SAN LEANDRO -- San Leandro schools, which receive less state money per student than any other district in Alameda County, are asking city residents to approve Measure L, a $39-per-year parcel tax, with the money to be spent in the classroom.
"This is a local tax that stays right here. I know it won't get taken away by the state," said Deborah Cox, a San Leandro parent and co-chair of Yes on Measure L.
School board president Morgan Mack-Rose said that when the state's post-Proposition 13 funding formulas were created in the 1970s, San Leandro had a low residential property tax rate thanks to a highly successful industrial base. The formula was set low at the time and has not changed.
Mack-Rose added that because San Leandro has no parcel tax, it has less money to spend on students than neighboring districts with such levies, including Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley and Hayward.
"Our students deserve to have the programs and services that students in neighboring districts have. Measure L lets San Leandro prioritize its kids, even if Sacramento won't," she said.
The proposed levy, which would cost a homeowner 75 cents a week, would generate an estimated $2.4 million yearly. It will appear on the November ballot and needs a two-thirds majority to pass.
The money would be spent on things such as music, art, athletics and libraries, Cox said. None of money would be spent on administrative salaries.
If the parcel tax is approved,
The state has slashed funding to the San Leandro schools by more than $12 million over the past five years.
"People have finally started to understand and believe that Sacramento is failing our children, that year after year, they keep taking away money from our local schools," Cox said.
San Leandro voters have passed two bond measures in recent years: Measure B in 2006, a $109 million school facilities bond, and Measure M in 2010, a $50.1 millions sports facilities bond.
San Leandro school district's last parcel tax measure failed six years ago. Although a majority of voters, 61 percent, supported the levy, it fell short of the two-thirds approval needed.
Measure L has been endorsed by the San Leandro Teachers Association, Mayor Stephen Cassidy and the Chamber of Commerce.
"We have to get our schools out of the fiscal hole that Sacramento has put them in. We have to provide new funds for them to shine," Cassidy said.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.