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Cotati-Rohnert Park schools planning parcel tax

The closed La Fiesta school in Rohnert Park (PD File, 2007)

By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Cotati-Rohnert Park School District is moving forward with plans to put a parcel tax on the June ballot.

The five-member board on Wednesday unanimously agreed to ask voters to support a $89-per-parcel tax for five years, a move that officials believe could bring in $5.3 million over that span.

A recent feasibility study left officials feeling “confident” voters would rally behind the measure, said first-year Superintendent Robert Haley.

“But it’s a feasibility study. Ultimately, the test is at the ballot box,” he said.

Sonoma County’s third-largest school district is making dramatic moves to shore up its financial footing and stop declining enrollment.

Cotati-Rohnert Park is the only district in the county to be in what the state calls a negative financial status, meaning it is not projected to meet minimum reserve and cash flow requirements over two years.

District officials are preparing to cut $2.1 million from the about $43.2 million budget for 2012-2013.

“The difficulty for us is we really don’t have another place to cut,” said Anne Barron, the district’s chief business official. “We feel like we lose students every time we do those things.”

The district has shuttered two elementary schools and one middle school since 2008. It has increased class size, slashed teacher pay while increasing their benefit contributions, cut instructional days from the school calendar and axed support for some sports.

Down from its peak of about 8,300 students in 1999, the district has 5,900 students and expects to enroll 5,450 in the 2013-2014 school year. Haley has identified 761 students who live within district boundaries but are enrolled in other public schools. That number does not include students who attend private and charter schools.

District officials have held a series of community meetings to gauge interest in re-opening La Fiesta Elementary School. Other options would reconfigure three elementary schools, turning Thomas Page into a kindergarten through eighth-grade campus and restructuring the John Reed and Waldo Rohnert schools, focusing one on kindergarten through third grade and the other on fourth through sixth grade.

While those discussions continue, board President Ed Gilardi said the district’s primary use of parcel tax revenue would be retaining programs and teachers, not adding extras.

“I would love to say, ‘Oh, yes, we are going to add this and that.’ But our priority is to maintain our programs and keep what we have and prevent any future damage the state cuts could have on us,” he said.

The district last put a parcel tax to voters in 2005 — an effort that failed by 26 votes.

Gilardi was part of that effort seven years ago, calling it a “painful memory.”

“It seems, from my point of view, that there is much greater buy-in, not only within the district, but within the community,” he said.

A parcel tax, which requires approval from two-thirds of voters in the district, would assess a flat rate for every property and could be used to fund teachers, programs and supplies.

The board still must craft the language of the tax measure and submit it to county election officials. The deadline for submitting items for the June 5 election is March 9.

Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com.





15 Responses to “Cotati-Rohnert Park schools planning parcel tax”

  1. David says:

    $7,500 per student and they still can’t get the job done. Maybe they should learn to do with less. The rest of America is making due, why can’t the schools learn to stretch their dollars?

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Taxed Fish says:

    Just look around the state at the blooming parcel tax scam. IT can go from $100 to $1000 in few years once they get the voting block! The school wants it, the city wants it because they are incompetent in manageing our taxpayer dollars. It’s for them and their careers and the unions.IF it was for the children our kids would be the smartest and most repscted in the country. The system is at failure status.

    NO ON ALL TAX INCREASES.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  3. Kim says:

    Canthisbe…Outstanding! Now why the heck didn’t I think of that! ;-)
    Boy ‘o boy, I’ll use that in the future!

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. Money Grubber says:

    NEWS ALERT:

    The non partisan California State Legislative Analysts Office released its
    report yesterday that the deficit for the state of California is BILLIONS of dollars more in the red and in debt than Governor Brown is claiming.

    That tax increase the Gov wants this next election won’t even cover the additional BILLIONS in spending debt that the report exposes.

    So there is your government at work in its usual criminal fashion. Try to get the voters to surrender more of THEIR money so the government does not have to think about what they are doing.

