SOQUEL -- Troy and Kathleen Chasey volunteer in their daughter's classroom at Soquel Elementary School every other week, which they say gives them a front-row seat on the struggles a class filled with 33 students faces.
The teacher and students are often overwhelmed and there's no opportunity for the children to break into small groups for specialized instruction due to the lack of a teacher's aide, Troy Chasey said.
The Chaseys have often debated sending their second-grader to a private school to ensure she learns core academic standards on top of extras such as music and art.
They're sticking with the neighborhood school because of close friendships their daughter Sofia has formed through the years.
Instead of going the private route, the Chaseys are leading the effort to pass a parcel tax for the Soquel Union Elementary School District to help improve the overall education at the district's five schools.
"There's a complete lack of resources," Troy Chasey said. "The teachers are completely overwhelmed with the huge numbers and the kids are distracted. My concern has always been getting the class sizes down to something that's reasonable."
Trustees voted unanimously at their meeting Wednesday to put an annual $90 per parcel tax on a mail-ballot only special election on May 7.
The tax is the district's solution to making up for $1.3 million in cuts from its $14 million annual budget by the state since 2008.
District officials say the estimated $800,000 the tax is expected to generate annually would be the key to providing the district's 1,900 students a "dynamic" education with the latest technology and "rich" arts and music programs.
Superintendent Henry Castaniada said there would be a "total renovation" of the K-2 curriculum if the tax passes, beginning with creating smaller class sizes.
"This gives us an opportunity to look at a vision that's not about surviving from year to year or hoping year to year," Castaniada said. "We want to look at proficiencies in technology starting at a younger age. Each child in third grade having an iPad is a possibility."
Chasey, 40, a graphic artist, is heading up the volunteer parent committee to campaign for the parcel tax. The effort will include walking precincts to talk with voters and creating flyers to mail and hand out.
The tax requires two-thirds approval to pass. There are 16,000 registered voters in the district, which includes Soquel and Capitola.
Registered voters will receive their ballot by mail in early April.
The ballots must be received by the Santa Cruz County Registrar of Voters by May 7.
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Editor's note: Troy Chasey is 40 years old. His age was incorrect in an earlier version of this article. This version has been updated with the correct age.