Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 21, 2016

The education of Alameda

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

Unsurprisingly the School Board is making first moves into testing the waters for a new (or renewed) parcel tax to help fund some of the things that AUSD families have indicated are important to them for a quality education.  Once of the first steps is, of course, polling.  You can look at the full set of the powerpoint at the link, but here are a few slides that I found interesting.

The larger takeaway is that in general people feel as though AUSD (from the District to teachers to quality of education) is doing pretty well.  Parents who would best be able to gauge these very specific things overwhelming rate AUSD higher than people who don’t have kids currently at an AUSD school.

However, the larger takeaway is there is still an uphill climb to get the 2/3 majority needed to pass a parcel tax.  While a renewal would nearly get there any others structures fall short.






The District and Alamedans that support quality schools, will have a long road ahead to help educate the 13% undecided that the parcel tax money is still desperately needed and that good schools are good for the health of the community as a whole.



  1. Hmmmm…the confluence of rent control, a presidential race, and the school parcel tax will produce a large turnout. Those who own property are really feeling the “burn” from the hospital, the parcel tax, and now the rent control initiative. Have we reached the tipping point?

    Wonder which schools get the lowest rating by parents? Doubt that the significant numbers of unhappy parents are evenly distributed….

    Comment by Captain Obvious — March 21, 2016 @ 7:49 am

  2. In order to “rate” a school system, don’t you have to be able to compare it with something else? How many people rating AUSD have experience with any other USD?

    How many people just hang up after telling the caller:”No New Parcel Taxes! Don’t call me again!”

    Note: For all the taxpayer support we have given that (expletive deleted) Alameda Hospital, now it isn’t taking anyone’s insurance? Boy, that really worked out well for Alameda.

    Comment by vigi — March 21, 2016 @ 9:22 am

  3. With many of the newest residents paying pretty steep property taxes already, I’m not sure it’s going to be too popular. Renters will also worry that their rents will go up as a consequence.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 21, 2016 @ 9:27 am

  4. It would fail at the ballot box.

    Comment by A Neighbor — March 21, 2016 @ 9:31 am

  5. Would a raise in the parcel tax (or any tax) be a significant reason to raise the rent in any Alameda unit the exact same amount as the parcel tax under the present rent control ordinance? What about under the proposed one by rent control advocates?

    Comment by Captain Obvious — March 21, 2016 @ 10:00 am

  6. If a renewal initiative fails, do you think landlords will roll back the rents to reflect that they will have less taxes ? I doubt that.

    I’ve talked to an Alameda teacher just Friday, who was recently engaged and considering moving to a larger place. She lived in a rent controlled apartment in SF for 18 years and her last rent was about $800, but moved to a $1400 a month one bedroom apartment in Emeryville a year ago. She said other units in her building which have been rented more recently are going for $1600 and $1800. She said that Alameda is one of the most expensive rental markets so she and her fiance are looking in places like San Leandro. One of the prime reasons Alameda rents are so high are the schools. If this tax fails the rents will not plummet but within a year or so the level of education will begin to be compromised. Only a matter of time until that filters out through the grapevine that out schools have taken a hit.

    Comment by MI — March 21, 2016 @ 10:29 am

  7. I’ve forgotten some of the history re the 2011 Measure A parcel tax for AUSD funding. I think it was supposed to expire after 7 years. What % of current ASUD budget relies on it (roughly)? As I recall, the Measure A assessments on the largest apartment buildings/buildings generally are capped at a certain level, there was a lawsuit, and then……

    Comment by MP — March 21, 2016 @ 10:42 am

  8. So, no effort to equalize funding for Alameda students despite the fact that the Alameda Naval Air Station has been closed for decades.

    It does not seem that Assembly members and Senators that are suppose to represent Alameda have ever had any interest in representing Alameda’s kids in Sacramento. Hmm. So what exactly are they doing for us up in Sacramento?

    Comment by JohnB — March 21, 2016 @ 11:01 am

  9. Good morning all,

    A few quick responses to comments and questions here:

    #2 and #5 — None of the options presented during the poll involved the addition of a new tax or an increase in taxes. The options discussed were to maintain or lower the current tax level.

    #7 — Measure A currently provides $12 million/year to AUSD’s budget. That is roughly 12% of the budget.

    You can get the most recent information about Measure A revenues and expenditures in the 2014-2015 Annual Report, which is on the left hand side of this page:

    Hope that helps!

