If Burbank Unified’s proposed parcel tax is to pass next year, perhaps no two groups are more integral to its success than local parents and teachers.
In the six weeks since the board of education agreed to place a new measure on the March 3, 2020, ballot, the Burbank Council Parent-Teacher Assn., or PTA, and Burbank Teachers Assn., or BTA, have staked early claims of support.
Officials with the Burbank Council PTA, a 7,405-member student-parent advocacy group representing 16 schools, announced during a school board meeting last week that the organization endorsed the tax, this one known as the Quality Teacher, Staff and Schools Measure, throwing their support for a tax initiative for the second time in 12 months.
School district officials placed a proposed 10-cents-per-square-foot annual fee, known as Measure QS, on the ballot last November, but it failed by a narrow margin.
“I’m very pleased to announce that our association voted not only to support this measure but also voted to actively work to seek passage of this measure,” said Amy Kamm, vice president of the Burbank Council PTA, during the board meeting.
The new proposed parcel tax would also levy a 10-cents-per-square-foot annual fee against property owners. It’s expected to generate $9.1 million annually for the district.
Burbank Unified estimates the average Burbank home is roughly 1,700 square feet, translating into an annual tax of $170.
There are exemptions for senior citizens and disabled persons receiving supplemental-security income, though they must apply to opt out.
“They were huge supporters last time and, after we debriefed the first time [in February], they were pushing the board and me to learn from the last one and get it on the ballot,” Burbank Unified Supt. Matt Hill said of the Burbank Council PTA.
The local PTA is hoping for a better result than the district’s proposed Measure QS, which failed to pass the two-thirds threshold by 938 votes.
The big difference between the two proposed parcel taxes is that the most recent one includes a 12-year sunset clause, while Measure QS had no termination date.
The Burbank Council PTA isn’t the first group to back the most recent proposed measure — that designation goes to the Burbank Teachers Assn., which announced its support through internal communications within the organization.
“The Burbank Teachers Assn. supports the parcel tax,” said BTA president Diana Abasta, representing the 850-member union.
“Quality schools start with quality educators — retaining and recruiting teachers, counselors, nurses and speech and language pathologists is crucial to public education in Burbank,” she added.
However, the Burbank Council PTA was the first to publicly pledge its support.
“Today’s PTA is a network of millions of families, students, teachers, administrators and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement at schools,” Burbank Council PTA president Wendi Harvel said during the school board meeting.
“We advocate for all children to ensure every child has a voice,” Harvel added.
Kamm noted the student-parent group is nonpartisan and does not endorse individual candidates.
“PTAs may adopt a position on legislative bills that have a significant impact on children and youth and that fall within the framework of the PTA legislation platform, priorities and current PTA positions,” Kamm said.
Like last year, the Burbank Council PTA conducted a study weighing the pros and cons of a parcel tax.
Unlike last year, though, the group did not issue a set of recommendations to the school board.
Fast forward 12 months, and the same group did not publicize the vote count regarding the new proposed tax.