On Nov. 7, a majority of voters in the San Geronimo Valley will vote yes on Measure A, the renewal of a popular parcel tax that has been in effect for eight years. Unfortunately, their votes won’t be enough.
Most valley residents know that the parcel tax is a common-sense demonstration of the community’s commitment to a quality education for its children. There is no organized opposition to Measure A, and even Marin’s most vocal anti-tax group has decided not to oppose it. What little opposition exists amounts to a few individuals who misunderstand the measure or who oppose taxes in general. That much is evident upon reading the anti-A ballot argument.
Voters in the San Geronimo Valley have approved some version of a parcel tax since 1987 because they understand that good schools are not only important for students and their families, but also for the neighborhoods that surround them. They know that when children have an engaging place to learn and grow, they will help build a stronger community. Many believe that strong schools are the primary indicator of a healthy society.
Voters who are paying close attention know that Lagunitas School needs Measure A more than ever. They know that it will continue to provide nearly 20 percent of the school’s budget and that all Measure A money goes to essential services, to fill the gaps created by California’s public-school funding system. Measure A doesn’t pay for “extras” or for administrative costs. Nearly all of it is used for maintaining reasonable class sizes.
So why would anyone worry about Measure A? Why would a community stop doing something that has worked so well for so many years and force their unique, wonderful local school to make deep budget cuts, raise class sizes, provide less support for its students and threaten the employment of talented and committed staff?
The simple answer is that Measure A needs more than 66 percent of voters to vote YES. Even for a common-sense ballot measure like this one, that will be a challenge. In a year with no attention-grabbing races on the ballot, important decisions can come down to seven or eight people deciding to stay home on election day. Even though a majority yes vote is virtually guaranteed, any complacency in the community could spell defeat.
The Yea on A campaign committee’s job is therefore not to convince voters that Measure A is a great idea; people know that already. Its challenge is to get people to vote. And it needs as much help as it can get. Here is what valley residents can do:
• Vote! Fill in your absentee ballot or show up on election day.
• Encourage your friends and neighbors to vote.
• Remind people that seniors (65 and older) can opt out of paying the parcel tax.
• Tell young people who have turned 18 since the last election that they can cast their first vote for a very important measure.
• Come to the Yea on A kick-off party at the Two Bird Café, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11.
• Make a sign and join students and parents for the Deli-to-Deli Hike to rally support at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15, starting at the Woodacre Market.
• Put up a sign, stick on a sticker; they’re available at the community center.
• Visit the Yea on A website and Facebook page, and join the long list of local people who have publically pledged their support.
• When a phone bank volunteer calls you, tell him or her clearly that you will vote yes on Measure A.
This is your chance to support a truly local initiative, drafted by local people, tested over time and aimed at making our community better. Elections like this may not make national headlines, but their results will affect the San Geronimo Valley just as profoundly. Measure A can pass on Nov. 7, but good intentions and a simple majority won’t do it. More than ever, the people of the San Geronimo Valley need to turn out the vote and demonstrate their commitment to our schools and our children.
John Carroll is superintendent of the Lagunitas School District, a parent and a 20-year San Geronimo Valley resident.