By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Five of six school funding measures in Sonoma County were in commanding leads Tuesday night with early returns and mail-in ballots tallied.
Three districts — West Sonoma County, Fort Ross and Sebastopol — are asking for parcel taxes, a move that requires two-thirds voter approval for passage but which gives districts more flexibility in how the revenues are used.
The other three — Gravenstein, Roseland and Wilmar — are pursuing general obligation bonds from which revenues are limited to brick-and-mortar projects and cannot be used to pay for teacher or administrator salaries. Passage requires approval by 55 percent of voters within each district. Bonds are repaid through higher property taxes.
Only Fort Ross was failing to gain voter support for its measure. The small, 30-student district was pulling in 60.6 percent of the early votes — well shy of the necessary 66.6 percent needed for a win.
West Sonoma County was pulling in 70.5 percent of the yes vote while Sebastopol was getting 70.3 percent. If Sebastopol continues on to the victory, it will mark the second time in five months voters have backed a funding measure for the district. They backed a $9 million bond measure in June.
On the three bond measures, Gravenstein was pulling in 64.2 percent of the vote, while Roseland had 66.1 percent support and Wilmar had 61.7 percent of voters saying yes.
The election could prove pivotal for schools across California as two major statewide funding measures were competing for public support and appeared headed for defeat late Tuesday. Propositions 30 had 48.2 percent support in early returns while Proposition 38 only had 25.5 percent yes votes.
The preliminary results Tuesday come on the heels of a sweep for school funding measures put to voters last June in Cotati-Rohnert Park, Old Adobe, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Wright and Guerneville. Voters said yes to $90 million in five bond measures and one parcel tax that is expected to bring in $5.3 million for Cotati-Rohnert Park over five years.
Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, email@example.com or on Twitter @benefield.