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Smart Voter
Santa Clara County, CA May 3, 2011 Election
Measure E
Parcel Tax
Los Altos Elementary School District

2/3 Approval Required

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

To protect excellent education in Los Altos elementary and junior high schools; preserve core academic programs in reading, writing, math and science; retain highly qualified teachers; and provide books and classroom materials, shall Los Altos School District levy an annual education parcel tax of $193 per parcel for six years, with independent citizen oversight, no funds for administrators' salaries, an exemption for senior citizens, and all funds used only for support of local elementary and junior high schools? (Yes/No)

Impartial Analysis from County Counsel
COUNTY COUNSEL'S IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS OF MEASURE E A school district, following notice and a public hearing, has authority to levy a special tax upon approval by two-thirds of the votes cast on the special tax proposal pursuant to section 4 of Article XIIIA of the California Constitution and sections 50075-50077, 50079, and 53722 of the California Government Code.

The Governing Board of the Los Altos School District ("District") proposes levying a qualified special tax on each parcel within the District. The owner(s) of each taxable parcel in the District would annually pay $193 per parcel for a period of 6 years, commencing July 1, 2011. Any parcels owned and occupied by persons age 65 or older may be exempt from this tax following application for an exemption pursuant to procedures described by the Governing Board or otherwise as required by law or by the Santa Clara County Tax Collector.

The purpose of the tax proposed by Measure E is to preserve core academic programs in reading, writing, math and science; retain qualified teachers; provide books and classroom materials; and provide other financial support to the extent funds are available to maintain academic programs and operations, including the purchase of instructional equipment and supplies. The special tax could not be used to pay administrators' salaries.

The proceeds of the special tax would be deposited into a separate fund. These proceeds would only be applied to the purposes identified above and an annual written report would be made to the Governing Board showing the amount of funds collected and expended from the proceeds of this tax, as well as the status of any projects, programs or purposes authorized to be funded by the District. By law, this report would be filed no later than January 1st each year. Additionally, if the special tax is approved, the Governing Board would appoint an independent Citizens' Oversight Committee, which could be the existing Citizens' Advisory Committee on Finance overseeing Measure H funds, to ensure the tax funds are used for the specific purposes approved by the voters. The Citizens' Oversight Committee would report annually to the Governing Board and community regarding the expenditure of these funds.

If the special tax is approved, the District's appropriations limit would be increased by an amount equal to the special tax collected for each year the special tax is authorized.

A "yes" vote is a vote to approve a qualified special tax of $193 per parcel per year within the District for a period of six years to be used to preserve core academic programs.

A "no" vote is a vote not to approve a qualified special tax of $193 per parcel per year within the District for a period of six years.

Miguel Marquez County Counsel By: /s/ Susan Swain

Senior Lead Deputy County Counsel

  Official Information

This is a copy of the official text of Measure E and there could be errors in the copying. For the official copy please contact the Los Altos School District office.
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Arguments For Measure E Arguments Against Measure E
ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE E Outstanding academic programs in science, math, reading and writing enable Los Altos School District elementary and middle school students to earn excellent scores on statewide exams. Our local schools are among the top 1% in the state.

Vote YES on Measure E to provide stable, local funding that cannot be taken away by the state to protect high quality education in Los Altos schools.

Independent citizen oversight ensures all funds are targeted to the classroom--not one penny can pay for administrators' salaries.

Our exceptional public schools draw families to our community, making our neighborhoods desirable places to live while preserving our property values.

Historically, our community support for education has created renowned public schools that consistently achieve excellence due to outstanding educational programs and experienced, qualified teachers. Measure E ensures this tradition of excellence continues.

We cannot rely on state funding to keep our Los Altos schools among the best. Due to recent budget cuts, our schools have been forced to eliminate teaching positions, shorten the school year and limit classroom supplies and books.

Your YES vote provides stable education funding to preserve the academic excellence our community supports and expects from our schools.

Vote YES on Measure E to:

  • Preserve outstanding core academic programs in reading, writing, math and science
  • Retain highly qualified teachers
  • Provide books and classroom materials

Measure E is Fiscally Sound
  • All funds stay in Los Altos schools--not one penny can be taken away by the state
  • No funds pay administrators' salaries
  • Measure E expires in six years
  • Senior citizens may receive an exemption
  • Independent citizen oversight ensures funds are spent as promised

We may not all agree on everything in our community, but business leaders, elected officials, parents, teachers and senior citizens all agree: vote YES on Measure E to keep Los Altos schools strong.

