School board against funding prop | SierraSun.com

School board against funding prop

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunStudents play on the swings at North Tahoe Middle School.

It sounds like a move in the right direction for educators ” an increase of $450 million in funding for the California public school system ” but the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District is opposing Proposition 88, the Classroom Learning and Accountability Act.

“It’s special-interest drawn and not what it seems,” said school board member Pat Gibbons-Johnson.

Proposition 88 would provide additional school funding for class size reduction, text books, school safety and data systems by placing a $50 tax on real property parcels.

The local sticking point is that the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District already receives revenue from a $98 per-parcel tax called Measure A that was passed by El Dorado, Placer and Nevada County voters in 2005.

Add another parcel tax and things can get pretty twisted, Gibbons-Johnson said.

“It would complicate our whole tax structure and we don’t want more bureaucracy in the middle of it,” she said. “It would be a mistake for us and we would have a lot more restrictions.”

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The school district will take an official stance on the proposition tonight at the board’s meeting, not only opposing the measure for local reasons, but agreeing with the California School Boards Association.

The association passed a resolution stating that it opposes Proposition 88 for reasons including the fact that “(the) initiative would inappropriately expand the role of the State Board of Education by requiring it to approve all instructional materials for all grade levels.”

Curriculum and instructional materials are currently selected by the district’s curriculum department based on the needs of local students and are then approved by the school board.

“They are trying to expand the roles of the state Department of Education,” Gibbons-Johnson said. “There is an attempt to go into the things that are locally determined in order to undercut existing examples.”

And school boards aren’t the only major bodies opposing the measure.

“It scares me when you have a new bureaucratic system developed to manage money because I wonder how much money actually gets to the schools directly,” said Tahoe Truckee High School teacher Larry Leatherman. “And it seems like everybody is opposing it ” the (state) PTA, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the AFL-CIO, Jarvis, the League of Women Voters.”

But supporters of Proposition 88, including Jack O’Connell, California state superintendent of public instruction, say that if the measure passes, fewer teachers will have to pay for additional school supplies out of their own pockets, and that schools will be safer and classroom sizes will be reduced.

“The proposition delivers additional resources that principals and teachers can decide how to spend. It can mean resources for an additional security guard, or resources for additional after-school programming,” said Steve O’Mara, communications associate for EdVoice, a nonprofit educational organization leading the pro-88 charge.

The proposition may seem well intended, Gibbons-Johnson said, but it’s not the answer for Truckee and North Shore schools.