Vote YES to Renew the Lagunitas School District Parcel Tax
The Lagunitas School District provides an outstanding education for students in the San Geronimo Valley. Our graduates excel in high school as measured by academic success and outstanding participation in extramural activities including sports, music, art and theater. Many go on to attend leading colleges and universities throughout the world. Our innovative programs serve as models for other schools across the nation.
California currently ranks 46th in state spending per student and the Lagunitas School District has historically been one of the lowest funded school districts in Marin County. For more than twenty years our community has responded to this funding shortage by supporting our local students through a yearly parcel tax. This measure is a renewal of that parcel tax and provides 18% of our total school budget.
Our District depends on this parcel tax, parent contributions and other local funds. This revenue specifically provides:
- five of our twelve classroom teachers
- school aides
- technology services and equipment
- our school counselor
- supplies for all three programs, art, music, PE and science
Valley voters have proudly supported local funding for these programs for more than 20 years. This measure is not a request for a new tax, but continues our commitment to these critical programs. Without that support our classes would increase from the current 22 students per classroom to as many as 35.
Strong schools like ours develop responsible citizens that keep our community vital, attract new families and enhance our property values. Your support is essential for the District to continue to provide quality education that the children of our Valley deserve.
If Measure A fails, local funding for these programs will end next June. Please Vote YES on Measure A.
Rebuttal to argument against Measure A
The Argument Against Measure A submitted by Alex Easton-Brown, Lagunitas is factually inaccurate. All of the expenditures he questions could have been easily explained if he had made the effort to call our school district for clarification.
The Argument Against Measure A makes two claims. One, it claims the annual increase of 6.5% represents unnecessary spending. Second, the argument claims the use of parcel tax funds is unspecified and that our school district is not efficient in the way these funds are spent.
There are four main cost drivers that affect our school budget every year:
- Staff salaries increase each year following a negotiated schedule that begins very low (less than $51,000 for a starting teacher) and rises as teachers add years of experience and units of college credit. In addition, an annual cost of living increase for our staff is usually in the range of 2-4%. Together, these salary components total average a total increase of 4-6% annually. Is this excessive? Our teacher’s salaries still rank 17th out of the 18 districts in Marin County and only rise to 14th out of 18 for a teacher with ten years of experience.
- Health care costs for our staff increase every year. Over the past decade these costs have escalated an average of 6.25% each year.
- As mandated by the state, our retirement contribution rate is rising sharply to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the frequently talked about “unfunded pension mandate”. Between 2014 and 2022 the retirement contribution rate increases from 8.25% to 20.25%, an increase of 145% or 18% annually.
- Special Education services for students with special needs are also mandated by the state. District costs for these services have more than doubled in the past five years. Although these costs are highly variable, depending on the number of students with special needs and the severity of those needs, annual increases in special education expenditures are predicted for our districts, and others, in the foreseeable future.
Thus, with personnel costs making up 88% of our school budget and every major cost component for our staff compensation increasing near, or above, 6.5% we feel it is necessary to maintain this yearly parcel tax increase if we are going to sustain our current level of services for students and families in our community.
The Argument Against Measure A states that there are no specifics about how these funds will be spent. The district has been very specific. Parcel Tax funds currently support 5 classroom teachers, professional development for all staff, classroom supplies for each program, PE, art, music and science. Parcel tax funds also support our counseling program and technology services.
The argument implies that our district has been overly generous with administrative compensation. First, it should be noted that no parcel tax funds are spent on administrative costs. It should also be noted that we share our district superintendent with another district to reduce administrative cost and when hired, our superintendent was the lowest paid superintendent in Marin County. Our principal is shared between two campuses and is also one of the lowest paid principals in Marin County. The Argument Against Measure A asks, “How much will actually be spent in the classroom and on teachers?” That answer is simple: 99.1% of our parcel tax is directly spent on teachers or in the classroom!
The Lagunitas School District deserves your support on Measure A. Our children need your support of Measure A.