Monday night update: State Administrator Vince Matthews put the parcel tax on the November ballot, despite the school board’s advisory measure to delay the initiative until it was vetted by the board and the public, possibly in 2009. Read the story here.
As usual, the news didn’t stop while I was away. I checked my mail this morning, still a bit foggy from vacation, to discover that the state administrator might put a parcel tax election on the Nov. 4 ballot! And that the special meeting to discuss the issue is scheduled for 4 p.m. this afternoon!
The proposed levy is titled the “Outstanding Teachers for all Oakland Students Tax.” It would cost property owners $120 each year (per parcel) for 10 years. According to the version posted on the meeting agenda, 85 percent would go to teacher compensation, and 15 percent to charter schools.
It seems as though the additional funding would ease ongoing contract negotiations by giving the district the means (and the directive) to give its teachers more competitive pay. But the Oakland teacher’s union appears poised to oppose the tax initiative. Betty Olson-Jones, the union president, left me a voice mail message saying “I am 99 percent sure that we’re going to take an opposing position.” One problem from the union’s point of view, she said, is the funds designated for Oakland’s 30-plus independently run, public charter schools. The union usually takes stances against charters, many of which are not unionized.
Some of the other reasons behind the opposing stance was outlined in a news release issued last week by the Alameda County Central Labor Council. For instance, the measure would only benefit teachers, not other district employees.
If you recall, charter school advocates complained last fall that their students didn’t stand to benefit from Measure G, the permanent parcel tax that passed with 79 percent voter approval in February. At the time, some board members said the district would consider including charters in future levy initiatives.
Should Vincent Matthews (who, as state administrator, still has control over the district’s finances) authorize the new tax measure? If he does, should the labor unions back it?
image from nafdigitalassets’ site at flickr.com/creativecommons