The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Down the Homestretch for Measure W: Multiple Views on the Ballot Measure

If Measure W passes, the good news is that Vanguard readers will have plenty of other things to read about and this blogger who sometimes acts as a reporter will not have to stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning to watch school board meetings.

Yesterday someone in the comment section asked me how much I was getting paid by the district, implying that I was a shill for them. I can understand how someone would feel that way. I have spent many many hours in the last year working on this blog and elsewhere to get Measure W passed.

Granted I have been talking about a parcel tax for far longer, but the first mention of Measure W was August 3, 2008 on this blog. Since then this will be the 17th article I have done mentioning Measure W.

Tomorrow, we will have a very special report on the Measure Q oversight committee. I encourage everyone skeptical of that process to read what Bob Schelen has to say.

Today, we are going to take a look at what a number of people and others are saying about Measure W.

The Davis Enterprise has letters from four of the five school board members supporting Measure W. I am not certain if Susan Lovenburg has already submitted a letter, but if she has not, do not read anything into it. She was out at the MU on Monday working hard trying to tell students about Measure W.

Board President Sheila Allen actually posted this on the Vanguard as well, yesterday.

I am going to post her entire post here for those who do not read the comment section.

She directed people to note that she is a strong supporter of neighborhood schools:
"Note especially the last paragraph. I am a firm supporter of neighborhood schools for many reasons that I have publicly presented during School Board meetings for the Valley Oak and the Emerson discussions. Please show your support by Voting Yes on W."
Here's the body of her letter:
"We moved to Davis because of the great schools. This is true for our family. I have received many emails from concerned citizens that begin with that very sentence. But, because of an on-going decline in state funding for public education the ability to continue our great programs is at stake.

This year the district cut $1.1 million dollars from the budget and still faced the specter of cutting an additional $2 million in program. With a budget that is over 80% direct student-related personnel, these dollars mean teacher jobs. Last spring hundreds of students, teachers, parents and community members lined up to ask that their program or position would not be cut. Luckily, the Davis Schools Foundation was able to rally the community to temporarily fill the gap for this school year only. Measure W will mean the teachers and our programs will continue for the next 3 years. Measure W means the Davis public schools will continue to be a great place to learn for all of our students.

On November 4 you have the opportunity to provide a solution. Coming to protest in March will not be a solution. The solution to save the teachers and program is now--and it is Measure W! Please vote yes on W."
Then Gina Daleiden and Tim Taylor:
"Clear and straightforward, if you support science, math, English, foreign language, music, social studies, librarians, athletics, debate, journalism and the teachers who enliven the minds of our next generation, then you support Measure W. The choice is clear.

We are all too aware of the state budget crisis and the impact that has on school funding. Local dollars are needed to maintain our quality programs here in Davis - among the best in the state - because state dollars simply do not.

You may find yourself asking, is the school district running leaner in these trying economic times? Absolutely. DJUSD spends more than 80 percent of our discretionary budget on expenses directly related to classroom instruction - teachers, counselors, principals and para-educators. Of the remaining percentage, we've cut $1.1 million, including eliminating one of the top three administrative positions, squeezing site budgets to levels difficult to sustain, and cutting operating costs. Our administrative budget falls in the lowest tier in the state, lower than most school districts, and even lower than many nonprofit organizations.

Despite all of this, the shortfall in funding is over $2 million annually. It is simply not possible to cut these funds without severely impacting the classroom and our kids. Vital programs and teachers will be lost. Our school system, our community and, most importantly, our children will lose."
Boardmember Richard Harris makes a plea that they need a two-thirds vote:
"To succeed, we need two votes in favor of Measure W for every one vote against it. Unlike the presidential race, where a candidate can win without gaining the most votes nationwide, or the local bond measure for community college facilities that can pass with only 55 percent of the vote, we need a super-majority of two-thirds support to pass Measure W. A simple majority will not be enough to save our schools.

Measure W is a true test of this community's willingness to take local responsibility in these uncertain economic times for key education programs like science, math, music and libraries.

We've reached out to voters during this campaign and we know a majority of voters, and overwhelmingly parents, support investing $10 a month in their community. A clear majority of voters definitely agrees with The Enterprise, the Chamber of Commerce and the Yolo County Taxpayers Association that Measure W is good for the schools and the community.

But there are many more potential voters in households without students attending Davis schools than households with children in the schools.

So parents, now is the time to get out of your comfort zone and go talk to your neighbors who don't have school-age kids. Tell them about Measure W, emphasize that strong Davis schools make our community strong and Davis a better place to live. Earn their support and then make sure they vote."
Do not take the word just for the elected members of the school board. A few weeks ago, the Sacramento Bee Endorsed a Yes on Measure W vote, citing: "APPROVING PARCEL TAX WILL PRESERVE A TRADITION OF GOOD SCHOOLS"

They write:
"Voters approved the last four-year parcel tax in November 2007, for $200 per parcel.

Since that 2007 parcel tax passed, however, the state's budget situation has worsened, and with it the situation in local school districts. The Davis school district faced $2.8 million in cuts this last year. A one-time fundraising effort by the Davis Schools Foundation staved off $1.77 million in cuts, but the district still had to chop $1 million out of the budget.

So now the Davis school board is back, asking voters to add $120 a year to the 2007 parcel tax to avoid program cuts. Measure W would raise $2.4 million a year for the next three years."
They continue:
"The additional $2.4 million a year would allow the Davis schools to preserve elementary science and music programs; preserve librarians at elementary and secondary schools; preserve class-size reductions for ninth- and 10th-grade English and math; preserve class periods for foreign language, music and physical education; and preserve extracurricular drama, debate, journalism and sports programs.

Measure W does not fund new programs.

If voters do not pass the parcel tax, the school district will have to cut $2.4 million from its budget."
They discuss a criticism of the parcel tax:
"The main criticism of parcel taxes in general is that because they are a flat fee on every parcel, lower-income households bear a disproportionate share of the burden. Davis mitigates that by making the parcel tax lower on apartments ($50, instead of $120 in Measure W) and by exempting property owners age 65 and older, who fill out a form and return it to the school district."
"Davis residents have a long history of extraordinary support for their schools, and every school in the district performs above state goals on the Academic Performance Index. To continue the tradition of excellence, Davis voters should vote "yes" on Measure W."
Here are a couple of fliers, in case you have not seen them. The first, is a flier sent out by the Davis Teachers' Association and I'm not sure where the other one comes from.

---David Greenwald reporting