The Los Gatos High School lawn leading up to the main building
The Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District will likely see a bump in funding for its teachers due to the passage of a local parcel tax. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

A West Valley school district is on its way to boosting teacher salaries.

Voters in the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District stepped up to support Measure A, a parcel tax, with 66.7% of the vote as of May 15, according to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters and  Santa Cruz County Elections Department. The special election on Tuesday needed 66.67% of the vote to pass and votes are still being counted. Measure A increases the tax from $49 to $128.

The nine-year tax will be implemented in July and bring in about $2.52 million annually, a boost school officials said could help keep teacher salaries up to par with living costs. The special election cost between $724,000 to $1,086,014, according to the registrar. Roughly 11,684 residents from both counties cast their ballots out of 41,333 registered voters.

Tanya De La Cruz, district spokesperson, said the tax bump is necessary because the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District, which serves about 3,180 students in Los Gatos and Saratoga, has the lowest tax among nearly 30 other districts in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties that rely on parcel taxes.

“We knew that in order to keep up with the rising costs of providing a quality education and ensure we don’t lose top teacher talent to our neighbors who can pay more, we needed to explore an increase,” she told San José Spotlight. “We did not take this lightly and conducted multiple polls so that we could land on a dollar amount that a) could accomplish our funding goals and b) not overburden local taxpayers.”

The school district opted for a special election to give voters ample time to consider the increase before the existing tax sunsets in June 2025. The last time the district saw a parcel tax boost was more than a decade ago, according to the district.

The measure comes at a time when the district and its union, the District Teachers Association, are negotiating for better wages. The union, which did not respond to a request for comment, is asking for a 9% raise and 60% of the funds from the parcel tax if it’s approved.

The base salary for a teacher in the district starts at $66,248, according to 2023-24 data. In neighboring districts such as the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, salaries begin at more than $101,000.

Mark Hinkle, president of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association, said he doesn’t support the tax because of the burden it places on residents. He said if teacher salaries need to be increased, he wants the district to allocate money from other places it puts more funding into.

“They want to incentivize teachers to stay, particularly good-quality teachers. And yet, where is money going?” he told San José Spotlight. “It’s not going into the classroom.”

The tax also aims to maintain academic programs, such as Advanced Placement courses and provide college and career readiness programs.

Some residents, such as people receiving Social Security disability insurance benefits, can exempt themselves from the increase.

Lee Fagot, who has lived in Los Gatos for 29 years, said he voted for the tax because he wants to support the district where his daughter went to school. He has also served on the Parcel Tax Oversight Committee.

“I still like working with the district because of the sense of commitment to our communities, our youth and to being frugal in their approach to do so,” he told San José Spotlight.

Election results will be certified June 6.

Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include Santa Cruz County voters in the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District.

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