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Measure A Background

2005 Election

2005 Results

Measure A Expenditures

In November 2001 with 10,008 YES votes and 4,023 NO votes, Alameda approved a $109 parcel tax. Here was the ballot language for Measure A:

Measure A

To retain and recruit quality teachers and staff, to avoid further reductions is essential educational programs, to avoid increases in class sizes and to maintain the quality of education in Alameda schools, shall the Alameda Unified School District be authorized to levy, for five years only, a tax of $109 per parcel, to provide an exemption to the principal residence of persons 65 years of age or over, and appoint a District Fiscal Oversight Committee?

Here is a recent report on recent expenditures.

2004/05 Update

Due to election of David Forbes to the School Board, Richard Heaps, PTA Council was selected to the Oversight Committee.

Meeting Schedule for 2004/05 School Year
12-20-04 4:00-5:30PM
2-9-05 4:00-5:30PM
6-8-05 4:00-5:30PM
9-14-05 4:00-5:30PM

2005 Election

At the February 8th, 2005 BOE meeting, the School Board approved the 2005 budget cuts totaling $1,625,000. At the subsequent meeting, the Board approved placing a new parcel tax measure on the ballot.

A committee of parent volunteers ran the campaign effort designed Tramulota LLC. Ron Mooney and Carla Greathouse together with Rich Heaps, John Newton, Paul Helliker and Anna Elefant were instrumental is organizing, coordinating and leading the effort. Christina Chen, Sara Heaps and Jack Newton were high school students who rallied support for high school students for phone banking. There was significant support from the administrators and teachers at the phone banks.

With 100% of the precincts reporting, Measure A is passing with 67.25%. YES votes are 7,750 and NO votes are 3,773 for a total of 11,523 votes. That translate into a 68 vote margin of victory. The election will not be certified until all absentee and provisional ballots are counted.

June 8 4pm Update: An additional 441 votes have been tallied by the Registar of Voters. The updated total are 8,028 YES votes and 3956 NO votes for passing rate of 66.98%. The margin victory is now 77 votes.

On Friday, June 10th, the Alameda County Registar of Voters issued the Offical Results of election. Measure A received 8,231 YES votes (67.19%)and 4,018 NO votes based a voter turnout of 29.5%. The margin of victory was 65 votes.

Why Measure A Passed – But Just Barely

By Valerie Creque, Alameda Sun, June 20, 2005

It’s official: Measure A passed, but not with flying colors.

The final results from the June 7 vote are in and Measure A’s margin of victory was a mere 64 votes. This year’s $189 school parcel tax is both a renewal and an increase from November 2001’s $109 tax slated to fund schools in the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD).

Hundreds of students, parents, teachers, school administrators and concerned citizens volunteered their time to ensure the passage of Measure A. At Tuesday’s school board meeting, several volunteers were personally thanked, while 235 honorees will receive certificates of thanks for their participation in the campaign to pass Measure A. The narrow margin and low voter turnout have some Alamedans wondering why efforts to give Measure A a passing grade seemed to go unnoticed.

“We got by by the skin of our teeth,” said AUSD Board of Education President Mike McMahon.

The passage of the parcel tax will generate $3 million for AUSD schools over the next seven years.

Measure A needed two-thirds, or 66.6 percent, of votes to pass: It received 67.2 percent. Piedmont’s comparable Measure C passed with 83 percent and Santa Clara County’s Measure A also passed, with more than 73 percent in favor. The 2001 Measure A voter turnout was 14,031: This year’s turnout was 12,249.

Though not quite old enough to vote, Alameda high school students did their part.

Encinal High School junior and student board representative Sara Heaps, along with fellow junior Jack Newton, were part of the Measure A steering committee. Heaps and Newton spent two months phone banking, calling residents for support. They often phone banked in two-hours shifts, calling between 75 and 100 people.

“We were getting desperate,” said 17-year-old Heaps. “We didn’t know what we were going to do if it didn’t pass.”

Heaps and Newton also rallied other student to help put door hangers at the homes of residents. Heaps said the biggest part of their job was running the Bay Farm voting precinct at the Alameda Fire Station — in addition to attending classes.

The phone banking continued on voting day with Heaps calling supporters, some of whom had forgotten there was an election.

“It was a single issue ballot,” she said. “It wasn’t a high priority for some people.”

The election didn’t have multiple causes, so there wasn’t as much promotion as there had been in previous years. Also, Heaps suggested that people couldn’t find time in their busy schedule to cast ballots. In general, however, she believes that Alamedans are supportive of their schools.

“I think that if everybody in Alameda voted, it would have passed by a greater amount,” Heaps said. “I’m incredibly happy that it passed.”

Alameda High School’s student board representative Christina Chen shares Heaps’ sentiment.

“I feel really good about it because I have a brother and sister who attend Alameda schools,” said the 17-year-old senior.

Chen also participated in phone banking, voter drives to encourage the 18-year-old students to vote and rallies to give students the facts about Measure A. She hoped that in turn they would pass the information along to their parents.

Chen worried about the fate of Alameda’s schools if Measure A did not pass.

