The Board of Education may ask the community to vote on a parcel tax as a step towards making the school district financially self-sufficient.
“Local parcel taxes provide one way—and perhaps the only way—to provide secure, enhanced funding for soft costs, including teacher salaries, books, materials and supplies,” board President said this week in an email to constituents. “By approving a parcel tax, we would control the funds rather than depend on the governor's tax initiative, which allows the state to dictate how the funds are used.”
The email, which discussed various ways to make the district more financially secure, was sent in advance of Tuesday’s board meeting. The parcel tax is on the board’s so-called “parking lot agenda” of items to discuss as time permits, but with two board members missing this week Goldberg elected not to start the discussion.
Under California law, a parcel tax must pass by at least a two-thirds majority. Beverly Hills voters have rejected a parcel tax three times between 1987 and 1991, although in 1990 the measure lost by less than 10 votes.
Under Goldberg’s proposal, the ballot language would specify that at least half the proceeds from the tax be directed towards a permanent endowment for the Beverly Hills Unified School District. He would also exempt seniors from paying the tax.
Goldberg told Patch that he is “floating the idea” of a parcel tax, not proposing one yet. It is unclear if the City Council would support putting such a measure on next year’s ballot.
The tax is one of several ideas Goldberg offered to fund $10 million of the BHUSD’s current $52 million budget. He arrived at that figure because the district already receives about $42 million a year from two major sources—as a district, BHUSD keeps its share of local property taxes, totaling around $32 million, and the district gets $9.7 million a year through the with the city.
The district gets much of the remainder of its budget from the state and federal government, which can impose sudden cuts if state finances deteriorate. Last year, for example, a state cut on funds for basic aid school districts prompted the Beverly Hills Education Foundation to start the , which ultimately raised about $750,000 to help pay teacher salaries.
Goldberg’s email proposed other ways to raise the $10 million, such as joint development with the city of Beverly Hills of two district-owned properties. The district owns a vacant lot on Elm Drive across from Beverly Vista School, currently used for staff parking. It also owns a site on Lasky Drive which houses the BHUSD district office.
Goldberg has put the discussion of the two sites on the agenda of the next meeting scheduled for Aug. 24. Mayor William Brian and Councilman Julian Gold represent the city on the panel while Goldberg and board Vice President Jake Manaster represent the district.