With little more than one month left for voters to decide whether to renew a parcel tax to pay for La Cañada schools and programs, volunteers with the Yes on LC campaign are calling the community to spread the word about the upcoming mail-in ballot election.
The citizen-led parcel tax committee is accepting volunteers on a walk-in basis to participate in a phone bank at the Prudential Realty building, 827 Foothill Blvd., from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday. Callers are provided with voter lists and are encouraged to call friends and neighbors and in their school area.
School board Vice President Andrew Blumenfeld, a caller and the board’s liaison to the committee, says the main idea is to inform voters about the election and answer questions voters may have about LC, which asks parcel holders to pay an annual total of $450 per parcel over a seven-year period.
“The whole goal here is to have as many conversations as possible to let people know about Measure LC and have voters be as informed as possible,” Blumenfeld said.
The ballot for Measure LC will reach voters’ mailboxes in February and must be received by the Los Angeles County Registrar by March 4. So far, no drop-off locations in town have been identified. A two-thirds vote is required for passage.
A feasibility study conducted last May indicated that an aggressive educational campaign would be required to ensure the parcel tax’s approval. To that end, callers are making sure the community is aware of the district’s economic situation and how a parcel tax will help maintain and improve local schools.
On Tuesday night, the Prudential Realty building was bustling with activity. Volunteers engaged in conversations could be seen from outside. Inside, offices were occupied by people busy at work. Among them were La Cañada Unified School District officials past and present, including Blumenfeld and former board members Susan Boyd, Cindy Wilcox and Jeanne Broberg.
Jinny Dalbeck, the committee’s calling coordinator and a former school board member, said so far efforts have been successful with volunteers averaging 25 to 30 phone calls an hour. One focus is letting people know the ballot they get in the mail is the only way to vote on the measure; another is informing them how greatly a parcel tax is needed.
“The state just isn’t funding schools adequately,” Dalbeck said. “(Next year) La Cañada will be among the lowest funded districts for the state, but it still costs to provide a quality education, to attract and keep good teachers and keep our buildings up.”
La Cañada High mom Jennifer Rubendall came Tuesday to lend a hand. A longtime school supporter, and one of eight candidates who ran for a seat on the school board in November, Rubendall says she’s passionate about maintaining the high quality of public education in La Cañada.
“I’m very much pro parcel tax, because I know it’s so important to our schools,” she said.
To help make conversations run smoothly, phone bank volunteers are given fact sheets containing informational bullet points and answers to frequently asked questions.
They also track calls on a tally sheet that records whether someone plans to support the new parcel tax, is undecided or ultimately against it.
Just over an hour into her shift and starting to get the routine down, Rubendall said the conversations she had were largely positive, with about 75% in favor of LC. She advised anyone who might be interested in supporting local schools to come to the phone bank and give it a try.
“You can absolutely do it,” Rubendall said. “Come and sit down, take your time, take a breath and get to know your community.”
For more information on Measure LC or to volunteer, call (818) 952-5522 or visit yesonlc.org.