Why do we need Measure M?
The Tamalpais Union High School District has relied on a local parcel tax since 1989, and today this funding provides $16.8 million each year and accounts for 17% of the District’s annual budget. This funding is about to expire, which is why Measure M is critical. This measure will extend current funding without raising taxes.
How will Measure M support our schools?
- Maintain Advanced Placement course offerings
- Preserve athletics, arts and music electives
- Protect robust science curriculum, including biomedical science, physiology, and environmental science courses
- Attract and retain highly qualified teachers
What fiscal accountability provisions are required?
- Every penny must stay local and cannot be taken by the State
- Independent oversight and audits are required
- No funds may be used for administrator salaries
- Seniors and low-income people with disabilities are eligible for an exemption
When will I be able to vote on this measure?
Measure M is on the November 3, 2020 ballot. All registered voters in the Tamalpais Union High School District are eligible to vote on the measure, which needs 66.7% support to pass.
How much will Measure M cost?
Measure M will renew our current annual $469 rate without raising taxes, with 3% annual cost of living adjustments.
How long will Measure M be in place?
If passed by local voters, the measure will be in place for through June 2029.
What happens if we don’t pass Measure M?
Measure M is critical to prevent devastating cuts that will impact more than 5,200 students. Losing $16.8 million in funding annually is equivalent to cutting 114 teaching positions. This would have a dramatic impact on electives, class offerings such as Advanced Placement, science and fine arts classes as well as athletic programs.
Are our high schools facing rising student enrollment?
Yes. Over the past 10 years, student enrollment has grown by over 30% (more than 1,200 students) and is expected to remain at this level. Tam District is a community-funded district which means that our schools do not receive more funding when student enrollment increases.
Can senior citizens receive an exemption from the cost?
Yes. Senior citizen homeowners, aged 65 and older, can apply for an exemption for their primary residence. In addition, those who receive Supplemental Security Income for a disability or those who receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and have an income lower than 250 percent of the 2012 poverty guidelines are also eligible for an exemption from the cost.
Can Measure M funds be taken away by the State?
No. By law, all Measure M funds will stay in Tamalpais Union High School District and cannot be taken away by the State.
What will the cost be for renters?
Only property owners who pay property taxes will pay the cost. However, landlords may pass all or a portion of the cost of the measure on to their tenants.
I don’t have children in school. How will Measure M benefit me?
Our outstanding schools are among the top in the nation and attract families into our community. This maintains strong property values.
Wouldn’t a tax based on a parcel’s square footage be more fair than a flat parcel tax?
The District has considered a square footage-based tax, but has decided that it would not be prudent to pursue one.Other school districts that have recently passed parcel taxes based on square footage of property have been challenged in court as to the legality of such a measure. Those challenges have tied up those districts’ resources for many years and resulted in costly lawsuits that remain unresolved. TUHSD cannot risk seeking a square-footage based parcel tax until the law is more settled. Our community depends on the District to use its resources responsibly and continue to provide a high-quality education by seeking renewal of the current parcel tax.
Has the District managed its budget well?
The District already has reduced its budget by $6 million with cuts to librarians and journalism programs, and reduction of administration, staff, and employee benefits. If current parcel tax funding expires, the District will be forced to cut an additional $16 million. Cuts of this magnitude could include layoffs of over 100 teachers, eliminating advanced placement courses, reducing science, music and arts electives, and cuts to high school athletics.
Wasn’t the California Lottery supposed to increase funding for schools?
While the creation of the California Lottery in 1984 promised more funding for schools, in reality it has resulted in very limited funding for local school districts. TUHSD receives only about $150 per student in lottery funding, which is insignificant in comparison to the parcel tax which provides 17% of the District’s budget and is now set to expire.
Isn’t this parcel tax really just going to pay for pensions? If I’m angry about rising pension costs, shouldn’t I vote No on the parcel tax to send a message to the District?
Nearly 90% of district funds, including parcel tax funds, are used to employee teachers, counselors and other school staff. Compensation for these employees includes salary, health and retirement benefits. TUHSD does not have a role in setting pension rates for employees. These rates are set at the state level and local school districts are required to pay their share for their employees. As pension costs have risen in recent years, the TUHSD Board, and other school districts in Marin, have been lobbying politicians in Sacramento for pension relief.Defeating Measure M will do nothing to decrease pension rates. That can only happen at the state level. Without Measure M, the students of our community will lose vital educational programs and many of our outstanding teachers will be laid off.
I think there are too many school districts in Marin. If they consolidate, won’t the Districts save money so that parcel taxes like Measure M won’t be needed?
This is unlikely. Studies show that consolidation, which requires voter approval following costly feasibility studies, saves little, if any money. In addition, a district like TUHSD would likely lose its excess property taxes, resulting in a large decrease in funding for TUHSD students (making it very unlikely voters would approve a consolidation). Finally, consolidation requires nullifying existing parcel taxes for at least a year until the electorate of the new district can approve a new parcel tax. The significant disruption and funding losses make it extremely doubtful that consolidation would be feasible.
I don’t like the way the District is handling the potential name change of Drake High School/School 1327. Shouldn’t I vote no on Measure M to let the District know that I don’t approve of their actions?
If Measure M fails, it will have an immediate and direct impact on current students, and will impact kids in our community for years to come, with the loss of the high-quality education we have come to expect from TUHSD.The outcome of the vote on Measure M has no impact on processes in the District bylaws governing school name changes. If you feel strongly about the process regarding the name change, there are multiple opportunities for expressing opinions to the Board of Trustees, including by email, public comment at Board meetings, and participation in public forums on the name change issue. No public funds from current revenue sources nor potential future sources, such as any parcel tax measure, will be spent on a name change, if one is approved by the Board. The costs of any approved name change will be borne by the school site through fundraising, grant awards, donations and any other methods to raise funds
How can I register to vote or learn more about voting?
You can register to vote at www.registertovote.ca.gov. To find out more about voting in this election, please contact the Marin County Registrar of Voters at (415) 473-6456 or visit https://www.marincounty.org/depts/rv.