    Vote NO on tax increases. The criminal state and local government are liars and thieves who are experts at the lie and the insincere smile.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  5. John Hudson says:

    We spend at least $120 per month just on gasoline to drive our son to the Santa Rosaa Charter School (SRCS)so thqt he can have a better education than available in the Cotati-Rohnert Park District (RP). there are 21 kids in his class instead of 30 or more in the RP schools. SRCS consistently gets the second highest STAR test scores in the county after Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts.Charter schools are public schools run by the parents instead of educrats. There is one principal and one administraative assistant. The money is spent in the classroom instead of on a bloated bureaucracy as in the RP District schools. If I thought that this parcel would provide a decent educational experience for our son I would support it just to save money on gas. If we could send our son to the
    District schools we would save at least $110 a month after paying the parcel tax. However, this tax will only result in more of the same. The only way to force a bloated, self-serving bureaucracy to change is to take away the money.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 5

  6. Jim says:

    @theresa…

    You are correct that those who don’t own property will probably vote for the tax increase. What they overlook, which isn’t surprising given most voters are morons, is that when these kinds of taxes hit my property tax bill, I pass the cost directly to the renter.

    If it is “only” $89 per parcel, then those who rent won’t mind when their rent increases by at least that much. The renters fail to understand this.

    Thumb up 26 Thumb down 3

  7. theresa says:

    Given that there is already a $315 CRPUSD charge on my property tax bill, it is unlikely that I will vote in favor of paying even more. Maybe they hope the people who do not own property will vote for it since they have a say but evetually won’t have to pay.

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 2

  8. Canthisbe says:

    “The five-member board on Wednesday unanimously agreed to ask voters to support a $89-per-parcel tax for five years, a move that officials believe could bring in $5.3 million over that span”.
    “… the district has 5,900 students and expects to enroll 5,450 in the 2013-2014 school year”.
    The increase in taxes being sought comes to about a $1,000 per student over 5 years or $200 per student per year or less than a dollar a day and less than .20 per student per school hour.
    Surely, the schools can figure out how to save $.20 per hour per student and not ask for a tax increase.
    In case you missed it, this is the counter-argument to the argument we always hear when any government unit wants a tax increase – i.e., it’s no big deal, it just comes to less than a dollar a day, less than the cost of (you fill in the blank).
    If it work for us, it should work for them.

    Thumb up 29 Thumb down 2

  9. If CRPSD takes a serious look at the abuses of tenure and considers incentive pay to motivate productive teachers, I’ll vote to raise the parcel tax. If they want to continue pouring money in a sinkhole, then they deserve less money.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 2

  10. Jim says:

    Once again, the thieves waste the money they have and then come back to steal more from the people. There is plenty of money for schools. PLENTY. The problem isn’t income, it is WASTE!

    “The difficulty for us is we really don’t have another place to cut,” said Anne Barron, the district’s chief business official

    Give me the budget and I’ll find more places to cut in less than an hour. How about cutting administration? How about eliminating the MASSIVE benefits? How about cutting the useless “Chief Business Official”, since she isn’t capable of making tough decisions?

    I kind of like the government approach. Today I’m buying myself a Ferrari and a Lamborghini (why should I have to choose between them??). Tomorrow I’m going to go into my bosses office and DEMAND more salary. Why should I have to cut spending when I can easily get more and more income? I’ll lie to my boss and say I need the money for my kids. It doesn’t matter that I have a staff of 20 people on payroll doing nothing while earning a pension. He’ll happily give me more money.

    The Sheeple will fall for this. I think this shouldn’t go to all voters. It should only be voted on by those who have parcels that will be taxed. Why would anyone who doesn’t own a parcel and isn’t affected by the tax NOT vote for more money to be stolen by the “rich” property owners?

    ATTENTION RENTERS IN ROHNERT PARK…if the parcel tax passes, YOUR RENT WILL GO UP!!!!

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 4

  11. NoQuarters says:

    $89-per-parcel tax for five years, a move that officials believe could bring in $5.3 million over that span.

    They Believe? Iam missing something here Parcels move around like those in the brown trucks

    Superintendent Robert Haley.
    Anne Barron
    Ed Gilardi

    I know! we will save much needed funds for our schools with the removel of thier parcel parked property

    no new taxes

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  12. Marengo says:

    If we were not wasting so much money on illegals, our schools would be fine. Forget bi-lingual, it should be full immersion and only for proven citizens.

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

  13. Dogs Rule says:

    Um no.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 2

  14. The Hammer says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 2

  15. Follower says:

    This is yet another opportunity for us to show our deep gratitude for the wonderful job our public officials have done managing our tax money.

    By all means Vote “YES” on this new tax increase!

    And while you’re at it, re-elect all these incredibly talented people we have running us into the ground.

    Thumb up 38 Thumb down 3

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