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE E - Continued For more information visit

/s/ Robin Abrams Chair, Citizens' Advisory Committee on Finance /s/ Robert A. Grimm Retired, 48-year Los Altos Resident /s/ Glenn Goldberg Board President, Los Altos Educational Foundation, LASD Parent /s/ Roy E. Lave Former Mayor, Los Altos /s/ Dean Warshawsky Former Mayor, Town of Los Altos Hills

Rebuttal to Arguments For
REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE E We support public education. Quality teachers and programs are essential. However--

LASD's data reveals excessive spending Outside the Classroom, not revenue shortfalls.


1. Fiscal Responsibility First! LASD states "Our first option is a parcel tax increase."1 Typical homeowners already pay thousands in property taxes, $597 in parcel taxes, and over $1,000 for school bonds2. A parcel tax increase to $790, one of California's three highest3, is an unsupportable burden that may lower home values and raise rents.

2. Reform Bad Practices, Don't Enable Them: Regardless of performance, union members get tenure after just 2 years, guaranteed meritless pay increases, retirement at 55, and medical/dental for life. LASD admits "We have a rich employee benefits program"1 - LASD's actuary projects the current value of promised benefits at $19.3M2 -- 95% of which is unfunded2. LASD must renegotiate their unsustainable union agreement first!

3. STOP Firing Great Teachers! High performing teachers are critical to learning. Yet, the union requires that even high performing recent hires are laid off first, protecting expensive, tenured underperformers. Don't enable archaic practices to continue.

4. Victim of State Cuts? Only 5% of LASD's budget comes from the State2. 64% comes from local property taxes2, which increase an average 8.72% annually2. With this dramatic funding growth and flat student enrollment2, LASD can provide the high quality education our children deserve without new taxes.

Sources: 1LASD Financial Report 12/6/2010 2LASD 2010-11 Budget. 6/21/2010 3Edsource Parcel Taxes 9/2009

/s/ Linda G. Swan Taxpayer /s/ Courtenay C. Corrigan Taxpayer


We oppose this tax, which brings the total school parcel tax to $790 per parcel. As taxpayers we all need to live within a budget, the school district should be no different. While it's true that the state is cutting education funding and as a result education is not "business as usual", the bulk of LASD funding comes from local property taxes, not Sacramento. Our assessed property values have increased at a rate of over 8% annually for the last 10 years while student enrollment in the school district has only grown at 1% per year.

/s/ Linda G. Swan Taxpayer

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE E Unlike many public schools in California, Los Altos School District offers children a uniquely rigorous education due to local control of education funding. Strong student achievement is the proof: LASD's student test scores rose again last year for the 4th year in a row.

We believe all Los Altos children deserve a top-notch education. That's why we're voting YES on Measure E to protect academic excellence in our neighborhoods.

A YES vote on Measure E means greater local control over school funding. No Measure E funds can be taken by the state or pay for administrators' salaries. Independent citizen oversight ensures all funds support student achievement.

It's true that multiple sources of funding support our schools--state, federal and local. Yet, when any source of education funding decreases, our schools face cuts.

We all know that state funding for education has been slashed in recent years. Los Altos schools face a minimum of $4 million in cuts next school year.

Our community joins together to protect education for local children. Parents fundraise year after year, and teachers agreed to take a pay reduction.

Measure E is a community contribution to student success, which constitutes a $16 per month increase in local funding for our schools to support outstanding core academic programs and excellent classroom instruction--the fundamental necessities for a solid education.

Join us, Vote YES on Measure E for Los Altos kids.

/s/ Elena Shea LA-MV PTA Council President /s/ Samuel Pesner Los Altos Business Owner /s/ Margaret Abe-Koga Mountain View City Councilmember, Mayor 2009 /s/ Stephen Borel Fick Senior VP, Borel Bank, Los Altos Office /s/ Liz Henry Retired - 31 year Los Altos Hills Resident

Full Text of Measure E

This Proposition may be known and referred to as the "Los Altos School District Excellence in Education Act of 2011" or as "Measure E".


The Governing Board (the "Board") of the Los Altos School District (the "District") has established the goals of improving academic performance and the quality of education for all children in the District.

In support of these goals, since 1989, the Board has proposed and the community has overwhelmingly supported supplemental educational funding for neighborhood schools for kindergarten through eighth grade, including the funds needed to maintain neighborhood schools, retain highly qualified teachers, and protect, preserve and improve classroom and library programs.

The community recognizes the positive impact of excellent schools on the quality of life in the District, and that a superior and comprehensive education program delivers many benefits to all the residents of our community.

The District seeks to maintain excellent schools at a time when the California Legislature is again unable to provide adequate funding for the operation of the schools in the District.

Property values in the District are supported and enhanced by strong schools, and may be adversely affected by a decline in the quality of education provided by the District.


Upon approval of two-thirds of those voting on this Proposition, the District shall be authorized to levy a qualified special tax (education parcel tax) annually in the amount of $193 on each parcel of taxable real property in the District for six years commencing July 1, 2011.


