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BHUSD Reverses Course on Parcel Tax

The school board votes down a motion to hold a May 2013 mail-in election for a parcel tax.

The Board of Education has dropped plans to pursue a parcel tax to help fund the next school year, with the measure failing to get enough support at Tuesday's meeting after a 2-2 vote with one abstention.

The board had voted 3-2 at its Nov. 13 meeting to direct district staff to prepare a parcel tax of not more than $499 for the March ballot, with a final board vote on the tax scheduled for Nov. 27. But during this week’s meeting Superintendent Gary Woods suggested the board instead vote to place a parcel tax on a mail-in ballot for the May 6 election.

May 6 is the latest election date that—if the tax passed—would allow the district to start collecting money in July for the 2013-14 school year.

Board Vice President Jake Manaster, however, changed his original support for the parcel tax and abstained from the vote. President Brian Goldberg and member Noah Margo voted in favor of a May 6 mail-in ballot, while members Lisa Korbatov and Lewis Hall opposed the measure. Korbatov and Hall also voted against the tax Nov. 13. 

“I am disappointed, as a parcel tax is the only way to get off the state’s dime,” Goldberg told Patch. The Beverly Hills Unified School District is facing $3.5 million in potential programming cuts next year because of reduced state funding.

Vice Mayor John Mirisch spoke at the Nov. 27 board meeting of his interest in giving $4 million of the city’s $10.2 million surplus to BHUSD to cover the district’s shortfall. District parents have also started an online petition in support of the city assisting BHUSD to avoid educational cuts.

The city cannot give the district money directly, but it can temporarily increase the Joint Powers Agreement. The JPA is a four-year agreement in which the city pays BHUSD $9.7 million annually for access to school facilities.

Extra funds from the city would be generous and helpful, Goldberg said. But the money would only help the district for the next school year.

“That is a one-time fix,” he said. “A parcel tax would address a systemic problem.”

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