Under the advice of a consultant and with a unanimous mantra of "now is not the time," school board members opted not to move forward with a parcel tax at a special meeting Monday.
Castro Valley trustees heard a presentation by Brad Senden of the Center for Community Opinion that outlined responses from about 400 potential voters.
While results were overall positive regarding people's thoughts on the district, the survey showed that getting the needed two-thirds support would be difficult and only feasible at all if the tax is less than $50 per year.
That would translate to about $600,000 annually for the district -- a "drop in the bucket," said board President Kunio Okui.
"That's not the amount I had in my mind," he said. "With the effort it takes for the district, the board and administrators -- it's very time-consuming -- I'm not in favor of a parcel tax for that amount of money."
Senden agreed that it's a "fairly modest amount, but no less work to pass."
And there would be considerable work needed to rally support, he said.
Even after explaining the tax and why the money is needed to those surveyed, the group most likely to get behind the tax -- parents with kids in Castro Valley schools -- only mustered 66.4 percent support.
Senden said that indicates it's a poor time to ask voters for money.
"Parents are supportive, but they should be more supportive," Senden said. "The only thing out there to suppress support is the economy."
Trustees said residents might not realize the turmoil that has been caused by cuts at the state level because the district has been successful in mitigating impacts.
"We've been able to keep most music, most arts and things close to people's hearts," said trustee Jo Loss. "They're not seeing the catastrophic results of cuts that we're seeing across the state."
Superintendent Jim Negri said that despite the district's prudent spending, they've had to increase class sizes from 20 to 25 students, cut high school seventh period and all high school athletics funding -- sports are now supported by parents and through fundraising.
"It's a challenge," he said. "The year I got here, we cut six custodians. The average parent doesn't see what it means to cut six custodians, and by and large the general public doesn't see, either."
Trustees were all supportive of revisiting a parcel tax in the future, and Senden advised the board to reach out to the community to garner support between now and then.
"Over the next year, you need to connect the big-picture news to what's happening in classrooms," he said. "People may hear news, but not know what that means when they drive by a school where they don't have kids in anymore."
Contact Eric Kurhi at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.