Proceeds raised under this Proposition shall be authorized to be used to provide financial support to Los Altos elementary and junior high schools and school programs, but with no funds for administrators' salaries, as follows:

  • preserve core academic programs in reading, writing, math and science

  • retain qualified teachers

  • provide books and classroom materials

and to provide other financial support to the extent of available funds to maintain the District's academic programs and operations, including the purchase of instructional equipment and supplies.


In order to provide tax relief to senior citizens in the community, any parcel owned and occupied by a person 65 years of age or older shall be exempt from the education parcel tax upon proper application to the District. The exemption shall be available pursuant to procedures to be prescribed from time to time by the Governing Board or otherwise as required by law or by the Santa Clara County Tax Collector.


Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee. The Governing Board shall establish an independent Citizens' Oversight Committee (which may be the existing Citizens' Advisory Committee on Finance overseeing Measure H funds) to review the Annual Audit and other records of how moneys raised under this Proposition have been spent in order to ensure that such moneys have been spent only for the purposes named in this Proposition. The Governing Board shall provide by resolution for the composition, duties, funding and other necessary information regarding the Committee's formation and operation.

Annual Audit. Upon the levy and collection of the education parcel tax, the Governing Board shall cause an account to be established for deposit of the proceeds, pursuant to Government Code Section 50075.1. For so long as any proceeds remain unexpended, the Superintendent or the chief financial officer of the District shall cause a report to be filed with the Governing Board no later than December 31 of each year, commencing December 31, 2011, stating (1) the amount collected and expended in such year, and (2) the status of any projects or description of any programs funded. The report may relate to the calendar year, fiscal year, or other appropriate annual period, as said officer shall determine, and may be incorporated into or filed with the annual budget, audit, or other appropriate routine report to the Governing Board.

Specific Purposes. All of the purposes named in this Proposition shall constitute the specific purposes of the education parcel tax, and proceeds thereof shall be applied only for such purposes.


The education parcel tax shall be collected by the Santa Clara County Tax Collector at the same time and in the same manner and shall be subject to the same penalties as ad valorem property taxes collected by the Tax Collector. Unpaid taxes shall bear interest at the same rate as the rate for unpaid ad valorem property taxes until paid.

"Parcel of taxable real property" shall be defined as any unit of real property in the District which receives a separate tax bill for ad valorem property taxes from the Santa Clara County Tax Collector. "Parcel of taxable real property" shall exclude all parcels which are otherwise exempt from or on which are levied no ad valorem property taxes in any year, and all parcels which qualify for the Senior Citizen Exemption provided by this Proposition in any year.

The District shall annually provide a list of parcels to the Santa Clara County assessment and tax collection officials which the District has approved for a Senior Citizen Exemption from the education parcel

COMPLETE TEXT OF MEASURE E - Continued tax as described above. The Santa Clara County Assessor's determination of exemption or relief of any parcel from taxation for any reason, other than by the Senior Citizen Exemption, shall be final and binding for the purposes of the education parcel tax. Taxpayers wishing to challenge the County Assessor's determination must do so under the procedures for correcting a misclassification of property pursuant to Section 4876.5 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code or other applicable procedures. Taxpayers seeking a refund shall follow the procedures applicable to property tax refunds pursuant to the California Revenue and Taxation Code.


If, in any fiscal year during the term of the education parcel tax, the State Legislature or Governor shall approve any law or take any action the effect of which shall be to deprive the District of the benefit of any proceeds of the education parcel tax, whether by directly taking such proceeds for any State purpose or by taking such proceeds into account for purposes of calculating State support of the District under Section 8 of Article XVI or under any program of categorical aid, special aid or other special programs, then the Governing Board shall reduce the rate of the education parcel tax commensurately.


The Governing Board shall provide in each year (pursuant to Section 7902.1 of the Government Code or any successor provision of law) for any increase in the District's appropriations limit as shall be necessary to ensure that proceeds of the education parcel tax, and of all qualified special taxes levied by the District, may be spent for the authorized purposes, and an election shall be conducted by the District for such purpose only if required by the general laws of the State applicable to school district qualified special taxes. This provision shall be deemed to be declaratory of existing procedures governing District expenditures.


The Governing Board hereby declares, and the voters by approving this Proposition concur, that every section, paragraph, sentence and clause of this Proposition has independent value, and the Governing Board and the voters would have adopted each provision hereof regardless of every other provision hereof. Upon approval of this Proposition by the voters, should any part be found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid for any reason, all remaining parts hereof shall remain in full force and effect to the fullest extent allowed by law.

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Created: August 25, 2011 19:49 PDT
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