District Debates Parcel Tax Renewal and Valley Oak Parcel Tax Wording

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Last night the Davis Joint Unified School District took up the issue of polling to determine a number of issues involved with the renewal of the parcel tax.

They have hired a firm to conduct a survey that will question 400 registered voters on a number of issues including how much to raise the parcel tax by in order to accommodate the increase in the cost of living, district priorities, and they will also explore changing the term of the parcel tax from a four year term to perhaps a six or eight year term depending on the responses of the public. The responses would be accurate to a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent within a 95 percent confidence interval.

Currently, the parcel tax represents roughly 5.5 percent of the district’s revenue. It is assessed at $166.90 per parcel in the past measure and the renewal would add an additional 20 dollars to this tax–a modest increase that represents a basic COLA increase.

The parcel tax must be very specific in terms of what it funds. At the elementary school level it helps fund classroom size reduction and an elementary reading program. At the secondary level it funds the seventh period for the junior, extended hours for the library and help for at-risk kids. In addition it funds $20 per student for classroom supplies district-wide, technology, counseling, nurses, and training for teachers. (For a full list click here).

The poll will ascertain the public level of commitment those things the parcel tax currently funds. In addition, the board will come up with an additional 20-25 items that it could potentially fund based on community input from various meetings. The pollster will also ask a two open-ended questions to ascertain whether there are other priorities that the public has that the board perhaps has not considered.

Board Member Gina Daleiden mentioned to me that the public can give direct input to the district through the district website, the website directs people to email the district.

Without this parcel tax the district would be in serious financial jeopardy. The problems that the district faces now, pale in comparison to the problems that it would face if the parcel tax were to fail.

The most interesting and also the most contentious part of the discussion last night focus around the second parcel tax and Valley Oak.

They will specifically test separately for the Valley Oak parcel tax. What was perhaps most interesting is that contrary to the concerns raised last week by Board Member Keltie Jones, the consultant said that it has been his experience, particularly in Minnesota that the primary tax gets a bump from a second tax that is tied into it, rather than is harmed of. This represents a general measure of support for education in general. The first proposal gets a boost and in fact the passage of both becomes more likely when they are put on the ballot together than if they were test separately.

Board President Jim Provenza wanted different ways of phrasing the initiative tested–would calling it a nine school initiative be more successful than a tax to keep Valley Oak open. The consultant suggested that almost all language was completely testable in these surveys.

Board Member Sheila Allen flatly stated that she thought a Valley Oak only initiative would lose but a neighborhood schools initiative would pass.

Both Gina Daleiden and Keltie Jones were concerned about language not being misleading. Jones pressed for the language to be that of the initiative and in fact at times seemed very much against even having a ballot. The concern of Daleiden was mostly to be sure that the board not mislead the public.

They made it clear that the motion that was passed was to close Valley Oak unless the public decided it was a priority to keep it open and fund it. It seemed that the board consensus was that they would make it work if the public were willing to increase taxes to fund it. Tim Taylor, who made the original motion, said he was heartened by the consultants comments that the duel measures actually improved chances of passage rather than the other way around.

One thing I think that the board lost sight of somewhat is that the purpose of a poll should be to obtain as much information as possible rather than needing to get the wording for the initiative exactly right before hand. They need to know what the public is willing to support and what their priorities are. Based on that information they can then make informed decisions about what should or should not be on the ballot. But in the meantime, they should ask every question. That means ask the public about the second parcel tax in as many different ways as possible to see what the public will support and what the public wants. And as Provenza and other suggested, do not put a measure for Valley Oak parcel tax on the ballot that will likely fail if you can avoid it.

Keltie Jones suggested that they needed to be the ones to make the decision on priorities and they should not simply base it on the poll. One thing that I suggest is that a poll might tell the board that the public has different priorities from them and that might be very useful information and they may indeed want to make decisions based on the information that the public gives them. That is perfectly legitimate in my view.

Members of the public from Valley Oak seemed concerned by some of this discussion. Fred Buderi of Davis OPEN also suggested they might test a single-ballot initiative with the entire increase encompassed within it. He pointed out that in fact some of the general parcel tax funding provisions went to some students and not the entire student population. I think that is also something that could be tested although from what the consultant said, it may be better to have both ballot measures–which is certainly a bit counterintuitive. I think most assumed that two would be more difficult to pass than one and that it might even jeopardize the one. It would be ironic if the opposite were the case.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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16 thoughts on “District Debates Parcel Tax Renewal and Valley Oak Parcel Tax Wording”

  1. davisite

    If Taylor et al are indeed “heartened” by the consultant’s viewpoint, ie that the probability of passage is improved by having two separate tax measures, then it should be no problem to reverse their relationship on the ballot… the general parcel tax passes only if the VO tax measure also passes.

  2. davisite

    If Taylor et al are indeed “heartened” by the consultant’s viewpoint, ie that the probability of passage is improved by having two separate tax measures, then it should be no problem to reverse their relationship on the ballot… the general parcel tax passes only if the VO tax measure also passes.

  3. davisite

    If Taylor et al are indeed “heartened” by the consultant’s viewpoint, ie that the probability of passage is improved by having two separate tax measures, then it should be no problem to reverse their relationship on the ballot… the general parcel tax passes only if the VO tax measure also passes.

  4. davisite

    If Taylor et al are indeed “heartened” by the consultant’s viewpoint, ie that the probability of passage is improved by having two separate tax measures, then it should be no problem to reverse their relationship on the ballot… the general parcel tax passes only if the VO tax measure also passes.

