I can’t imagine spending a year of my life trying to come up with a school parcel tax measure that is palatable to Oakland’s edu-political extremes, but some brave souls have done just that. And, believe it or not, the democratic process behind simply crafting the ballot measure has yet to run its course.
Maybe you can help the parcel tax coalition and the Oakland school board (that, or further muddy the waters!), by opining on the following points that are still up for debate. That is, if you think the school district should float another parcel tax to boost the compensation of its employees in the first place.
Should the measure…
a) go on the June 2010 ballot (more expensive, fewer voters, but it would take effect more quickly if it passed) or on the November 2010 ballot?
b) be a flat tax ($195 per parcel, which would generate an estimated $20 million per year), or should property owners be taxed based on the size of their property (10 cents per square foot, which would generate an estimated $26 million annually)?
c) give publicly funded, independently run charter schools a fixed percentage of the tax revenue, or a proportional share of the dollars that might flex over time (In other words, if charters educate 17 percent of the city’s public school children, they’d receive 17 percent of the money; if enrollment rises or falls over the years, they’d receive more or less, accordingly)?
d) allow charter schools to spend the money however they see fit — not just on employee compensation?
The board finance committee has directed district staff to create two proposals: One with a flat rate, and one with a square footage rate (which the teacher’s union apparently would prefer, although the union dropped out of the parcel tax coalition this fall, saying it wouldn’t support a tax that benefitted charter schools).
I watched the video of the committee’s discussion online, and it seems likely that the tax will benefit all employees in OUSD, not just teachers.
Here’s what David Kakishiba, the board member who also co-chaired the parcel tax coalition, had to say at the meeting:
“As we go to the voters, what’s very clear is that there’s no way we can win unless everybody is united in supporting a given measure, whatever it may be…. While it’s not perfect for everybody, I hope we move forward because this will be a major infusion of resources while the state is hacking us to a comatose state.”
By the time my voter information guide lands on my doorstep, I’m sure this measure will read like poetry.