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February 15, 2011 > New Haven Board of Education briefs

New Haven Board of Education briefs

Submitted By Rick La Plante

The Board of Education, on February 1, approved a resolution calling for a May 3 special election asking New Haven voters to approve a parcel tax to offset some of the cuts that continue to be forced on the District because of the ongoing state budget crisis.

The measure would raise approximately $3 million annually to preserve quality instructional time, maintain educational and after-school activities and minimize increases in class sizes and reductions to the school year.

The proposed assessment, added to local property tax bills, would cost $180 per parcel per year, the equivalent of $15 per month -- with exemptions for senior citizens and the disabled. A citizens' oversight committee would review spending, and no money from the tax could be used to pay administrators' salaries. The tax would expire after four years.

The election will be a mail-in ballot. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters will begin mailing the ballots to registered voters on April 4, and voters may mark their ballots and return them immediately. To be counted, ballots must be returned by mail or in person to the Registrar of Voters by 8 p.m. on May 3.

A parcel tax requires a two-thirds majority vote for passage.

Later in the evening, the Board received an update on the state budget. Unless voters approve the tax extensions that Gov. Brown has asked the Legislature to call for in a June special election, the District will be forced to make an additional $4.1 million in reductions - on top of the $5 million in reductions included in multi-year projections approved by the Board in December. That makes passing a local parcel tax even more critical, Chief Business Officer Akur Varadarajan told the Board, if the District is to minimize increases in class sizes and reductions to the school year and maintain after-school activities.

Also, the Board:

Received an update on the planning for the Institute for Community Leaders, a "school within a school" at James Logan High. The pilot program, to be created and managed almost entirely by teachers, would open in the fall with 180 ninth-grade students. Focus would be on academic rigor, with an emphasis on social and ethnic justice, and a new grade would be added each year until the ICL serves grades 9 - 12 in 2014 - 2015.

Received a presentation from Searles Elementary School fifth-graders who -- using an $8,000 grant secured by teacher Vince Rosato -- participated in the YMCA East Bay Outdoor School at Camp Arroyo in Livermore. The camp is a premier Bay Area environmental center.

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