Anonymous benefactor is funding CUSD parcel tax survey


Posted by on Wed, September 21, 2005

A person or person who prefer(s) to remain anonymous is funding a survey of Coastside voters to determine their appetite for yet another parcel tax to support Cabrillo Unified School District.

The questionnaire was developed by a polling firm. While it is not a project of the CUSD board or the school district staff, it was developed with input from CUSD board members Dwight Wilson and Jolanda Schreurs, according to Wilson.

I had an opportunity to answer the questions myself when the survey house called me at home between the time when I called Wilson for comment and when we were able to connect.

The survey asks respondents whether they would support a tax of $250 per parcel per year, and also asks for their reaction to variations such as exempting taxpayers over 55, basing the tax on square footage, or exempting undeveloped parcels. It also tests voters’ interest in a citizen committee to oversee the spending of the money.  [A smartass would say that in many communities, such a committee is called a "school board".]

The survey also tests pitches for selling the tax to voters, including resumption of school bus service, reduced class sizes, saving sports or arts instruction, recruiting and retaining quality teachers, and blaming the state for the district’s financial problems.

It also recognizes that the still-undecided location of the new middle school may be a significant hurdle to getting the measure approved. There are several questions testing respondents knowledge of and interest in the middle school question.

Wilson acknowledged that the middle school site would be an issue in any parcel tax election and said that the goal was to decide on the site at the October board meeting and then on the parcel tax in November or December.  The decision on the parcel tax would have to be made in time to meet the deadline for putting measures on the ballot. Wilson told me that the election could be held in March, April, or June in order to appear on property tax bills.

Parcel taxes have been defeated four times in the last six years:

  • November, 1999: $125/parcel for 4 years
  • March, 2002:  $75/parcel for 3 years
  • March, 2003: $250/parcel for 5 years
  • June, 2003:  $250/parcel for 5 years

The results of the survey may only be available to its funders until it is presented to the school board in November or December. Wilson told me that even then individual results would not be given to the school board and they would only see the compiled information. However, the survey house is keeping track of the names and answers of individual respondents and verifying them at the end of the survey. This would be extremely useful in any campaign for a parcel tax.

Comment 1
Wed, September 21, 2005 11:58pm
All my comments

Wilson told me that the election could be held in March, April, or June in order to appear on property tax bills.

June is the only one of those dates with a scheduled election, so unless someone is willing to fund another special election….

Comment 2
Thu, September 22, 2005 10:51am
P. A. Chimienti
All my comments

Parcel taxes—what does the CUSD think, fifth time a charm?  1/3 of my tax dollars goes right off the top to the school district.  I pay a tidy amount of taxes and I know my ‘newer’ neighbors pay much more. (Check the sale prices of houses lately?) Every year the amount of monies to the school district from taxes has been increasing, daily per student allotment is now up to $25, compared to last year’s which was about $23. 

The last anonymous donor for the parcel tax special election ‘confessed’ to be Bayless, from financial windfall.  $50,000 is not petty cash to be tossed. 

There is one person with the kind of money required to get his way and that person is Mr. Jones.  The school board is filled with members whose campaigns were assisted with Jones’ support. And though he is no longer part of the board, his lead is still followed faithfully.  This survey is a waste of money, whoever is paying for it. 

Until Cunha is built on the current Kelly site, and the ‘plans’ to build any school at Wavecrest ended for good, my vote is NO for any new school bound parcel taxes. 

Because Cunha is land-locked from any ‘new undeveloped areas’, unlike at Wavecrest, is one major reason it was never considered as a viable site for the new middle school.  Now, I notice the industrial yard that was located across from Cunha on Church and Kelly is for sale?  Where is the equipment now going to be stored? 

Cunha should stay a middle school.  If it becomes an elementary school it will: 
1)  Segregate the financially ‘better off’ students that live west of Hwy 1 from the financially strapped ones to the east. Many of these students are already bussed away from Hatch elementary school. 
2) Make portions of the school yard required for the current middleschool, possibly subjected to sale and development because the site is too big for an elementary school. 

Cunha needs to be the new middle school and a point of pride for the community, located actually in the heart of the community.  Too much of the public’s time and money has been wasted already, so much in fact, that it is taking someone’s private money to keep the old games going. 

Comment 3
Thu, September 22, 2005 1:41pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

Cunha is a big part of the lifeblood of downtown, in ways that a lot of people do not recognize. Abandoning Cunha is a step toward abandoning downtown.

I’ve felt that Cunha is unattractive as a site to some folks because it would be hard to expand the capacity of the school itself at that site.

I also think there is a feeling in some quarters that our kids “deserve” a new school, and that some old school isn’t good enough. I’ve heard that sentiment expressed by some prominent Wavecrest supporters. It’s irrational.

[The lot across from Cunha was the city’s corporation yard, and that activity has been moved to paved portion of the park site.]

Saying that our kids ‘deserve’ a new school is tantamount to ordering ‘fresh’ wine at dinner.