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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Measure W Wins with an Overwhelming 75% of the Vote; Measure N Goes Down

Measure W needed two-thirds majority to pass, instead it got three-quarters majority. All along, I thought it was headed to a very narrow win, instead it won by an overwhelming majority. With 100% of the precincts reporting, Measure W received just under 22,000 votes on the yes side compared to just 7000 votes on the No side. It is an overwhelming mandate for continued high quality education in Davis.

In the coming days, I will speak to what this means and what it does not mean. Right now, let us just say that the people of Davis have spoken in a way that the few on the blog who have been dissenters all along cannot speak. Just as the people stepped up last spring to prevent disaster, the voters have stepped up to do the same. There will not be teacher layoffs, not this year, not in this school district.

Meanwhile, I would be loathe to mention that the Charter City concept rightly went down to defeat and back to the drawing board. The solace that backers of a better charter might take is that it was a narrow defeat, at least in comparison to the victory of W. Just 2000 votes separated yay from nay. And so, if Councilmember Lamar Heystek and Stephen Souza are so inclined, we can have a real public process this time and put a good measure on the ballot, that all of us can get behind. Measure N was not that measure.

But this morning belongs to Measure W and its backers. The Vanguard spoke by phone last night when it was not certain that W had passed, but it looked like it would.

Janet Berry has twice saved this schools district. First as the head of the Davis Schools Foundation and then as the Co-Chair of the Yes on Measure W committee.
"I am encouraged by the early returns and the fact that the community is really coming together and showing that it values education."
School board member Gina Daleiden who called me around 5 pm to tell me that they had won this election, but she did not want that said at the time with three hours to go before the ballots even closed. She told me at midnight last night:

"I'm thankful that we live in a community that truly values education. When times are difficult our community steps up and supports our children and our schools. "

She then added:
"This one of the broadest coalitions I've ever seen behind a campaign. I think that that's quite a testament to the school support that our community gives to education and our schools. "
She pointed out the support of the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Business, Yolo Taxpayers Association, all of the PTAs, the Realitors, the Aggie, the Sacramento Bee, the Enterprise, the Vanguard, you name it.

Finally after 1 pm last night, the Vanguard spoke with District Superintendent James Hammond.

First, the Vanguard asked the Superintendent how he felt at this time:
"With the preliminary numbers, I'm obviously encouraged. I am definitely feeling good about our ability to weather the financial instability of the state and try to at least protect certain programs and protect any significant cuts that would affect the district in the future. Obviously there are no guarantees, because we now have to wait to see what the January budget from the governor states. But we're definitely in the position to take local control of the programs that our community is accustomed to having. "
The Vanguard then asked him what the future held with the prospects for the state budget looking very bleak in the foreseeable future:
"We obviously are going to have to keep a very close eye on how the state's budget is going to create a local impact for us here in the district. We definitely want to make sure that we have a good understanding of the revenues that the state is following short on in its projections if any midyear cuts are forced upon us. Also at the same time, try to build a reserve to try to be able to spread it over a multiyear budget we are required to submit."
Finally, the Vanguard asked him if there was a possibility with a bad budget forecast of future parcel taxes, a possibility he immediately and clear discounted.
"You know, I don't see that being a realistic meaneuver any time in the very near future. We've already gone to our community two years in a row , but obviously that's ultimately a board decision. In the near foreseeable future, I don't see that being a consideration."
The people of the district have shown overwhelming support once again for the district and for education. However, it should not be viewed as any kind of blank check. More than a year ago, many people eventually voted for this measure because they believe in education and have always voted to support education. But there seemed from so many I talked to, mixed feelings about a number of topics.

We will talk about this later in the week. In the meantime, the district deserves not so much to celebrate but to take a collective breath. It has indeed been a very long year for the district and the district with this vote survives though it will not prosper, not with the governor already threatening additional cuts and the people of Davis about tapped out.

---David M. Greenwald reporting