As thousands of local residents seek and on Memorial Day at the , one organization will be there with its eye on the Nov. 6 election.
"Protect Mill Valley Schools," a campaign to win voter approval for the $196 parcel tax, launched this week in an effort to reach voters before school lets out and summer vacations begin. The early start is prompted by a tight fall timeline. Due to the , school starts Sept. 10, less than a month before absentee ballots go out.
A coalition of parents, teachers, administrators and local leaders announced the campaign launch Wednesday, making the case for the parcel tax around a central message: ensure local control, avoid cuts to core educational programs and retain quality teachers. The district that is projected to grow to $1.5 million in each of the next two years.
“The main thing that the parcel tax will do is protect what we have – it won’t enhance anything – and it’s money that can’t be taken away by the state,” said campaign coordinator Mari Allen, an parent.
Though it will be relatively low-key through the middle of the summer, the campaign plans to be very visible over the next several weeks, Allen said. That includes a booth at the after the , with parents getting the word out and providing residents with voter registration cards.
“We just have such a short window between when school begins and when the absentee ballots go out that we want to reach people before people head off on vacation,” Allen said of the early start.
District officials say the parcel tax would generate about $1.9 million annually for local elementary and middle schools. The current parcel tax is $731, so if approved the new tax would be $927 per parcel. It would expire after eight years. Homeowners 65 years or older can apply for an exemption.
The campaign launch comes on the heels of a number of moves designed to present a united front to voters in the fall, with each component of the school district community stepping up to do their part.
That includes to furloughs, salary reductions and paying a higher percentage of the rising costs of medical coverage. Administrators also agreed to take two furlough days next year. Classified employees are in the midst of similar negotiations with the district.
"We have worked hard to keep cuts away from the classroom, but without additional resources, class sizes will continue to grow and our treasured educational programs will be impacted," Kim Kirley, a kindergarten teacher at and Mill Valley Teachers Association co-president, said in a statement.
In addition, , including up to $450,000 for physical education in addition to all arts education and funding for technology programs. The Mill Valley Council of PTAs has agreed to raise an additional $60 per student commitment from for materials and supplies for kindergarten through fifth grade, and $67 per student in sixth through eighth grade.
The campaign has landed early support from a number of prominent local residents, including City Councilmembers Ken Wachtel and Stephanie Moulton-Peters, as well as former owner Bob Canepa.
"Good schools are good for business," Canepa said in a statement. "Part of what makes this town special is the quality of our local schools and value we place on education."
For more info on the campaign, go to the Protect Mill Valley Schools' website.