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Op-Ed: Why San Bruno Should Support Measure G

The time is now to start building support for the schools parcel tax on the November ballot. It would guarantee San Bruno’s ability to maintain its high-quality public schools.

Editor's Note: Over the summer, the San Bruno Park School District voted to place a parcel tax on the November ballot. The tax, which asks residents to pay $199 per household for five years, could generate up to $1.9 million annually for the district, if it gets two-thirds approval from voters. This is the first time since the school district was established in 1907 that a schools parcel tax has been placed before San Bruno voters. 

On the ballot this November, registered voters will see three initiatives that impact our San Bruno public schools: Measure G (San Bruno’s initiative to support public childhood education), Proposition 30 and Proposition 38.  

Voting YES on all three would guarantee San Bruno’s ability to maintain its high-quality public school system. A NO vote is a vote close up to three elementary school, cut four weeks off the end of the school year, increase class sizes beyond today’s 31-to-1 student/teacher ratio, erase elective classes (that aren’t paid for by school parents) and probably scare away our top teacher talent.  

While the passage of all three initiatives is important, only San Bruno’s voters will decide the fate of Measure G. Since this is San Bruno Patch, let’s focus for a few minutes on this local childhood education initiative.

How Did San Bruno Get To This Point?

Over the last five years, California has been cutting many millions of dollars from our public education budgets. San Bruno has adjusted by attempting to raise revenues while cutting senior administration, cutting staff, cutting teachers, cutting salaries and cutting elective classes and programs.

Despite San Bruno’s efforts to balance fiscal solvency with quality childhood education, it couldn’t match the pace at which California was surprising public schools with cuts from state funding. In many of our lifetimes, California schools hadn’t experienced such vigorous cuts.

As each year generated new cuts, many public school districts thought, “Well, the state can’t possibly cut any deeper than that.”

San Bruno protected its public schools as best as it could with what used to be very healthy savings accounts. Today that protection is going away, and the most painful cuts are all that is left to cut.  

If you want to blame San Bruno, then blame them for having never asked voters to support a childhood public education parcel tax before today, or blame them for failing to pass a bond (Measure O) last year, or blame them for trying to protect our public schools by tapping their savings. 

Why Should San Bruno Taxpayers Increase Their Contribution To Childhood Education?

If you don’t have kids, and you don’t care about providing high-quality education to San Bruno kids, then you should still vote YES on this childhood education parcel tax because good public schools raise property values and attract good families to neighborhoods. When children are seen walking the sidewalks, that neighborhood is seen as vibrant and safe. For example, Crestmoor Elementary has an annual Halloween Parade that loops around the neighborhood streets complete with a police escort and the Capuchino High School Marching Band.

If your kids go to private school, then you should still vote YES on this childhood education parcel tax because good public schools support “at-risk youth” and keep them engaged in a productive and protective environment. Long-term, public schools benefit economically disadvantaged children and contribute to reduced crime rates.

In Summary

A “NO” vote is a vote to weaken the San Bruno community by putting our kindergarten through eighth grade public schools at risk of closing not only three neighborhood schools, but also cutting up to four weeks off the end of the school year, and/or increasing class sizes and removing funding for elective classes.

A “YES” vote is a vote to make San Bruno STRONG by supporting the children who need the services provided by public schools.

To learn more information about Measure G, visit greatsanbrunoschools.com.

Scott Curtner is a Crestmoor Elementary parent and president of the school's PTO.

