Julie Kertzman can do the math.
With approximately 3,800 students attending the five schools in the Tamalpais Union High School District, the vast majority of the 77,000 voters within the district are not parents of current students. That means Kertzman and the rest of the members of the committee to pass on the Nov. 8 ballot, have plenty of work to do in getting the word out.
They’re planning four nights of phone banking next week and are distributing signs all over the expansive district, which includes Tam, Drake, Redwood, Tamiscal and San Andreas high schools.
“We’re doing a full court press,” she said. “And we really look to our alums and parents of alums to help us get beyond the parent community.”
The measure requires a two-thirds majority of voters to pass, a mark was achieved easily in both its first passage in 1989 and subsequent renewals in 1997 and 2004. If approved, the parcel tax would start at $245.94 in July 2012 and rise by 3 percent annually for 10 years. Seniors are eligible for an exemption.
Kertzman said a big obstacle for the committee is explaining to voters the difference between a parcel tax and a bond measure, the latter of which paid for the eight-year, $100 million renovation of the Tam High campus. Parcel taxes are specific to the district’s operating budget and educational expenses.
“That’s one thing we keep finding that makes us pull our hair our out,” Kertzman said, noting that at the earlier this month, many guests looked at the gleaming campus and asked, “Why do you need more money?”
Joe Salama, a member of the association’s board, emphasized that the group is pro-student.
“But we think that given how the expenses are going, it doesn’t make sense to enable that any further,” he said. “Everybody’s first priority is the students, including ours. But we don’t think that the best way is to keep enabling bad budget management.”
The current parcel tax of $238.78 tax expires June 30, 2012. It provides about $8.5 million a year in funding, or more than 16 percent of the district’s total $52 million annual budget. The tax is used to pay for keeping student-to-teacher ratios below around 28-to-1, as well as funding programs like science and technology, social studies, foreign language, performing arts, Advanced Placement and honors courses, counseling services, fine arts and alternative education.
“Our five high schools will look very different if it doesn’t pass,” TUHSD Board President Cindy McCauley said. “We know that times are tough right now for individual property owners, so we aren’t looking for a bunch of additional money. But we need it.”