Tahoe Truckee school district survey: Voters support higher tax for education (w/ update) | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee school district survey: Voters support higher tax for education (w/ update)

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

Courtesy of Tahoe Truckee Unified School DistrictFrom Aug. 25-29, FM3 completed a survey of 400 registered voters residing within the boundaries of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District who are likely to cast ballots in a March 2011 special election. The margin of sampling error is +- 4.9 percent. Some results do not total to 100 percent because of rounding.

UPDATE: 11:52 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Despite recent economic shortfalls, school district officials are voicing optimism after reading results of a voter poll that could indicate sustained funding for instructional materials and enrichment programs such as music, physical education, vocational education and technology.

In an Oct. 8 letter sent to parents, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Superintendent Steve Jennings announced that a poll administered by the consulting agency Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (FM3) showed that about 70 percent of the 400 district voters surveyed would accept a renewal and increase of Measure A, an annual parcel tax supporting a significant share of school programs.

and#8220;Virtually three-quarters of respondents believe local schools are in need of additional funding, and 70% of respondents agreed that they would support a seven-year extension of Measure A…,and#8221; said Jennings in the letter.

Seventy percent of respondents also said they’d be willing to increase Measure A from its current $98 per parcel fee to $135 for the next seven years, Jennings added.

and#8220;Obviously we were pleased with the polling results, though it’s obvious we still have a lot of work to do,and#8221; Jennings said in an interview this week. and#8220;The community is voicing support for the things Measure A has provided in the past.and#8221;

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Reaffirming his letter’s implication of a March 2011 special election, Jennings said the month is being targeted for the ballot measure.

The news follows months of worry that the economic climate would sway voters against the measure leaving the majority of its educational goods and services and#8212; including 35 full-time positions and#8212; on the chopping block.

Already this year, the school district will have to cut $2.8 million due to a loss in property tax revenue for reassessed homes. The loss in property tax revenue has increased since it was first reported in September at $2.5 million, said Steve Dickinson, superintendent of finances, in a Tuesday interview, after revenues were looked at with greater detail.

The loss has forced the district to compensate with reserves for this year and budget cuts for next, Dickinson said.

Considering the district’s roughly 37,000 parcels, if Measure A is approved by the two thirds majority required for adoption, it would generate $4.99 million per year, increasing revenue by about $1.29 million per year, constituting a 37 percent increase.

School district officials have said in previous Sierra Sun articles the raise is needed to sustain the same goods and services due to inflation and higher program costs. No new programs will be added.

and#8220;I think we were pleased with the results, but you always have to prepare for the worst,and#8221; Jennings said this week when asked if the district anticipated the high approval rate.

Should the ballot measure be approved in March, the funds would again be monitored and governed by the volunteer Citizens’ Review Committee and#8212; made up of parents, business people and educators from various school sites and#8212; to ensure proper use of the funds, Jennings said in his parent letter.