Scott C. September 23, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Attending board meetings is hard and sometimes even painful. I know that not everyone has the time or endurance to be there. If you can't make it, perhaps you can band together with a group of like-minded people and take turns attending?
Tiffany G September 23, 2012 at 09:28 PM
David H. You are correct in thinking that the kids will still receive some kind of an education. But ponder this, would you think it acceptable for your child's teacher to develop and deliver his or her instruction aiming it at the bottom of the class and putting in the bare minimum of their time, because at least he or she is providing some kind of education? How on earth could aiming low or for the bare minimum be okay for our children and by extension the generation of workers that will be following ours? Because that's analogous to your argument that even without the money the children will still receive an education. And for those readers out there who have been following this, many of the No on G arguments have stated the sentiment that the people who are Yes on G are insensitive to the plight of the middle class. Please know, I do not personally know any of the No on G people and would never presume to know their finances, however, they presume to know ours. Speaking for myself and the other Yes on G's that I know, we are middle class folks. We don't relish paying more taxes. It's not like we think, "Yeh, more money out of our ever shrinking wallets!" But we cherish our children and our neighborhoods. So, we prioritize. For the cost of 55 cents a day, or about 4 tall Starbuck's mochas per month, we can try to secure a better future for ALL our kids and for our neighborhoods. The money helps ALL of us. I'll make my own coffee, thank you.
Scott C. September 23, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Dana: You're right. The key is that we stay engaged with the board, district, and local community leaders. We try to learn as much as we can. Then encourage and support people we trust to run for open seats or apply for open positions. San Bruno is lucky to have people like you who care enough to ask :-)
Dana Facciano September 23, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Thanks so much for attaching the ballot Scott. After reading it I must admit that this anti-tax woman is starting to change her mind. As for over 65 and low income families..over 65 are exempt and low income will file paperwork yearly to avoid paying (I'm not being eloquent in my wording here but you get it). It would be exciting to see the money put to good use. I look forward to reading the continuing arguments for and against.
Scott C. September 23, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Bill Baker (a.k.a David H, watchfultaxpayer, Scott C Go to Bed, awat, Happy1, Crisp K, and No ON G): It will be a miracle indeed when I see you do or say anything that doesn't involve lies, alias's, half-truths, or tearing someone down. Your Patch posts are challenging my vow to "be honest to everyone" and "respectful, patient, understanding, and kind to my friends and acquaintances." You have won my friend. Today I will stop posting on the Patch for a week while I renew my vows. If Patch readers want to reach me, I can contacted through http://greatsanbrunoschools.com.
Tiffany G September 24, 2012 at 02:41 AM
I hope that the anti-tax guys don't "win" this election because it will actually be a loss for us all. We live in an age of such entitlement and apathy. So many people expect things but then are not willing to pay for them. I hope that as I age, I remember that I am a part of a society and that I still need to do my part to take care of my community. Well, you'll get what you pay for and you won't what you don't. Think about it. Yes on G!
Annie Goldstein September 24, 2012 at 02:56 AM
My mother came from El Salvador and what she instilled in her children was that education was most important; the better educated you are the more you have. I want more for my children then having them cook and clean for someone else. My mother is a house cleaner and she is 75 and is STILL cleaning houses till this day. NOT because she wants to but because she HAS too. Watchfultaxpayer: I don't know if you have ever cleaned someone else' toilet, but I have when I was a child in order to help feed my family; I don't wish that on my own children. I wish the best so they can excel. She was not educated and did not have the opportunity to be educated. In the country that she came from she had a sixth grade education and then was forced to work after that. Since she pushed my sisters and I to do our best in PUBLIC school, all of us are doing better then she did. I am college educated and I am pushing my kids to excel in PUBLIC school. Not everyone wants to learn and become something after high school. Some 18 year olds have no clue of what they want to do perhaps during the that time the CHOICE to serve people food or clean people's toilets would be theirs. There will always be people in our world who will have to get the no skill jobs; it is the way the world works; I lived it and I survived; BUT I do not wish that on my children. The middle class gap is closing rapidly. Soon we will be only RICH or POOR. I am Helping to keep the middle class open. Vote YES for Measure G!!!
