On Thursday, vote-by-mail ballots landed in the mailboxes of residents in San Mateo County for the November 5 Consolidated Municipal, School and Special District Election.
In addition to governing board contests in the SMC Community College District, Sequoia Union High School District, Belmont-Redwood Shores School District, members to the Belmont City Council and board of directors to the Mid-Peninsula Water District, Belmont and Redwood Shores ballots includes one local tax measure---Measure R.
According to the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District, Measure R is a renewal of two existing school parcel taxes, combined into one payment of $174 per parcel per year. Funds from Measure R would be used to maintain existing local school funding.
The district’s current two parcel taxes, Measure G, ($96/parcel/year for 10 years), generates about $1.2 million annually, Measure U ($78/parcel/year for seven years), brings in about $950,000 per year.
If passed, Measure R would be a 10-year parcel tax starting July 1, 2015. If the measure fails, the current tax generated by Measure G ($96) would continue until June 30, 2015, and Measure U ($78) until June 30, 2016. The measure requires a measure requires support from two-thirds of the voters to pass.
District officials say the funds from Measure R would protect reading, writing, math and science programs, support school libraries, attract and retain teachers and maintaining a well-rounded curriculum, including music and art.
In addition, the district is counting on Measure R funds to help with the transition and technology upgrades to the new Common Core curriculum, which shifts to team collaborative learning, with less time spent on lectures and more of an emphasis on students using technology in classrooms.
Opponents and Proponents of Measure R speak out
Supporters say the parcel tax is more critical than ever before—student enrollment in the district has increased dramatically, and continues to rise. And cuts to the state budget means schools are educating more kids with less money. A recent mailer emphasizes that the measure does not increase taxes by one penny.
Although there was no argument against Measure R in the official ballot language, opponents of the measure have waged a campaign against the proposed tax stating that families shouldn’t have to make up for what the government fails to provide.
A flyer placed on the doorstep of voters throughout the district this week claims that Measure R is “expensive, unfair, and a cover up.” And in a Patch letter to the editor, Max Grogan-Crane states that school revenues are increasing, and Proposition 30 brings more money into the district.
Grogan-Crane's statements were met with a barrage of comments, mostly in favor of the measure:
"Not passing R will not make the state step up and pay our district money to maintain our schools--it will only end up hurting the students. We will lose such educational essentials as libraries and class size will increase again!" Sarah M.
"We are already paying this $174 on our property tax bills. Measure R merely asks that we renew this when it expires in 2015 and continue to pay it for another 10 years. So why not continue to help our schools?" Carmen M
"Unimpressive. That's the best word for the No-on-R campaign." Reader 721
However, several commenters supported Grogan-Crane's position:
"Why isn't anyone looking at the budget as is? Did the BRSSD spent $150k on a kitchen that no one uses? I do not doubt that the money is needed for the students. My issue is where is the accountability for needless expenditures." Belmont 96
"Home values are negatively affected more than 10% so households residing in those targeted areas for Nesbit have been hit hard - any real estate agent can explain that concept. Pushing the property values and Measure R connection is backfiring now." Vivian
Others are still weighing the pros and cons of the issue:
"I believe in public education and kids but want to make sure that my money is being spent wisely. Unlike others, I don't think it is "selfish" or "short sighted" to question how we spend millions of dollars." Estelle J.
For an impartial analysis of Measure R, click here.