In a recent vote, voters in the Los Altos School District have overwhelmingly approved a new $295 parcel tax with a resounding 75% majority, surpassing the required two-thirds majority for passage.
The final tally showed 6,401 votes in favor (75.1%) of Measure A, with 2,116 votes against (24.8%). The measure received 720 more votes than needed to secure victory. Measure A replaces the existing $223 parcel tax and introduces an additional $72. Furthermore, the tax is structured with annual increases of 4% and is set to remain in effect for eight years.
The importance of this measure lies in its potential to secure crucial funding for the school district. If Measure A had failed, the school board had warned that they would be forced to make $3 million in budget cuts. However, with the measure’s passage, the board now has the opportunity to raise teacher salaries. New teachers will start at a base salary of $71,657, and the most experienced educators can earn up to $135,113.
It’s worth noting that property owners over the age of 65 have the option to apply for an annual exemption from the tax.
However, the measure has not been without controversy. Los Altos Hills Mayor Linda Swan voiced her opposition to Measure A. She questioned the need for a special election and criticized the decision to cap the amount of funding allocated to Bullis Charter School.
The special election, estimated to cost the district approximately $800,000, was viewed by Swan as a misuse of resources that could have been directed towards teacher salaries and educational initiatives. Bullis Charter School and the Los Altos School District have experienced a contentious relationship for an extended period. The school board previously voted to limit the funding that the charter school could receive from the parcel tax to $625,000 per year, a move that Swan opposes due to its potential impact on per-student funding at Bullis Charter School.
Despite the debates and concerns surrounding Measure A, its passage secures essential financial support for the Los Altos School District, ensuring the continuity of quality education and the betterment of teacher compensation within the district.