“This year’s budget had counselors in danger of being cut,” Chen said. Chen wants her younger siblings to have the same opportunities she had.

If Measure A hadn’t passed, AUSD would have had to cut $800,000 from its budget, McMahon said.

“That translates to people,” he added.

According to McMahon, personnel expenses consume 80 percent of the school district’s budget.

“A couple dozen” teachers and administrators would have received their walking papers, he said. AUSD may have been forced to close a school.

At the end of the day, students, teachers and administrators are relieved and grateful that Measure A made the grade.

“I think Alameda is a city that supports education — that’s good for all of us,” said Assistant Superintendent Ardella Dailey. “Joy, joy, joy … and thank you Alameda.”

Retired judge says Measure A paid for wrong expenses

By Johnathan Opet, Alameda Sun, June 28, 2007

A prominent member of a school district parcel tax oversight committee resigned Tuesday night saying he had personal discomfiture with the moneys expenditure.

Richard Bartalini, a retired superior court judge, told the Alameda school board on Tuesday that he couldnt in good faith say that the 2005 Measure A school parcel tax was being spent in accordance with what voters approved.

Money intended for school district services and programs paid for other expenses, Bartalini said.

The schools districts chief financial officer, Luz T. Cazares, defended the spending.

The ballot language is broad enough to include many items, she said.

In addition, she said, when the measure was passed it was impossible to predict the school districts expenses, which have included recent salary negotiations.

School district Superintendent Ardella Dailey said the spending was still in the parameters of Measure A.

On Tuesday, the school board approved a contract with a school workers union that had been hammered out by a state-appointed mediator after an impasse was declared in May.

The contract generally agrees to a 6 percent increase over three years.

School district officials spent about $228,000 more than Measure A brought in this past fiscal year, according to a school district document. About $3.2 million was collected last year, according to a document. Czares emphasized that the school district had voluntarily entered into a binding salary increase agreement.

Bartalini, who campaigned for Measure A in 2005, said the spending no longer was in line with what the ballot had told voters.

This isnt what I talked about, he said.

The $189 per year education tax was passed June 7, 2005, with more than 67 percent approval.

It replaced a similar parcel tax passed in 2001 that had levied a $109 toll on most residents.

The 2005 ballot language said the money would go to retain experienced teachers and attract new qualified teachers, retain teaching specialists in reading, math and science, preserve educational programs in music and art and to maintain small class sizes.

Bartalinis resignation was effective Tuesday night. He said the people of Alameda demand honesty, visibility and accountability. He added that its important we dont fall apart as a family.

Later he said: Public education is the most beneficial thing we can provide in a democratic country.

Retired judge disputes Measure A spending

Some money used to pay teacher salaries for 2005-06, he says

By Alan Lopez, Alameda Journal, June 29, 2005

Some of the Measure A tax money voters approved in 2005 is not being spent in line with how it was represented in that year's campaign, said Richard Bartalini, a retired Alameda County Superior Court judge and the former head of the Measure A audit committee.

Bartalini's concern was over $888,360 being used to retroactively fund teacher salaries for the 2005-06 fiscal year. He complained that the committee had not been made aware of that expenditure.

"Now we'll have people asking me what happened," Bartalini said. "And I don't have an answer."

Bartalini, who spoke at Tuesday night's Alameda school board meeting, said he was resigning from his position as the head of the Measure A audit committee. He said he would also not support a new parcel tax if placed on the 2012 ballot.

Some 67 percent of voters approved Measure A on June 7, 2005. The $189 per-parcel annual assessment was both a renewal and an increase of a November 2001 tax with the same name.

A state arbitrator made the decision to use parcel tax money during the 2005 salary negotiations, said Luz Cazares, the school district's chief financial officer. The arbitrator intervened following a disagreement between the school district and the teachers union over what revenue should be included for funding teachers salaries.

Cazares and school district Superintendent Ardella Dailey say the money was spent within the parameters of the ballot language.

School board member Mike McMahon agreed. Though the Measure A campaign did not specifically say the money would go toward teacher salaries, it can be argued that it is being well-spent on the written goal of attracting and retaining the best teachers.

The money is also being used to: maintain a student/teacher ratio staffing formula; maintain elective and intervention programs at the middle and high schools; and maintain athletics, counseling programs, classified staff and discretionary budgets for individual schools.

Except for the discretionary budgets, all those programs include money for salaries, Cazares said.

As for Bartalini's resignation and refusal to support a future tax measure, that could be a blow to the cash-strapped school district, McMahon said. He called Bartalini a "major center of influence" within the city.

"Obviously we have to replace him," McMahon said, "and find someone who will also be considered a strong individual in the community so we can maintain the oversight the public wants."

The parcel tax issue is the latest wrinkle in the school district's financial challenges.

In February, the school board cut $1.4 million from its $81.5 million 2007-08 budget, resulting in reduction of hours for 32 classified employees.

The budget cut also eliminated after-school sports at the city's three public middle schools. The district is planning a collaboration with the city on a fee-based sports program beginning next school year.

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Last modified: June, 2007

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