South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education members have passed a resolution in support of a Constitutional amendment to lower the parcel tax voter threshold to a super majority – 55 percent – from two-thirds required that is currently in place for elections.
“There’s an effort by a group of senators to amend the Constitution to have that lowered,” explained SPUSD Superintendent Geoff Yantz. “Our board felt that 55 percent is a fair representation of the voters. It’s reasonable to have a tax passed within a community of 55 percent. To achieve a two-thirds majority vote is very difficult.”
Yantz said a lot of school districts missed the two-thirds majority threshold by a miniscule of votes. “The City of Burbank in a recent election missed passing by about 90 votes,” he said. “They’re having to layoff and cut programs as a result. The first parcel tax election here [in South Pasadena] passed by only 74 votes, or something like that. It was a very thin margin.”
Had the parcel tax not passed, Yantz said it would have been a “very different experience here in the schools.”
In support of the resolution and other school districts looking at a parcel tax as a revenue stream, Yantz said 55 percent “would make it more reasonable to accomplish it.”
He insists school districts are in need of securing reliable sources of revenue “and right now the state is woefully underfunding public schools, so it’s important that we’re able to secure those resources.”
According to Ed Source, a website which highlights strategies for student success, about one in eight school districts in California have passed parcel taxes.
Since 2002, Ed Source shows that 266 of 427 proposed parcel taxes in California have passed.
Yantz stressed that many of those that failed came within a percentage or two of the 66.7 percent required. Had the threshold been 55 percent, 91 percent – 389 of 427 – would have been successful.
Support from the South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education of 55 percent will now be sent to local elected officials while helping to lay the groundwork to push legislation on the lower threshold.