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Tam High Lobbies for Parcel Tax With Open House

School opens its doors to hundreds of parents and families in an effort to raise awareness of the campus and its array of educational programs in advance of ballot measure to extend parcel tax.

With the Tamalpais Union High School District seeking a renewal of its longstanding parcel tax on the Nov. 8 ballot, Tam High looked to do its part Saturday by hosting an open house, hoping to show off its campus and educational programs and drum up support for the ballot measure.

"It's an opportunity for us to show off this amazing campus and some of the fantastic teachers anbd learning opportunities we have available here at Tam," Tam High Principal Tom Drescher said.

Hundreds of residents turned out to join organized campus tours and check out presentations and sample classes from Tam teachers. Leslie Hart and David Lapp taught introduction classes to chemistry and physics, respectively, while automotive technology teacher Lisa Miller showed off the school's spacious repair shop.

The district, which includes Tam, Drake, Redwood, Tamiscal and San Andreas high schools, is hoping to avoid major budget cuts along the lines of those it made in 2010.

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.

“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.”

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.

McCauley said that if for some reason the parcel tax renewal measure fails in November, the district could bring it back to voters for a special election in June 2012, though that would be a very costly measure.

More likely, the district would have to look at additional like those made in 2010, when it slashed more than $3.1 million from its budget by eliminating classified positions and cutting administrative staff by 30 percent, McCauley said.

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