Novato voters have been told they have no choice but to approve a new school parcel tax or risk cuts that will devastate the district. Scare tactics are being used to sell a tax.
Tax advocates want voters to approve a $6 million dollar a year tax with a three percent annual escalator for eight years. They insist that Novato has the lowest school tax in the county.
But when residents open their tax bill they are reminded that any parcel tax is on top of $329 million dollars in voter-approved bonds--the highest of any school district in Marin.
The reason there is less money for classrooms and teacher’s salaries is not because the voters aren’t paying their fair share. It’s because of the pupil funding losses due to declining enrollment and skyrocketing payments for pensions.
Why not tell voters the truth?
Measure A is needed to pay for multi-million dollar pension costs. It’s a state level problem that the local taxpayer can’t fix with a parcel tax.
Our teacher salaries have not kept up with the state average despite Novato approving every school tax put before them. Yet, Novato Superintendent Cosca receives a salary $232,000 and recently received a $10,000 raise and a guaranteed 3.5% annual salary increase for the next four years.
Concurrently, NUSD is negotiating a teacher contract while threatening to withhold reasonable salary increases should the parcel tax fail--another bullying tactic.
Supporters of the parcel tax take a puzzling position on new funds slated to come from the state budget by saying it will not have an impact on revenue. Yet, Governor Newsom’s office is calling the 2020 proposals, “The Largest K-12 Education Per-Pupil Expenditure in History.”
The bottom line is that the Novato school district must do more to control its budget and it has the means, but not the will, to make needed cuts. A top-heavy administration is one place to start.
If implemented, a cost reduction plan put forth by NUSD’s own administrators, staff, and the PTA will right-size school facilities for a decreasing student population and create efficiencies.
Novato enrollment is losing students at a rate of 100 per year and this affects per student funding. Curriculums that attract and retain local students can stop them from leaving for charter and private schools.
California is below the national average in per student funding. But, the long-term solution is to pass statewide legislation. School districts across California are petitioning legislators for the Full and Fair Funding ballot initiative, which would tax incomes above $1 million dollars to support public schools.
Where does NUSD stand on Full and Fair Funding?
The district hasn’t put together a lobbying committee. Instead, it’s focusing precious resources on color mailers for the parcel tax.
In the past, Novato voters have stepped up to do their job for the schools. Now it’s time for the District to step up and control its budget costs. They have 3 ½ more years before the current tax expires in order to make needed cuts and live within its means.
Vote No on Measure A and require the NUSD to do its cost-cutting homework. Afterwards, it can come back to the voters and scare tactics will not be necessary.
Julia Lavaroni, Tracey Ruiz, & Tina McMillan
No Novato Tax - No on Measure A