Palo Alto Unified School District Quality Public Education Preservation Act of 2010
To preserve excellence in core academic programs, including reading, writing, math, and science; reduce the impact of deep budget cuts with stable locally-controlled funding; minimize teacher layoffs and class size increases; continue teacher professional development; and help protect critical high school electives, including arts and music, shall the Palo Alto Unified School District renew and extend its expiring parcel tax for six years beginning as of July 1, 2010, increase the rate by $96 to a total of $589 per parcel per year, with an exemption for seniors, annual two percent escalation adjustments, and independent oversight? Said qualified special parcel tax would renew, extend, and replace the qualified special parcel tax approved by the voters of the District on June 7, 2005.
To provide local revenue that cannot be taken by the State and to maintain exceptional public education in our schools, the Palo Alto Unified School District proposes to renew and extend its expiring qualified special parcel tax for a period of 6 years, beginning July 1, 2010, at the rate of $589 per year on each assessor’s parcel located within the School District, with an optional exemption annually available, upon application, for senior citizens, and an annual two percent increase (rounded to the nearest dollar) to account for increasing student enrollment and the rising cost of providing programs, and to implement accountability measures in connection with the special parcel tax to provide oversight and accountability to ensure that funds are used to:
- Preserve excellence in core academic programs such as reading, writing, math, and science;
- Minimize class size increases in all grades and layoffs for dozens of teachers and school employees;
- Continue teacher professional development by providing training programs and activities that support high quality teaching;
- Help protect critical high school electives, including arts and music that provide a well-rounded education, challenge students, allow students to be highly competitive for colleges and university admissions, provide career vocational education that prepares students for the workforce and provide instructional
support for those struggling with the basics;
- Reduce the impact of deep budget cuts by providing a stable local funding source that cannot be taken away by the State or other school districts; and
- Protect the taxpayers’ investment in education and ensure District accountability by providing for oversight and independent financial audits of revenues and expenditures.
The Board of Education will utilize parcel tax proceeds for the purposes listed above, unless the Board of Education determines in any given year that changes in student population, fiscal constraints, or other changes in state or federal funding make doing so infeasible or inadvisable. In any event, the Board of Education will not fund any program or reduction other than those listed above from the proceeds of the special parcel taxes.
Subject to two thirds approval of the voters, the renewed and extended parcel tax shall become effective as of July 1, 2010 and be collected by the Santa Clara County Tax Collector at the same time as and along with, and shall be subject to the same penalties as general ad valorem taxes collected by said tax collector. The tax and penalty shall bear interest at the same rate as the rate for unpaid ad valorem property taxes until paid. Any tax levied shall become a lien upon the properties against which taxes are assessed and collectible as herein provided.
With respect to all general property tax matters within its jurisdiction, the Santa Clara County Tax Assessor or other appropriate County tax official (“County”) shall make all final determinations of tax exemption or relief for any reason, and that decision shall be final and binding. With respect to matters specific to the levy of the special parcel tax, including the Senior Citizen Exemption as allowed below, the decisions of the District shall be final and binding. The procedures described herein, and any additional procedures established by the Board of Education, shall be the exclusive claims procedure for claimants seeking an exemption, refund, reduction, or re-computation of the special parcel tax. Whether any particular claim is to be resolved by the District or by the County shall be determined by the District, in coordination with the County as necessary.
The District’s Board of Education may adopt such additional or supplemental procedures as it deems necessary or convenient for the
administration of the special parcel tax.
Optional Senior Citizen Exemption Available
An optional exemption from the special parcel tax will be made available annually to each individual in the District who will attain 65 years of age prior to July 1 of the tax year, and who owns a beneficial interest in the parcel, and who uses that parcel as his or her principal place of residence, and who applies to the School District on or before July 1, 2010, or July 1 of any succeeding tax year. Any application for such exemption must be renewed annually.
The District shall annually provide to the County Tax Collector or other appropriate County tax official a list of parcels that the District has approved for a Senior Citizen Exemption.
In accordance with the requirements of California Government Code sections 50075.1 and 50075.3, the following accountability measures, among others, shall apply to the special parcel taxes levied in accordance with this Measure: (a) the specific purposes of the special parcel tax shall be those purposes identified above; (b) the proceeds of the special parcel tax shall be applied only to those specific purposes identified above; (c) a separate, special account shall be created into which the proceeds of the special parcel taxes must be deposited; and (d) an annual written report shall be made to the Board of Education of the District showing (i) the amount of funds collected and expended from the proceeds of the special taxes and (ii) the status of any projects, programs, or purposes required or authorized to be funded from the proceeds of the special taxes, as identified above.
In addition to the accountability measures required by State law, an independent Community Oversight Committee shall be appointed by the Board of Education to advise the Board on the expenditures funded by the measure in order to help ensure that said funds are spent for the purposes approved by the voters. The Community Oversight Committee will monitor the expenditures of these funds by the District and will report on an annual basis to the Board and community on how these funds have been spent.
Protection of funding
Current law forbids any decrease in State or Federal funding to the District because of the District’s adoption of a parcel tax. However, if any such funds are reduced because of the adoption of this parcel tax, then the amount of the special parcel taxes will be reduced annually as necessary in order to restore such State or Federal funding.
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