Hayward teachers won't be seeing pink slips this year, but voters will find something else come June: a parcel tax on the ballot asking them to levy an annual $58 fee on property owners that will go toward schools.
Hayward Unified trustees Wednesday voted 4-1 to go forward with the tax measure, which, if passed, will generate about $2 million annually.
In a worst-case scenario in which voters shoot down both the local tax and a state tax measure also directed toward schools, the district would be facing an $8 million shortfall. If they both pass, the district will be "status quo," said Stanley Dobbs, HUSD's assistant superintendent of business services.
Dobbs said other districts are budgeting under the assumption that the state tax will fail and issuing pink slips as a precaution, but Hayward is going in a different direction.
"What if we went out and had layoffs worth $8 million, and then it passes?" he said. "We'd have $8 million worth of people sitting out on the street."
Dobbs said the district will have a contingency plan in place that won't involve cutting teachers, instead trimming through other means such as reducing facility costs and continuing the pursuit of more grant funding. "In a worst-case scenario, we'll be more efficient," Dobbs said.
Board President Jesus Armas has said the tax is necessary because of $26 million in state-level losses over the past three years that have resulted in "Draconian" cuts.
While the tax enjoyed support from a host of public speakers that included parents, teachers and union heads, dissenting board member Luis Reynoso reiterated what he has said before -- that the district "squanders" that much money each year, and the tax measure was put together in a "fast and sloppy" manner.
Holding an election will be costly, he said, with a minimum price of nearly $200,000.
"I want to make sure everybody understands what we are getting into," Reynoso said.
Superintendent Donald Evans said there is $100,000 budgeted for the election. Placing items on the ballot cost $54,000 and $70,000 in the past two elections, he said.
But that price tag went up this year, in part because voter pamphlets and polling materials are being printed in more languages. Election money cannot be recouped if the tax does not pass.
According to the proposed ballot language, funds would be used for math, reading, writing and science classes and labs; enhancing library services, technology and college prep programs; providing programs for all students to meet state academic standards; and attracting and retaining qualified teachers.
Trustee Lisa Brunner previously said there needs to be an audit of programs to find out what is and isn't working so money can be allotted effectively. Evans said Wednesday that the district has put out a request for bids for such an analysis and expects results in about six months.
The funds collected would "absolutely not" be subject to any future money grabs at the state level, Evans said.
Results of an October survey found enough public support to narrowly pass a parcel tax, although only if restricted to $58 per parcel.
The parcel tax would include provisions for an exemption for those 65 and older, a citizens' oversight committee and a guarantee that all the money be used in classrooms.