Rob Goldstein September 24, 2012 at 03:49 PM
The state of California is 2.3 Trillion dollars in debt. They are issuing a bond pre sale 1.5 billion dollars before 9/24/2012. Our state has the highest state income tax in the country at 14%. Our state unemployment is 9.7% while the federal average is 8%. Our state is in trouble. The California lottery aided the schools 76% of all lottery proceeds went to k-12 education. But then state leaders made cuts to make sure that they would receive the same funding as they did previously. I know times are hard. I know that we need this money. We need to come together as a community and pass this measure. If we do not, surely the kids that had nothing to do with these issues will suffer. I am a parent and there is nothing i would not give to my kids. $200 per year will not change your life. It will change the lives of the kids in San Bruno. I am voting with my conscience clear. i am voting yes on measure G as a father and a home owner to make it just a little easier for the school board to operate.
John Hanson September 24, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Dana you seem to have a big heart, but would you invest money in a company that had Hutt as your CEO? Most company's would have bought out his contract and sent him down the road, based on Ethics along. Examples are CEOs from HP and Best Buy. I know we are a school and not a company, but Ethics are Ethics. We are already paying on a Bond and it looks like that wasn't enought money either. Never enough money, they will be back asking for more. Change the Leadership, so we can move ahead. I guess Hutt is O.K. With bullying, since he just sits by and watches.
John Hanson September 24, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Annie good point about soon the middle class will be poor. That is what will happen if the Middle class continues to be the one paying the taxes. No more new taxes. Vote No on G.
Dana Facciano September 24, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Mr.Hanson I do see what you are saying. My thinking is that after the backlash he got last year perhaps he will be very careful to do the right thing with this money. Im thinking I would rather get the money in now and perhaps if he needs to be outed that can be worked on. I see all the great things other schools have and I think to myself "why do they have it and not us?" I'm talking So City not Burlingame! I want to see the board do the right thing and if they don't ill never vote for anything they ask for again. Perhaps I'm naive being I'm newer to the district but I think I may need to see for myself. I look forward to your response.
Paul Linden September 24, 2012 at 05:28 PM
John, if you'd take some time out to read up about bonds vs parcel taxes - and you've been posting on Patch long enough to surely have read some of Chris Kiely's explanations - I'd hope you'd understand that bonds can only be used for capital expenditures, e.g. school buildings, while a parcel tax can only be used for operating expenses, e.g. actually educating our children. The district could have $100m in funding from bonds and not a penny could be used for operating expenses. In fact, if the board did try to move money from the capital funds to the operating funds, I'm sure you would be one of the loudest critics.
Rob Goldstein September 24, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Just a small fact. All over the state and country in this election there are special measures on the ballets to assist the school boards in different areas. Las Vegas, El Cerrito measure E, Idaho just passed this one www.kivitv.com/news/local/167875815.html . It's painfully obvious this measure has to pass to assist our school board and add the necessary funding. Fighting this will only hurt ourselves. I am not going to put a band aid on a wound that needs surgery. This is our surgical procedure. Vote yes on measure G.
Rob Goldstein September 25, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Renters would benefit from this yes. But people whom own are planted in the community more than renters are. We have more to loose than they do if we end up closing our schools as a direct result of underfunding. If we do not pass the measure and we end up closing schools, we will all be culpable for this action and for $200 per year I think that we can take responsibility and tell our community and our school system we did not fail it by voting this measure down. Let's take responsibility and show the kids that we care. It's only $.55 cents per day and i promise you the coffee you make at home is more expensive than this measure. Vote yes on G.
John Hanson September 25, 2012 at 05:41 AM
Rob if you haven't notice property values are down with or without measure G. I known several long term renters in San Bruno. Also sort term homeowners, who lost their homes in Foreclosure. They are not related to measure G. Maybe they ought to charge tax per child not per Homeowners. Also Rob I don't drink coffee. Schools will only close when you don't have the enrollment to support them.
