SMMUSD HDQTRS — Despite the failure of Measure A at the polls last month, school district boosters have not ruled out the possibility of placing another local funding measure on the ballot this November, members of a committee studying the issue said this week.
Measure A, a proposed $198 per parcel tax that would have raised $5.7 million per year for five years for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, received 64.25 percent of the vote in a May 25 mail-in election, falling just short of the two-thirds it needed to pass.
While the Santa Monica Malibu Education Foundation has been seeking private donations since the measure’s failure to prevent some of the district’s cuts, it’s clear fundraising won’t provide anywhere near the amount of funding Measure A would have raised.
A district committee that recommended the SMMUSD school board place Measure A on the ballot met on Tuesday to discuss the election and make plans to consider a possible future funding measure.
While no decision has been reached, the committee’s chair, Neil Carrey, said members will be holding meetings on a “tight, expedited schedule” in order to come up with a recommendation about a possible new parcel tax in time for November’s election. He said a recommendation to the school board would have to be made by early August in order for a tax to qualify for November’s ballot.
As the committee meets, he said one topic of discussion will be whether to consider proposing a parcel tax that would assess property owners different amounts based on the value of their properties. Some critics of Measure A, which would have charged property owners $198 per parcel regardless of size, called the proposed tax regressive and said large commercial property owners should pay more than homeowners.
Whether or not a parcel tax makes it onto November’s ballot, Carrey said it’s likely the committee will recommend attempting to pass a new funding measure in the near future.
“I think the feeling is that at some point, we’re going to need another one,” he said. “The money is just not going to be there and Sacramento is in such a mess there’s no prospect that it’s going to get any better.”
Rebecca Kennerly, a committee member and chair of the group Community for Excellent Public Schools, said despite an ambitious fundraising effort, a new funding measure will be needed to maintain the district’s quality.
“The only possible way to provide the stable, ongoing funding that the state has cut is through public funds,” she said. “That’s the only way to go. There’s no other option, so we have to look at that option.”