Let Measure A Save Our Schools

“The Acalanes Union High School District Emergency Education Act of 2010,” also known as Measure A, is frighteningly accurate in its title. Our schools are in fact in an emergency situation and it is essential that we all help to pass the Measure A parcel tax by May 4. That means that if you are 18 or older, vote!

Here is the deal. California state budget cuts have reduced the AUHSD’s budget from $56 million annually two years ago to $47 million for the 2010-11 school year. District funding has already been cut this current school year by over $1,500 for every student enrolled in the district and we are facing a $4.8 million deficit for the 2010-11 year. With no signs of fiscal improvement in California, we need to take action at a local level to save our teachers and the quality of our academic programs. Measure A is a five-year $112 annual increase in our district’s parcel tax, which is currently $189 per year.

Many community members might be wary of another tax increase in these difficult economic times, but the truth is that additional local funding is very necessary. The California legislature is unable to provide adequate funding and so it cannot be stressed enough how important it is that our community step up to the plate. Unlike many less affluent school districts also suffering budget cuts, our community can afford to subsidize our schools and we need to take advantage of that.

Without the passage of Measure A, important core academic classes will be threatened and inevitably cut. These include math, science, foreign language, social studies, English, and arts courses. Students are no longer guaranteed seven classes or valuable electives, but must instead struggle to meet basic graduation requirements.

The AUHSD budget cuts would result in the elimination of almost 57 full-time teaching positions throughout the district, particularly reducing student support services like counselors and librarians. Even with Measure A however, our district’s educational problems will not be solved.  For example, with the parcel tax class sizes will still increase beyond 30 students per classroom. These severe losses diminish the quality of education and should not be taken lightly or dismissed as unimportant.

Our school district is the number one rated in California and every high school consistently produces test scores. AUHSD also has an impressive graduation rate of 84%.

Maintaining this level of quality education without this increased parcel tax is impossible. In fact, even with the parcel tax and an additional $1 million provided by community parents clubs and educational foundations, the AUHSD will still face financial difficulties and program cuts.

This is a desperate situation and we urge everyone to remember how important education is in our community. A significant reason many Lamorinda residents move here is in order to provide their families with the best possible public education. Additionally, Lamorinda property values are increased and maintained by high educational standards and achievement.

Our community has continuously passed supplemental local funding for education over the past decade and now is not the time to stop supporting our students and schools. There is no worthier investment than in our futures, something directly influenced by our education.

Measure A is a vote-by-mail election and ballots have until May 4 to be received by the registrar’s office. According to the governing board of the AUHSD parcel tax resolution, Measure A funds will be reviewed by an Independent Citizen’s Oversight Committee and will be put toward protecting academic programs and student services.

Measure A, although far from a miracle cure, is a necessary component to saving our district’s reputation, our teachers’ jobs, and our students’ educations and futures. Please do what is right and vote yes on the Measure A parcel tax, our “Emergency Education Act.” It is indeed an emergency.

The Editorial Board voted  11-0 in favor