Early results show South Bay voters overwhelmingly favor ballot measures to extend parcel taxes for two local school districts.
Out of 65,005 registered voters in the two boundaries of Berryessa and Los Gatos Union school districts, only 17,622 voters turned out for the special election on Tuesday—about a 27% turnout rate, according to the county. The majority of residents who voted did so by mail. Only 259 people voted in person for the ballot measures.
About 7 out of 10 voters in the Berryessa Union School District approved Measure A, which renews a $79 parcel tax to maintain the level of services in the district for the next eight years. With 79.17% of precincts reporting as of Wednesday, 6,442 voters said yes to the renewed parcel tax—and 2,646 voted no.
“We feel fortunate to serve a district where the community has consistently been our partner, as we work to provide our students with a quality education,” Superintendent Roxane Fuentes told San José Spotlight.
Voters first approved the school district’s parcel tax in 2008 and renewed it in 2012. Funding from the parcel tax, totaling about $1.8 million per year, helps pay for math and science teachers, library media services and counseling support, Fuentes added.
According to the district, $1 million of last year’s funding paid the salaries of eight math and science teachers. The tax also supported library services at $419,000 and one counselor position at $163,000. The renewed tax will continue these services.
“Voters in Berryessa have always been very supportive of quality education,” said San Jose Councilmember David Cohen, who represents the district and is a former Berryessa school board member. Cohen was on the board when the district first introduced the parcel tax in 2008. “I’m grateful that they again renewed their commitment by voting overwhelmingly to approve Measure A.”
In Los Gatos, three quarters of voters also said yes to a parcel tax increase in the Los Gatos Union School District through Measure B. The measure increases the annual rate from $290 to $335 in 2022. The rate will continue to increase by 2% annually for the next eight years.
With 82.35% of precincts reporting, 6,463 voters approved the tax hike and 2,047 rejected it.
“We are thrilled here in Los Gatos that the community came together to support our schools,” Superintendent Paul Johnson told San José Spotlight.
The measure received endorsements from local officials, including Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman and Board of Education President Claudia Rossi.
“I’m glad to see that this is passing handily,” Los Gatos Vice Mayor Rob Rennie, a supporter of the measure, told San José Spotlight. “I was out knocking on doors and working to get people to vote ‘yes’ on this.”
The school district has long relied on the parcel tax to fund some of its programs and teachers. Last year, it paid for 23 teaching positions, 82% of whom teach reading, writing, math and science, according to district documents. The tax will continue to fund these educators, Johnson said.
“With the old measure expiring next year, if we didn’t pass this, the district would lose a few million dollars,” Rennie said. “That would mean fewer teachers and larger class sizes. We would not be able to keep up the qualities of school.”
The tax was first approved by voters in 1990 at $180 per parcel. The annual rate increased to $290 in 2002, but hasn’t been raised since, according to the district. The new, higher tax will generate $3.2 million annually for Los Gatos schools, an increase of $500,000.
Both measures take effect in July 2022.