    Comment by Susan Davis (Community Affairs, AUSD) — March 21, 2016 @ 11:53 am

  10. 7. Measure H was the parcel tax which succumbed to a law suit, even though it was modeled after other existing taxes. That loss resulted in the repeal of the other taxes on which it was modeled ( sorry Albany). The lost funding from that suit has been captured in Measure A which was a “replacement tax” which covered the amount of another previously approved tax ( not H) while increasing it and extending it.

    8. AUSD is a plaintiff in a law suit for equal funding, which was initiated by AUSD along with other districts who came together around the idea to pursue equalizing funding using the tactic of constitutionality. Perhaps Susan Davis is better qualified to address details and status of that suit.

    The reason it had to come to a law suit is because in order to divide the funding pie equally our legislators have to get legislators from other districts which are currently better funded to vote to cut their own funding, which makes legislation a non-option. It’s not that our reps in Sacramento are lazy or incompetent, it’s that they have nothing to bargain with in trying to cut a deal. Lobbying for legislation is a dead end.

    4. the very large bond passed and without a particularly big campaign. Go figure.

    I didn’t realize Measure A provides 12% of the budget, but that is serious. Hard to imagine quality of education would not suffer with 12% cut, yet my understanding is that some charter school proponents have threatened to sue the district AND not support the parcel tax campaign if they don’t get the additional space from the district to expand a program which will under cut existing public elementary school programs at schools like Ruby Bridges, Paden and Maya Lin. I guess they are O.K. with 12% cuts to their precious programs.

    Comment by MI — March 21, 2016 @ 3:16 pm

  11. #10 Measure I only needed 55% and it got 62.75%. I think any replacement for Measure A will require 66.66 % plus 1 vote. Measure A received 68.1%.

    Comment by frank — March 21, 2016 @ 3:57 pm

  12. It takes just 2/3 rather than 2/3 +1. As pedantic as that seems, it could matter. Measure H’s margin was less than 100 votes.

    Comment by dave — March 21, 2016 @ 4:07 pm

  13. Didn’t Trish Spencer oppose the school parcel tax measures when she was on the school board?

    Comment by Cindy — March 21, 2016 @ 4:22 pm

  14. In November 2010 the school board (including Trish Spencer) voted unanimously to put the current school parcel tax on the ballot. It was a good compromise in many different ways and it really did have widespread support from many people and groups, some of whom often disagree about other issues. In March 2011 Measure A got a 68% yes vote, demonstrating that the vast majority of people in Alameda understand the connection between good schools and a good community and know the state is an unreliable partner in funding schools.

    Looking at the presentation posted about this for tomorrow’s school board meeting, it looks like the approach they’d most likely take is to extend the term of the current measure. That would mean no new taxes, just a continuation of the important current local funding that has served us all well in many ways. That sounds like a good and reasonable approach.

    Comment by Keep it Going — March 21, 2016 @ 5:11 pm

  15. 11. that’s a good point that the bond didn’t have the same very high threshold as parcel taxes, but I was still impressed that it passed by such a margin with what was comparatively a minimal campaign. I expected it to fail. The bond was for infrastructure as opposed to parcel tax which goes to education. I wonder how anti-union sentiment measures into these outcomes.

    Comment by MI — March 21, 2016 @ 8:39 pm

  16. The presentation is only the first step in the process. The polling was done to ensure the placement of a measure on the ballot has a reasonable chance of passing. If the Board believes that to be case the harder work comes next when they have to decide on the parcel tax ballot measure language. There are two critical components to be decided.

    First, is the what the tax will look like. The current tax, is placed on the ballot could face another legal challenge. While the 32 cents for buildings is uniform (compared to different rates in Measure H), the cap on buildings limiting the tax to $7,999 might not be considered uniform ( the reason Measure H lost in the Appeals Court). If they take the less risky approach and move to fixed parcel rate, many homes on the main island would see significant increase in their parcel tax assessment.

    Second, once they have decided on what type of parcel tax that would like, the Board has decided on how to allocate the monies. In the past, (prior to Measure H) monies were not specifically allocated to categories. With the passage of Measure A, it would be risky to revert back to a general allocation as any opposition could claim the monies could be spent in a capricious manner.

    One encouraging note is the 75% approval among non-frequent voters. With the November election shaping up to be a referendum on civility from our nation’s leader, voter turnout of infrequent voters should be high. One discouraging note will the plethora of potential new taxes on the November ballot at state and local level. BART and AC Transit are both looking a placing parcel tax measures on the November.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — March 22, 2016 @ 7:56 am

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