For schools and parks, vote yes on A and F

10/26/2017

West Marin’s two local measures on the Nov. 7 ballot—Measure A, in support of Lagunitas School District, and Measure F, in support of Bolinas parks—are no-brainers. But since both require two-thirds of the vote for passage, participation over the next month is essential. Both taxes have either failed or almost failed in the past. 

Measure A would continue to levy an annual tax of $535 on around 1,400 parcels in the Lagunitas School District, which offers two established, alternative elementary school programs and a middle school. The tax, which would increase 6.5 percent each year for eight years, has been around for three decades. It currently funds five teachers, a counseling program and classes like art and science. If voters fail to renew Measure A now, the school district could lose up to $700,000 next year. It is difficult to imagine just how these programs could rebound from such a blow. 

According to the campaign for Measure A, California ranks 46th in the nation in per-pupil spending. Teachers’ salaries at Lagunitas rank 17th out of the county’s 18 school districts, or 14th for the teachers who’ve been in the district for a decade. The Open Classroom, Montessori and middle school programs are eking by even as they nurture the next generation in the San Geronimo Valley. We cannot choose to be stingy with our and our neighbor’s children. Voters should note that renters, not just homeowners, can also vote on Measure A. Seniors can opt out of the tax.

Measure F in Bolinas funds the upkeep of the town’s two parks, on the Big Mesa and downtown. These outdoor common spaces bring people together. The all-volunteer Mesa Park board manages the roughly $30,000 a year generated by the $49 parcel tax. That money is augmented by another $40,000 or more a year from county park funds and private donations that together allow the parks to stay green, the ballfields tidy, the restrooms clean and water fountains running. In a world that increasingly strains our sense of connection and ability to work together, we need well-kept places in which to gather. 

Voters, go on down to the community centers (or Woodacre Improvement Club) on Nov. 7 or postmark your vote-by-mail ballots by that day, Nov. 7. You can apply for a mail ballot until Oct. 31 at marinvotes.org.