SAN LEANDRO — Unfavorable results from a feasibility study conducted earlier this month coupled with the state of the economy prompted school board members on Tuesday to ditch plans for a parcel tax this year.
The San Leandro Unified School District will now focus on placing a possible parcel tax before voters during a special election in either March or June 2009.
"I am frustrated and disappointed," trustee Stephen Cassidy told fellow board members Tuesday night. "I very much wanted to see us go forward."
San Leandro schools are expecting a $3.6 million loss in revenue next school year, as outlined under the governor's proposed spending plan to mitigate the state deficit. Officials have been considering a parcel tax to help bring a steady stream of revenue to the cash-strapped district.
About 58 percent of voters surveyed in the feasibility study said they would support a November parcel tax, which falls below the required two-thirds super majority needed to pass.
"Districts expect the (greater) body of infrequent voters to be supportive, and in most surveys that is true," said Brad Senden of The Center for Community Opinion, a San Ramon-based firm that conducted the study for the district. "But those voters in this survey were actually less supportive."
Based on his research, Senden said he recommended no more than a $59 tax increase for any measure the district may pursue in the future. Anything higher, he said, would be pushing the limits of voters' tax tolerance and would likely fail.
More than 400 registered voters were interviewed in the study conducted from June 2-8. The results remained consistent with previous studies done in 2004 and 2005, which also revealed that the total percentage of voters in favor of a parcel tax did not reach the two-thirds requirement.
The district narrowly failed in its most recent attempt at a parcel tax in April 2006, with 60.8 percent voting in favor of the measure.
Cassidy said an "unnecessary" labor dispute between teachers and the district that lasted much of this past school year may be behind the unfavorable study results. Still, any funding the district would receive from a successful measure — whether put before voters in November, March or June — would not be realized until July 2009, Senden said, citing the state's property tax cycle.
"We have not lost a dime as a result of not going forward," said Ray Davis, board president. "The most important thing now is to work together."
Davis' comments were echoed by all school board members.
Such talk appears to be wishful thinking, however, as teachers last week released a no-confidence vote in Superintendent Christine Lim.
"Even though I think it is vital to get a parcel tax passed, I am pessimistic about its chances for success (in the future)," San Leandro Teachers Association President Jon Sherr said to trustees. "We need leadership that can communicate a vision of what is possible. Essentially what I am saying is, we need new leadership."
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