Barbara LaRaia September 25, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Local elected officials seem to want us to think that the state is taking away money from schools to balance the state budget. The fact of the matter is that Redevelopment - which is s kind of dictatorship in which city councils appoint themselves as Redevelopment (RDA) "overseers" and can float bonds without a vote of the people - TAKES money away from local schools. And, in the case of San Bruno - which declared about HALF THE CITY as blighted and put it in a Redevelpment "zone", all that money that should have gone to schools went into trying to create new development. And it failed, and it failed all over the state. PRIVATE - FREE Enterprise develpment, done in a responsible manner, is the answer. At any rate, now that RDA is against the law in California - and rightfully so - cities need to pay back the money (to the state for school district reimbursement) that they were supposed to have done already, and never did. At the moment, to prevent California from going bankrupt and being taken over by the Federal Government, Gov. Brown is using some of the money to balance the budget, and he has stated that soon the local school districs will start receiving the money that is due to them. One of the reasons I fought against Redevelopment for over 12 years was that it takes money away from schools and public safety, and also It allows eminent domain for PRIVATE (vs. public) gain, which is against the Consitituion. I thank our state legislators for banning RDAs.
Alan Lubke September 25, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Mayor Ruane et. al., PLEASE READ THESE SECTIONS OF THE POLITICAL REFORM ACT OF 2012 BEFORE ALLOWING THE SAN BRUNO PARK SCHOOL DISTRICT’S PRESENTATION AT TONIGHT’S 25 September, 2012 City Council Meeting. As stated on the agenda: “Receive Presentation by San Bruno Park School District on the District’s Parcel Tax Measure on the November 2012 Ballot”. § 82014. Conflict of Interest Code. “Conflict of Interest Code” means a set of rules and regulations adopted by an agency pursuant to Chapter 7 of this title. § 82015. Contribution. (h) “Contribution” further includes the payment of public moneys by a state or local governmental agency for a communication to the public that satisfies both of the following: (1) The communication expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or the qualification, passage, or defeat of a clearly identified measure, or, taken as a whole and in context, unambiguously urges a particular result in an election. (2) The communication is made at the behest of the affected candidate or committee. History: Amended by Stats. 1980, Ch. 289; amended.
watchfultaxpayer September 26, 2012 at 05:27 AM
Thank you, Ms. LaRaia, for giving us that easy to understand explanation regarding RDAs. I always read your opinion pieces when I see them. When did San Bruno get their hands into that Honey Pot??? I went to a City Council meeting in the late 80s or maybe early 90s and spoke against it then. Did they adopt it sometime during that time frame? I could NOT for the life of me understand how intelligent people running a city could fail to see that the money was not going to come off a money tree. That it was going to be diverted from our school system. I was embarking on raising a family and thought it the most assinine idea ever pursued. Needless to say it went through at some point and here we are today...begging for more money to try to rectify large mistakes. But I learned a valuable and lasting lesson. Those who happen to get elected to office do not necessarily do what is best for the citizens who pay the bills. Neither do people contracted to do a job.
Barbara LaRaia September 26, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Hi Watchfultaxpayer. The majority of the current city council instituted REdevelopment in around 1999-2000. It is a horrible scheme which takes money away from schools and public services in the "zone" in which the city council (aka Redevelopment Agency) declares a Redevelopment/Project Area. In San Bruno's case, it was about half the city, which means MORE money taken away from schools and public services than most other cities which used Redevelopment for a small section such as a downtown area. (BTW, BURLINGAME was smart enough NOT to do Redevelopment.) The city of San Bruno has already sent a check for about $1 million to the state for money it owes the state from RDA antics, and I am told by city hall that we have to pay a LOT more, but we couldn't afford it all at once, so we will be making yearly payments to the state for 10 (20?) years. Look at the Police Station - the RDA (aka city council) floated risky bonds called Certificates of Participation to build the police station. Since it is in a Redev. Zone, we do not get to vote on the bonds. (debt). Look at Santana Row in San Jose - NOT redevelopment - all private, and doing well. The RDA of San Jose tried to stop the Santana Row project! I worked for 12 years locally and at the state level to abolish RDAs. Interestingly, the "old" city council chambers at city hall were dismanteled to make room for the new RDA staff - you should see what their salaries were/are. RDAs and unsustainable pensions ruined California.