  5. Anonymous

    It is indeed counterintuitive. Let us consider how many times in the past we can remember consultants arriving at a CLEARLY alternative conclusion to the Davis governing body majority that hired them. Please help me out here.. none immediately comes to mind.

  6. Anonymous

    It is indeed counterintuitive. Let us consider how many times in the past we can remember consultants arriving at a CLEARLY alternative conclusion to the Davis governing body majority that hired them. Please help me out here.. none immediately comes to mind.

  7. Anonymous

    It is indeed counterintuitive. Let us consider how many times in the past we can remember consultants arriving at a CLEARLY alternative conclusion to the Davis governing body majority that hired them. Please help me out here.. none immediately comes to mind.

  8. Anonymous

    It is indeed counterintuitive. Let us consider how many times in the past we can remember consultants arriving at a CLEARLY alternative conclusion to the Davis governing body majority that hired them. Please help me out here.. none immediately comes to mind.

  9. Anonymous

    The proposed Valley Oak parcel tax measure is nothing more than political cover for Gina Daleiden, Tim Taylor and Keltie Jones. No matter how they spin it, it won’t pass, and it’s not intended to. You have a majority of the BOE stating that Davis doesn’t need Valley Oak, they have already voted to shut it down, and on April 5 – even before tax measure is drafted – they will direct district staff to start dismantling the school (the ‘scaling up’ of Korematsu will take in a third or more of the VO students per grade level, teachers will move, etc). Because this is Davis, the Board had to at least create a pretense of giving the VO community a voice, but Jim Provenza nailed it when he said that Tim Taylor’s proposal was setting up VO for failure. Ask Gina Daleiden where she thinks things currently stand – the vote was taken, Valley Oak IS closing, and there is no plan B for the district to deal with passage of the “Valley Oak parcel tax”.

  10. Anonymous

    The proposed Valley Oak parcel tax measure is nothing more than political cover for Gina Daleiden, Tim Taylor and Keltie Jones. No matter how they spin it, it won’t pass, and it’s not intended to. You have a majority of the BOE stating that Davis doesn’t need Valley Oak, they have already voted to shut it down, and on April 5 – even before tax measure is drafted – they will direct district staff to start dismantling the school (the ‘scaling up’ of Korematsu will take in a third or more of the VO students per grade level, teachers will move, etc). Because this is Davis, the Board had to at least create a pretense of giving the VO community a voice, but Jim Provenza nailed it when he said that Tim Taylor’s proposal was setting up VO for failure. Ask Gina Daleiden where she thinks things currently stand – the vote was taken, Valley Oak IS closing, and there is no plan B for the district to deal with passage of the “Valley Oak parcel tax”.

  11. Anonymous

    The proposed Valley Oak parcel tax measure is nothing more than political cover for Gina Daleiden, Tim Taylor and Keltie Jones. No matter how they spin it, it won’t pass, and it’s not intended to. You have a majority of the BOE stating that Davis doesn’t need Valley Oak, they have already voted to shut it down, and on April 5 – even before tax measure is drafted – they will direct district staff to start dismantling the school (the ‘scaling up’ of Korematsu will take in a third or more of the VO students per grade level, teachers will move, etc). Because this is Davis, the Board had to at least create a pretense of giving the VO community a voice, but Jim Provenza nailed it when he said that Tim Taylor’s proposal was setting up VO for failure. Ask Gina Daleiden where she thinks things currently stand – the vote was taken, Valley Oak IS closing, and there is no plan B for the district to deal with passage of the “Valley Oak parcel tax”.

  12. Anonymous

    The proposed Valley Oak parcel tax measure is nothing more than political cover for Gina Daleiden, Tim Taylor and Keltie Jones. No matter how they spin it, it won’t pass, and it’s not intended to. You have a majority of the BOE stating that Davis doesn’t need Valley Oak, they have already voted to shut it down, and on April 5 – even before tax measure is drafted – they will direct district staff to start dismantling the school (the ‘scaling up’ of Korematsu will take in a third or more of the VO students per grade level, teachers will move, etc). Because this is Davis, the Board had to at least create a pretense of giving the VO community a voice, but Jim Provenza nailed it when he said that Tim Taylor’s proposal was setting up VO for failure. Ask Gina Daleiden where she thinks things currently stand – the vote was taken, Valley Oak IS closing, and there is no plan B for the district to deal with passage of the “Valley Oak parcel tax”.

  13. Anonymous

    Remember the citizen “uprising” that caused the council majority of Asmundson, Puntillo and Boyd to reverse their decision supporting the Level 4 biohazard lab proposed for the UCD campus? This decision to close Valley Oak Elementary has the same political “feel” and seriously threatens the passage of the the school board’s parcel tax measure.

  14. Anonymous

    Remember the citizen “uprising” that caused the council majority of Asmundson, Puntillo and Boyd to reverse their decision supporting the Level 4 biohazard lab proposed for the UCD campus? This decision to close Valley Oak Elementary has the same political “feel” and seriously threatens the passage of the the school board’s parcel tax measure.

  15. Anonymous

    Remember the citizen “uprising” that caused the council majority of Asmundson, Puntillo and Boyd to reverse their decision supporting the Level 4 biohazard lab proposed for the UCD campus? This decision to close Valley Oak Elementary has the same political “feel” and seriously threatens the passage of the the school board’s parcel tax measure.

  16. Anonymous

    Remember the citizen “uprising” that caused the council majority of Asmundson, Puntillo and Boyd to reverse their decision supporting the Level 4 biohazard lab proposed for the UCD campus? This decision to close Valley Oak Elementary has the same political “feel” and seriously threatens the passage of the the school board’s parcel tax measure.

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