Will two-thirds of Oakland’s voters approve a parcel tax that would generate about $20 million a year for teachers and other school employees — and cost property owners $195 per year?
Will the teachers union, itself, back the measure this time around?
Troy Flint, a spokesman for the Oakland school district, said proceeds from the levy would amount to raises of about 6 percent for school staff (“teachers, teachers’ aides, safety officers and other student support staff,” as the summary reads ). The text of the Nov. 2 measure doesn’t spell out how those raises would be distributed.
I was away last week when the school board voted to call the election, but as my colleague Angela Woodall noted in her story, the timing is tricky. The Oakland City Council, which have laid off more than 85 cops so far to balance the budget, have put a $360-per-parcel tax on the same ballot.
If both measures are approved, property owners will have to pay an extra $555 each year in the midst of a deep recession.
Given the economic climate and the competition on the ballot, the school tax will likely need widespread support and a compelling campaign to pass. In 2008, a similar measure — a tax for teachers — failed by a thin margin. The teachers union campaigned against it, mainly because 15 percent of the revenue would have gone to the city’s publicly funded, privately run, non-unionized charter schools.
(Noel Gallo, the sole board member who supported the ill-fated Measure N, which was placed on the ballot by then-State Administrator Vince Matthews, cast the lone vote against this one. Touche!)
But this measure, too, would distribute some of the funds to charters, which educate more than 15 percent of the city’s public schoolchildren. And the union dropped out of the parcel tax coalition last fall, saying the charter school issue was a deal-breaker.