FREMONT — With their eyes set on a parcel tax, the school board this week unanimously approved spending up to $105,000 on consultant fees, public outreach and a poll to determine when and how much money to ask of voters.

At a time when trustees face a deficit of as much as $27.6 million for next year and have approved cuts that could lead to increased class sizes, elimination of science and physical education programs, and districtwide reductions in salaries, stipends and the work year, board members Wednesday underscored the value of investing in work that could lead to a future revenue stream.

"It's hard for us to take money out of undesignated funds right now, but you have to look at the return," trustee Ivy Wu said. "We will get a parcel tax passed."

Added board President Lara York: "It's absolutely our duty as the leaders of this district to go to the voters and ask, because we haven't asked them. ... We need to be able to (hear from them) with their vote."

For a parcel tax to pass, two-thirds of voters must approve it. A number of parents have expressed their support of a tax, and the 1,800-member teachers union repeatedly has said it would endorse such a measure.

In addition to a possible revenue stream, the school board discussed whether early retirement packages would save the district money.

Projections by the consulting firm Keenan Financial Services indicate that the district would lose as much as $2.57 million over five years if it offered an early retirement program, but the district's employee groups questioned the figures and said they believe the district could save money.

The board is scheduled to vote March 24 whether to offer early retirement incentives.

Contact Linh Tat at 510-353-7010. Follow her at Twitter.com/Linh_Tat.