California’s Proposition 13 permits school districts to raise local funds by levying a non-ad valorem tax – a flat rate on property, independent of its value - provided two-thirds of voters within the district’s boundary approve. The revenue generated can then be used to provide instructional programs, as defined by the ballot language, for the term of the tax. (To raise funds for facility improvements, districts ask voters to approve a General Obligation bond.)
From 1983 through November 2015, California voters approved 364 parcel taxes in 639 elections; another 229 received a majority vote but not the necessary two-thirds approval. (Ed-Data, 2016)
Davis voters approved their first parcel tax in 1984: $45/parcel for a term of four years. Since then, the parcel tax has been renewed periodically and additional measures have been approved to protect programs from state funding reductions. A full history appears here.
Measure C (full text) was approved by the community in March 2012 and levies a tax of $320/parcel ($150/multi-dwelling properties) generating $6.4 million annually. The purpose of the measure is to preserve and continue to fund the following specific programs and services:
Measure C includes voluntary exemptions for seniors and persons receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) regardless of age.
To account for the impact of inflation on the cost of delivering the classroom programs and student services supported by the proposed measure, the Board of Education may adjust the base tax of $320 annually (commencing as of the 2013-14 tax year) for inflation by the change in the “Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers California (1982-84=100)” published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Such adjustment shall be made annually at a public hearing scheduled, noticed, and conducted in accordance with public meeting laws.
Measure E (Full Text, PDF) was approved by voters on November 6, 2012 ballot to continue programs funded by Measure A and to protect Davis schools from additional state revenue cuts. The ballot text follows:
To offset the continued loss of significant state funding, shall the Davis Joint Unified School District be authorized to continue a special tax for a period of 4 years not to exceed the base annual rate of $204.00 per parcel.
The purpose of the measure is to continue the programs and services previously funded by Measure A, including:
The Measure E tax rate was adjusted in August 2013 in accordance with the decision of the California Court of Appeals for the First Appellate Division Borikas v. Alameda Unified School District. View the resolution here.
Collectively, Measures C and E generate $9.5 million annually for the school district, more than $1,000 per student. Voluntary senior exemptions are in place for both taxes. A Citizen’s Oversight Committee monitors that tax revenues are spent in accordance with the ballot language.
Measures C and E both sunset in June 2017.
The District placed Measure H (Full Text, PDF) on the November 2016 ballot to replace the expiring taxes with a single eight-year parcel tax of $620/year. The ballot text follows:
To provide outstanding academics in math, science, reading, writing, instructional technology and programs in athletics, arts and music; provide high quality teachers; limit class sizes; and support student health and safety; shall the Davis Joint Unified School District replace its expiring parcel taxes with a single eight-year parcel tax of $620/year, raising approximately $9.5 million/year, adjusted for inflation; with senior and disability exemptions; with citizens oversight/ for the exclusive use of Davis schools?
If approved by two-thirds of voters, the measure will fund:
- Improved proficiency and instruction in math and reading
- Elementary science instruction
- Reduced class size for elementary grades
- Sufficient offerings in secondary core subjects including science, math, English, history and social sciences
- Elementary music
- Secondary school class periods for world language, fine art, music, advanced placement, Career Technical Education, physical education and elective offerings
- Athletics and co-curricular programs including robotics, drama, debate and journalism
- School counselors, school nurses, and other support staff positions
- School site safety and support staff
- Training for teachers, classified staff and other certificated employees
- Classroom and instructional materials, technological materials, equipment and services and educational equipment for schools
- Improved student nutrition with farm produce and made from scratch meals