By Mike Myslinski
Despite hard economic times, California voters approved many parcel taxes and school bonds at the polls Nov. 3 — and CTA campaign support made a huge difference in electing school board members backed by local teachers.
Where CTA provided campaign funding and other support to chapters, the success rate was 75 percent. Ninety of the 120 local school board candidates supported by CTA won their races; voters passed four of six parcel taxes that CTA backed.
In the Bay Area, CTA recommended Lt. Gov. John Garamendi to fill the seat of Ellen Tauscher in Congressional District 10, and he won with nearly 55 percent of the overall vote. Tauscher resigned in June to take a State Department job.
“Teachers made their voices heard in this election by securing more funding to save education programs and to build and renovate schools,” says CTA President David A. Sanchez. “The overwhelming success of so many school board candidates who were endorsed by educators means that more districts will listen to educators and work with them to keep cuts away from the classroom in the difficult months ahead for the state.”
Overall, seven of the 11 parcel taxes on local ballots across the state were passed by the required two-thirds margin, notes State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. Two of the failed parcel taxes received more than 55 percent of the vote. Both CTA and O’Connell support SCA 6 by state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) to lower the parcel tax approval threshold (currently two-thirds, about 67 percent) to 55 percent, the same as required for school construction bonds.
“Local communities need to generate much-needed funds for staff, libraries, sports, arts — all the important programs that are being decimated by the deep budget cuts to our schools this year,” says O’Connell. “I believe it’s critical that the 55 percent approval threshold also be applied to parcel tax measures.”
It was a close win for one Marin County school district. Measure A passed with 68.13 percent yes in the Lagunitas Elementary School District. The extension for eight years of the $325 annual parcel tax will fund smaller class sizes, library services, counseling, science and music classes, and other school programs that are threatened by state education cuts.
Other CTA-supported wins include the passing of Measure C in the Mill Valley School District, a $60 million school bond to renovate schools; and the passing of Measure I in the Albany School District in Alameda County, a $149 annual parcel tax to generate $1.2 million annually to help counter recent district cuts of $4.2 million. Albany voters also backed Measure J, which stabilizes existing school funding while maintaining funding for science, technology and foreign language classes. Both measures were supported by the Albany Teachers Association.