With a proposed parcel tax still struggling to collect the dozens of votes needed to pass, Redwood City Elementary School District officials are preparing to accept the measure’s failure.
Acknowledging that tides would need to shift in a significant fashion at the 11th hour, school board President Dennis McBride said he would be surprised if Measure H was approved.
Measure H showed just over 65% on election night but vote center tallies released Tuesday, Nov. 12, bumped that percentage up to 66.24% — still just shy of the supermajority 66.67% to pass. Since then, election officials have sent some ballots back to voters for a signature to count, said Jim Irizarry, assistant assesor- county clerk- recorder and chief elections officer for the county in an email. He added the tax is about 70 votes short of the threshold needed for approval, so even if all the roughly 50 unsigned ballots supported the tax, the measure’s fate seems sealed. A final determination will be announced Thursday, Dec. 5.
Noting the slim chance that the select remaining ballots will provide the support needed to push the tax over the threshold for approval, McBride said officials will be able to preserve educational programming without the additional revenue.
“If it doesn’t pass, we are just are not going to do the things that we would have done,” he said.
The money generated by the tax was designed to limit class sizes, finance supplemental services, build STEM programming and more. Unlike other taxes in the past though, McBride said the district will not need to examine budget cuts should the measure ultimately fail.
“We don’t have to do anything if it is not going to pass,” he said. “It’s business as usual.”
The $149 parcel tax was expected to generate an estimated $3.45 million for the school district annually over the next 12 years.
It was also designed to help close a looming $10 million budget gap for a district that has historically struggled with budget problems which grew so severe that last year officials approved shuttering campuses in an effort to overhaul the limited budget. Critics of the tax suggested the money saved by reconstructing the budget should be used to solidify the district’s financial footing.
The district has another parcel tax, passed in 2012, which generates about $1.9 million annually, and the district’s community foundation raises another $500,000 annually.
Despite the likely narrow margin of defeat for Measure H, McBride said he did not think that the district would race back to the ballot to float another measure, noting the great expense associated with calling an election.
“I don’t think the district is going to pay for another election,” he said, acknowledging the concerted fundraising effort which took place to afford the most recent campaign.
And while the upcoming March and November elections will likely feature high voter turnouts, McBride expected Redwood City school officials will remain on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.
“I think it is going to be a while,” he said, before another parcel tax benefiting Redwood City schools is floated.
Reflecting on the campaign, McBride questioned whether another program or service which could have been financed by the revenue would have helped build the support necessary for approval. But rather than focus on the shortcomings, McBride said he would prefer to express his appreciation for the volunteer and community efforts required to build the campaign and get the tax so close to passing.
“Rather than look at it as we lost, I’m looking at it as we had a lot of genuine, hardworking people. You’ve got to flip from the negative to the positive,” he said.
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