DOWNTOWN — With a long history of supporting local schools, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce on Thursday endorsed Measure A, an “emergency” parcel tax proposed by the school district to help close a projected $14 million budget deficit.

Measure A, which would levy a $198 tax per parcel throughout the city, will appear on a May 25 special mail-in ballot. Two-thirds of Santa Monica and Malibu voters must vote in favor of the tax for it to pass. If approved, the tax, which is slated to last for five years, would generate $5.7 million annually.

“We have exceptional local schools here in Santa Monica and Malibu,” said Laurel Rosen, president and CEO of the chamber. “The chamber has overwhelmingly endorsed Measure A to ensure local students continue to receive a strong education that prepares them for college and careers. As a chamber, our top priority is job creation and encouraging a healthy local economy, and high quality local schools are directly connected to both.”

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has faced significant budget cuts from the state, with an average of $10 million cut from the school district’s budget in each of the past two years. More cuts are expected as the state faces a severe budget deficit.

Supporters of Measure A said, if approved, it would help prevent layoffs of teachers, counselors and librarians and minimize reductions to science, math, reading, writing, art and music programs. The school board recently announced the loss of up to 61 teachers if the measure fails.

Opponents of the measure blasted the school board for placing a parcel tax on the ballot that does not force larger property owners to pay more, instead choosing to charge a flat rate for all parcels.

The chamber has a history of supporting local schools, sponsoring job fairs and training along with hosting the New Heroes Celebration, an annual event welcoming new teachers and public safety personnel. The chamber also offers an internship program for students, pairing those from Santa Monica High School with local businesses.

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