Burbank Unified’s parcel tax has a name, and the local school superintendent has a mission.
Supt. Matt Hill announced during a Burbank Arts for All Foundation get-together on Aug. 29 that the 10-cents-per-square-foot-per-year fee bound for the Nov. 6 ballot will be known as Measure QS, which stands for quality schools.
“When you file the initiative, you get to pick some letters, and they do a lottery on that,” Hill said. “So, quality schools is one that we thought would be catchy.”
Hill also said the selection of the letters “QS” had nothing to do with the 2013 district bond known as Measure S, which authorized Burbank Unified to issue $110 million in bonds for facilities upgrades.
Measure QS would cost the average Burbank homeowner approximately $170 annually and has been estimated to generate $9 million per year for the district.
That money will be divided up among several causes, including a 2% raise for all district employees, the lowering of some class sizes, and even the purchase of new band uniforms.
The tax requires two-thirds voter support to pass.
Hill’s visit to the foundation was one of several the superintendent has made since the district voted in July to give Burbank residents the chance to vote on a parcel tax. He’s also written to several groups, such as the Magnolia Park Mammas, and publications, including the Burbank Leader.
Before Nov. 6, Hill said he is determined to meet as many people as possible and explain what the parcel tax will fund.
“I’m available for any meeting you have,” he said. “I’ve been doing as many — I don’t drink coffee, although I drank some today — but, I’ve been having as much ice tea as I can possibly drink. I will meet one-on-one, I will meet in the living rooms, I will meet in large groups so that people will have the facts of what this tax could do for our children in this community.”
He added, “You have to have the facts. How you vote is up to you.”
While Hill can certainly play the role of Measure QS ambassador, he’s not allowed to tell Burbank voters how they should decide.
“I can’t,” when asked why he doesn’t advocate for the tax. “Legally, I can get invited to an event, and I can talk and I can answer questions. I can give you facts and I can answer questions based on facts. The school district, the school board and I, we cannot host a town hall. We can’t host events.”
Even before the board elected to go the parcel-tax route, resistance to another school fee was noticeable with some residents in the community.
A survey conducted by Los Angeles-based research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates from late March noted that 29% of registered voters said they would “definitely” not support the tax.
While Hill has reached out to tax opponents on social media, he’s asking for more substance than just saying “no.”
“If you’re against it, state why,” he said. “Engage in a debate; engage in a dialogue with people that are for it. Here in Burbank, we are going to have to move forward on Nov. 7, one way or another.”