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School District Parcel Tax Renewal on February Ballot:

The fate of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will once again be placed in the hands of the voting public.

Voters from the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu will decide whether or not to renew the existing School District parcel taxes on the February 5, 2008 ballot.

Currently, the District collects two separate parcel taxes, one from Measure “Y,” which expires on June 30, 2011, and the other from Measure “S,” set to expire on June 30, 2009. The School Board decided to combine the two existing parcel taxes into a single annual levy at a special Board meeting on October 25. The decision was in agreement with the recommendation made by the District’s Parcel Tax Feasibility Committee.

If approved by voters, the new parcel tax will, according to the District staff report draft of the measure, “not exceed $346 per parcel” and will be “adjusted annually for inflation in accordance with the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (Los Angels-Riverside-Orange area). A Senior Exemption will be available to those 65 years or older who own and occupy a parcel as a principal residence and apply for the exemption.

A public review requirement is also included in the measure that requires the Board of Education to “annually conduct a noticed public hearing to assess the continuing need for the tax revenues resulting from the” measure.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Matthews dramatized the need to renew both parcel taxes in a presentation. He noted the parcel taxes have been generating funds for programs, some of which would not be able to continue without this additional funding. He mentioned that currently Measure “S,” approved by voters in 2000, yields $6.5 million per year, while Measure “Y,” approved in 2003, generates $3.9 million annually. Music and P.E. at the elementary school level, as well as smaller class sizes throughout the District, are a result of Measure “S” and “Y” funds. This revenue also supplements other funding to keep libraries operating in District elementary schools. The funds also allow lower counselor and nursing ratios and improved technology throughout the District.

In other news, an October 25 District press release announced that four SMMUSD elementary schools were recipients of the 2007 CA Honor Roll School Award for success in raising student achievement: Franklin Elementary School, Roosevelt Elementary, Pt. Dume Marine Science School, and Webster Elementary School.

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