Schools won’t seek parcel tax this year
While Sonoma Valley Hospital just conducted a successful mail-in parcel tax ballot and the City of Sonoma will have a sales tax measure on the June ballot, the Sonoma Valley Unified School District won’t be looking at the possibility of a parcel tax until sometime next year.
The district just cut nearly $2.6 million from next year’s budget last month and it will be sending another $2.8 million back to Sacramento as part of its “fair share.”
School officials want to update the district’s strategic plan before turning to the voters.
“Before moving forward with a parcel tax, we need to update our strategic plan; assessing where we are against our current goals, what we have left to do and what goals are important to us in the next three-to-five years,” said school Superintendent Louann Carlomagno. “Before we can go to our community with a parcel tax request, we need to be crystal clear on our needs and next steps in assuring all students are ready for college and career upon graduation.”
Even though it’ll only take about three or four months to work on the strategic plan, Carlomagno isn’t about to ask the board to put a measure on the November ballot as there will be an almost bewildering number of propositions, including probably at least three statewide tax measures.
“Additionally, I would not recommend moving forward with a parcel tax in November because of the possible initiatives being brought forth by the governor,” she said. “It’s a potential lose-lose if there are multiple tax initiatives on one ballot. We’re also waiting to hear about potential redevelopment agency funding.”
School board President Gary DeSmet agreed that the strategic plan needs to move forward before the district can think about a parcel tax.
“We have to look at our facilities, personnel, curriculum and our vision for the next three-to-ten years,” he said. “If we can’t answer those questions …”
DeSmet said the district has to look at where it is now and where it wants to go. And he sees the competing tax measures on the November ballot as a temporary roadblock. “It doesn’t seem prudent,” he added.
The goal, DeSmet said, is to get the strategic plan finished before school is out in June.
For the first time, the district is asking parents for their thoughts through a survey. The survey is available at all of the district schools, and electronically through the district’s website, www. svusdca.org. But the deadline to complete the survey is Friday, March 16.
“We need to see the strategic plan to see what’s next,” DeSmet said. “That’s going to tell us what sort of hole we need to dig ourselves out of.”
Superintendent Carlomagno said with the way the state has been cutting funding, the district is going to have to focus on local community support.
The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. today, Tuesday, March 13, in the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W.