By Jim Steinberg Staff Writer
Created: 03/17/2011 05:14:02 PM PDT
FONTANA – The school board will hold a public hearing Monday on the possibility of developing an emergency educational tax to help soften the effects of the crisis in education.
In recent weeks, the school board has voted to potentially eliminate all 68 of the Fontana Unified School District’s counselors as well as 51 teachers and 26 out of 37 library specialists, close its adult school and suspend summer school next year.
Overall, the board has trimmed more than $26million from next year’s budget.
At its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday night, the board heard a presentation from San Francisco-based schooling financing consultant Dale Scott, who said the district “has the ingredients for success” in a parcel tax election.
Under Proposition 13, school districts are allowed to ask voters to approve a special tax on real estate property parcels, which would go toward school operations, Scott told the board.
If you go
What: Public hearing by school board on emergency education tax
When: 6 p.m. Monday
Where: John D. Piazza Education Center, 9680 Citrus Ave., Fontana
“The rub is that it requires a two-thirds majority of those voting to win approval,” he said.
A $96 tax per parcel would yield the district $4.1million per year, Scott told the board.
The law allows for the district to create an exemption for senior citizens, said Scott, who is founder and president of Dale Scott & Co.
Scott said that for the money from the tax to become available next school year, the district has to act quickly. And it has no time to conduct a voter survey.
Scott said that until recent years, the parcel tax was used primarily by small school districts in affluent communities.
As state funding for public education has dwindled, several large districts in Northern California have passed parcel taxes, he said.
Scott said the low Republican registration in the Fontana school district points to a higher potential for parcel tax success, but the relatively small number of permanent absentee voters – 31percent compared with a state average of 40percent – may create a larger hurdle in attempting a mail-only ballot election.
In lobbying for the board to proceed with a public hearing – which does not obligate the board to seek the tax – Leticia Garcia, board vice president, said “we need to be thinking about how to bring in new revenues. We have to be proactive.
“We all pay enough taxes, but it’s worth an extra $96 per year to me to have our kids get a good education.”
In casting one of the two votes against the public hearing, board member Gus Hawthorn said he could not ask residents to pay more taxes at this time.
Garcia’s motion passed by a 3-2 vote.
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