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Millbrae school officials consider parcel tax
February 25, 2013, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff
Getting a parcel tax passed in Millbrae is a goal that has eluded school officials for years.

After a number of years of tight budgets, the district is considering another round with voters. On Monday, the Millbrae Elementary School District will hold a town hall meeting to discuss the feasibility of a future parcel tax. The talk, about the changes coming in education, is the first of a number of meetings that will be held should the district place a tax measure on a future ballot, said Superintendent Linda Luna.

More revenue could benefit the district in a number of ways.

For example, the district is currently at an impasse with teachers over contract negotiations.

The Millbrae Education Association declared impasse earlier this month after the two sides met for their sixth negotiation session.

The district offered a 2 percent ongoing salary increase in exchange for a cap on retiree health and welfare benefits when a retiree reaches 65 or after 10 years of receiving the benefit, whichever comes first. On the other hand, teachers are requesting a 3 percent ongoing salary increase and an increase in health and welfare benefits of $265 per month per member. Luna previously said the district couldn't afford the proposal.

Aside from pay for employees, new revenue could also allow the district to meet changing academic demands.

Reasons for a lack of funding don't change the need to meet 21st century learning requirements, said Luna.

At a study session earlier this month, the board discussed ways it could better the academic programming with things like extended-day preschool, offering staff development, or implementing programs such as music, art, technology and foreign language. In total that plan would cost $1.7 million to fund, according to the staff report.

Before putting anything on a ballot, the district is polling the community. Earlier this month, the board approved contracts with TBWB and Godbe Research to figure out the feasibility of a parcel tax. For TBWB, the base consulting fee is $6,500. For Godbe's research, the projected costs range from $20,240 to $23,370 for the entire scope of project, according to the staff report.

Results of the polls are expected to be shared with the board during the spring.

While Millbrae voters have been generally supportive of schools, the two-thirds threshold to pass a parcel tax has been too high.

Measure P, a $78-per-parcel tax put before voters in 2009, gained 66.3 percent support. In May 2007, voters also declined a proposed $78 annual, five-year parcel tax. The all-mail ballot showed 2,743 voters

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