from 6-8 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, March 25, at Cardinal Point at Mariner Square, 2431 Mariner Square Dr.

Light refreshments will be served, and Bonta asks that resident RSVP for the event, if possible, by sending an e-mail message to rob@robbonta.com.

Bonta says that he was a strong supporter of the recently passed school parcel tax, Measure A.

The city faces a number of significant challenges, including the need to fill top posts and come to grips with lawsuits filed by interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant and City Attorney Terri Highsmith, who were placed on paid administrative leave in December.

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Alamada Schools Celebrating Parcel-Tax Vote

The Alameda Education Foundation, a fund-raising group for special school programs and resources, is thanking the community for its passage of Measure A on March 8.

“By over a two-to-one margin, you showed your support for continued quality education in Alameda,” AEF said in a statement. “The fact that current economic conditions made this a difficult choice for many indicates our community’s willingness to sacrifice to ensure that Alameda students have the educational resources, programs and conditions they need for success.”

The Alameda Education Foundation says it especially wants to thank members of the business community that supported Measure A, which enjoyed more business support that the failed Measure E last year. “You, like us, realize that thriving schools are necessary for a strong community and a promising future for all of us,” AEF explained.

AEF also praised the Alameda SOS campaign committee for its “exceptional job of galvanizing the community to pass Measure A.”

According to the Alameda Country Registrar of Voters, the majority of Alamedans participated in the Measure A vote: 21,180 votes were counted, representing 50.9% of the Island’s 41,609 registered voters.

Some 14,200 ballots were sent in by mail, and about 7,000 ballots were filled out on election day at polling sites across town.

The “yes” votes totalled 14,342 — or 67.8% — and the “no” votes numbered 6,806, or 32.2%. The parcel-tax measure needed 66.6% or more votes to pass.

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Alameda Polls Open for Measure A Vote

Today is the day to vote in Alameda’s special election over Measure A, a new parcel tax that aims to support the Island school district.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8.

There are very heated arguments about the measure, as has been the case recently with other parcel-tax proposals.

The League of Women Voters of Alameda had to cancel its February 3 forum on the measure, as controversies arose over the format and content of the public discussion.

The league has posted the pros and cons it gathered Measure A online, though.

Each and every vote counts, since the Measure A parcel tax needs to pass with 66.6% or more of the votes.

Last summer’s Measure E votes were: 14, 415, or 65.62%, yes; 7,551, or 34.38%, no.

Today’s parcel tax vote should be another close one.

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Touching sacred cows: Alameda’s Measure A

Last week I wrote a column for the Alameda Journal about Measure A, a sacred cow of Alameda politics. I said that we ought to think about means of controlling growth that allow for thoughtful and comprehensive (rather than reactionary) planning. I wrote:

It is well within human ingenuity to craft laws that allow for the construction of apartments where it is appropriate and still protect handsome old houses. And it is folly to cling so tightly to a law passed out of fear and anger. It’s time for Alameda to show that it can protect what is valuable about its past at the same time as it embraces the future.

You can, of course, read the whole column here.

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Alameda “Save our Music” concert this Friday

This Friday, May 2, at 7 p.m. in Kofman Auditorium (in Alameda High) there will be a benefit concert to try to keep music in grades one, two and three in our district’s schools. The concert is brought to you by Bay Farm parent Lorri Garrett and a host of other hardworking volunteers in the Save our Music crew. You can buy tickets to the hip-happening event online here and also learn more about the class acts, including on- and off-island talent as well as many of our district’s bright-eyed third graders. If you can’t make the show, there’s also an online auction, with items including tickets to the San Francisco Opera, a $100 gift certificate to Scott’s Shoes and a drum head signed by Metallica.

Measure H
As always, Continue Reading

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Charter schools in Oakland, charter schools in Alameda

The Education Report‘s Katy Murphy has a new post (with some interesting discussion) on the bill written by Assemblyman Sandré Swanson to halt the creation of charter schools in Oakland. Assembly bill 2008 is relevant to Alameda because, as a district like Oakland with declining enrollment, our town is poised to face, on a lesser scale of course, some of the financial challenges brought by the creation of charters.

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Alameda protests: Let the coverage begin

Tomorrow’s Alameda-based Public Education is too Valuable to Throw Away campaign has already hit the airwaves. ABC 7′s evening news piece (click to watch!) highlights ad agency Wrecking Ball‘s involvement as well as all the other donated resources behind this massive awareness effort. Look for more excitement tomorrow.

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Note to Alameda City Council: stand up for our schools

I for one think it’s time our city leaders—Mayor Johnson, Vice Mayor Tam, and council members Matarrese, deHaan, and Gilmore—step forward and come out loud and clear in support of a parcel tax. It’s not enough, I don’t think, to support it quietly. Our city council needs to take the lead in explaining to people—to all Alamedans, not just those with kids in the system—why we need to pull together in support of our schools. It’s a quality of life issue. It’s a property value issue. And it’s a moral issue.

I know we would prefer, of course, that Governor Schwarzenegger had not proposed cutting so much from schools. And I know we would prefer, too, that (even before these cuts) California did not fund education so poorly (we rank near last in the country in per student spending). We know, too, that the parcel tax is not a complete solution, that it won’t solve all our problems with funding and make them go away for good. But passing Measure H is something we can do now to help to make sure our Alameda students have a chance at that American dream that so many of our relatives, however many generations back it may be, came here looking for. So step up, city council, lead the way.

[Ed. (that's me, Eve) note: Hat tip to Vice Mayor Lena Tam who already signed on to the official ballot argument in support of Measure H. (Along with senior/activist Nick Cabral, Harbor Bay Realty's Dennis Pagones, Retired Encinal Principal Bill Sonneman, and School Board Pres. Bill Schaff.)]

[Another Ed. note: A happy wave to council member Frank Matarrese who says he fully supports the parcel tax and looks forward to it being on the agenda for discussion at the council's first April meeting.]

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And below, for your enjoyment, are pictures of some of the people who showed up Saturday morning at Longfellow to put together signs and begin distributing them in support of public schools in Alameda. (Pictured right is Cynthia Marsh, a first grade teacher at Edison.) For even more pictures, go to Modern Muse.

march 15 kase rallycynthiamarsh

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This weekend in Alameda: poppies, rally and charrette

califpoppyI am delighted to report that the first California poppy of the season has blossomed in my yard—which I, for one, take as a clear sign that spring has arrived. While many of you in sunnier island spots have had poppies for weeks, yesterday’s was my first, and I am pleased: I quite like those bright-orange, drought-tolerant (drought-happy, even) flowers.

That said, many of y’all may want to attend Saturday’s volunteer rally and training (Longfellow, 10-1) sponsored by the Alameda Education Foundation and Keep Alameda Schools Excellent. You can learn more about an upcoming campaign to raise awareness of school funding issues (brought to Alameda pro bono by Wrecking Ball) and learn more facts and figures about the parcel tax.

Should you opt not to go the school event, there’s always Saturday’s city-sponsored Community Visioning Charrette brought to my attention by John over there at Stop, Drop and Roll. A charrette you might say, of course! But I, for one, had to google-dictionary that baby. Nonetheless, it sounds like it’s a meeting (Alameda Free Library, 9-1) to discuss a development plan for Park Street north of Lincoln, now that the sales-tax-generating car dealerships are going. As we all know—and as John points out—an ounce of planning is worth three pounds of second guessing/complaining.