School Parcel Taxes Passes by a Hair

Arcadia voters approved Measure A by a 1 percent margin.

Updated 4 p.m. with statement from School Board President Janet Chew.

Voters on Tuesday narrowly approved a tax of $228 per parcel annually for five years that will generate an estimated $3.4 million for the Arcadia Unified School District.

Semi-official results from the Los Angeles County registrar show Measure A passed with 67.61 percent of the vote. The measure needed two-thirds, or, 66 percent, of the vote to pass. The County reported 9,219 ballots were cast, for a voter turn out of 32.22 percent.

Provisional ballots will be counted this week, and the election results updated Friday on the County's website.

Superintendent Joel Shawn said he was "thrilled with the overwhelming support" the community showed to the district by passing Measure A.

"I am in awe of the work done by volunteers, AUSD Staff and community members on behalf of Measure A and want to thank each and every one of them," Shawn said in an email Wednesday. "And, I want to thank the Arcadia community for its support of the school district. AUSD is a great district to a large degree because of the support we get from parents, community members, and the city of Arcadia."

AUSD's revenue has declined rapidly in recent years, making it difficult for the district to maintain its current level of service with the funding it receives from the state.

AUSD has a deficit of $7 million and has cut $17 million from its budget since the 2007-08 school year. The district also imposed several furlough days this year.

The new tax, which goes into effect July 1, will give the district a much-needed boost in flexible revenue.

Unlike a bond measure, which districts can only use to fund school construction projects, the revenue from the parcel tax can be spent on teacher salaries, music education, or intervention programs.

The district launched an aggressive campaign to pass Measure A, even seeking the guidance of top political consulting firm TBWB Strategies. School officials also enlisted the help of an army of involved parents and prominent citizens—including several members of the City Council—to assist in the campaign for Measure A.

Now that Measure A has passed, in the coming months, the school board will decide how best to spend the money. School Board President Janet Chew called the community "the clear winner" in the fight to pass Measure A.

"The many hours of work that our parent, student, and staff volunteers put in and the support from our entire community combine to demonstrate the value that we place on our schools and what an integral part they play in the strength of this community which we love," she wrote an e-mail to Patch. "Through this hard work and coming together, we have shown our commitment to the education of our children and our future."

Natalie Ragus (Editor) March 14, 2012 at 10:58 PM
I'm so glad this passed!
Joseph Probst March 15, 2012 at 01:14 AM
67.61% of the vote is not a win by a "Hair." This is a significant win for the children of Arcadia USD driven by voters that care for their community and education. I hope voters all over California will see the importance of education as the voters of Arcadia have done.
Larry Steimle March 15, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Why do I sense that politicians are laughing at us sheep who have been snookered again by an appeal to our emotions instead of our intellect? Why not let the 67.61% send their checks directly to AUSD and save the cost of collecting and accounting that the LA County Tax Collector will have to do? I wonder if that cost would amount to about 33%. Will we ever know? It is so easy to spend other people's money.
Natalie Ragus (Editor) March 15, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Hi Joseph! I just want to say that I really respect all the hard work parents, community members, teachers, administrators, staff, EVERYONE put into the Measure A campaign. The headline was NOT meant to undermine this effort AT ALL. However, I stand by the accuracy in the headline because the Measure did pass with a narrow margin of 1%.
Natalie Ragus (Editor) March 15, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Hi Larry! I understand your frustrations over having property taxes raised for schools, but you have to see the benefit to the community. When a community has famously good schools (like Arcadia does), EVERYONE benefits in some way, whether you're a parent or never intend to have children, homeowner or renter, etc.
Larry Steimle March 15, 2012 at 07:58 PM
So friends and neighbors, 6,199 registered voters in Arcadia School District voted Yes to raise our taxes. That means 21.7% of the registered voters have forced all of us to pay $228 per parcel per year for 5 years additional property tax. 68% of registered voters didn't bother to vote. Why? I have no idea. Why not require 2/3rds of the registered voters? That would mean 19058 Yes votes would be needed to pass. Okay, I've vented and will let this go...until I get my exemption form which I will make available on line to all who might be interested. Larry Steimle


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