As a member of the La Cañada Unified School District Parcel Tax Oversight Committee, I was recently reminded that it was my turn to write an article highlighting one of the numerous programs currently funded by the parcel tax.
My colleagues have previously written in the local papers, explaining the parcel tax (a tax of $150 paid annually for five years, approved by residents within the boundaries of the LCUSD, that is added to our property tax bills). My committee members have highlighted different programs that the tax supports, including the music program for grades seven through 12 and computer specialists at the elementary schools.
With approximate revenues of $910,000 and $890,000 for the first two years the tax was in place (09/10 and 10/11), the list of programs that the parcel tax funds is quite impressive. In addition to the programs listed above, the tax has funded either full or partial salaries for teachers at La Cañada High School in the following areas: foreign language, art, science, math, psychology, social science and ASB support. It has provided for library support and counselors at all of the elementary schools and also funded a partial salary of technology support for all K-12 schools. It has supported ninth-grade class size reduction in English and math and funded class size reduction for kindergarten through third-grade classes in the 2009/2010 school year.
As you can see, the parcel tax not only funds “extra” programs that were long ago eliminated by many public school districts, but is also funding some basic teaching positions. With the threat of additional large state budget cuts looming, I have to wonder if the next three years’ parcel tax lists will include fewer “extra programs” and more “basics.”
While the “basics” are required by the educational code and are the backbone of an educational program, the additional programs, such as music, art, foreign languages, computers, theater and athletics, are what keep many students interested in school and create well-rounded individuals.
Like all of you, I don’t have a crystal ball and don’t know what the future financial scenario will hold for our schools, but I am thankful that we have our parcel tax in place. The $1.8 million collected over the past two years and projected amounts over the final three years of this parcel tax are funds that are critical to supporting the school district in these times of extreme financial need.
BECKY LANKEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.