watchfultaxpayer October 03, 2012 at 06:14 AM
Thank you, BL, for the expert information.about RDAs. I feel validated that I suspected such before they ever hopped on that gravy train. Were realtors dabbling in that money pot??? I know there were programs to help first time buyers & low-income get iinto houses--- creative financing,. They could buy in the 'blighted areas' with help with down payments, etc.,They use to hold 'workshops' at the Rec building encouraging people to buy ,not rent, with little risk. That must have been somehow connected to RDA. When you take from schools and give to city governments for that many years,the schools have to go back to the taxpayers/hiomeowners to beg for what was taken. No foresight at all. It seems to me that when those 1998 bonds were passed it would have been wise to choose three schools in the most state of disrepair,,knock them down and build three new ones. When the taxpayers saw what a good job they did managing that bond money, we would have been more willing to part with more money to knock down two or three more and rebuild them. Instead now we just have a bunch of schools that were 'band-aided' with cheap band-aids at that..I sometimes walk to the library and around Decima Allen. I certainly don't know what they spent 3 plus Million dollars on there. Other than the solar panels it pretty much looks like it always has. Doesn't appear to have new windows either. Isn't the savings from the solar panels seeping if not flying out those old windows??
watchfultaxpayer October 07, 2012 at 08:40 PM
After receiving my Sample ballot and reading Measure G and all related information three times,I will happily vote No on Measure G.There are many things wrong with it. Attracting and retaining highly qualified teachers???Does that mean that all teachers will not get higher pay from this money.Who will be considered highly qualified'?HOW do we improve student achievement? We already have free after school programs in the lower performing schools granted from an 'enrichment 'program. Are we falling short in Sp Edu ?Would the Feds allow us to?Offsetting reductions in State funding..Learn to manage what ones has.We have had combo classses over the years when there were a few too many students for another whole class. I was in a combination class. I did not feel slighted. And what on earth is curriculum modernization? Are our students now benig taught as though they were in a backwoods one room schoolhouse? I don't think the goals are clear and particularly in how they will be achieved. I was put off by the rules for seniors to be exempted.It would be complicated for an elderly person to accomplish once a year. And. if one is NOT a senior already qualified for exemption, how could one be 'very low-level' income and still own a home in San Bruno?That does not add up. I shall vote NO on Measure G. I am sorry they did not have a better plan this time to make me feel confident that my $199 each year for 5 years would save our schools. And what happens at the end of 5 years?
Cafe October 13, 2012 at 07:13 AM
Voting no on G will send the message to the district that change needs to be done. Schools need to close, there are schools very close to ones that can be closed to take the student. That will allow to get rid of split classes, which are terrible for the student and teachers. Crestmoor raised enough money to hire a part time teacher this year because every class is a split. Big change needs to be done and giving more money will not make this happen.
Paul Linden October 15, 2012 at 12:30 AM
@Cafe Yes, the board can and should do more to save. We have on average 100 fewer students per elementary school than Millbrae district, and 200 fewer than SSF. If there were five elementary schools instead of seven the average school size would be the same as Millbrae and still smaller than it was 10 years ago. With an average of 360 students, instead of 260 as it is now, our schools would still be "small schools" which is generally considered to be 400 or fewer, and we could reduce the chances of combination classes. However, closing two schools would just make up 1/3 the budget deficit. There's a minimum level of expenditure we need to maintain just to teach to a core level, and we can't do that with the current revenue. We shouldn't forget the hard work the teaching staff and students have done in the last year in very difficult circumstances. All of the seven elementary schools scored 800 or above in the California statewide API tests and met their targets. Parkside made its overall school target but missed some subgroup targets - which is still an improvement. "Sending a message" to the board would do nothing more than hurt the kids and would put this year's academic improvements at risk.
watchfultaxpayer October 15, 2012 at 05:46 AM
I just saw a sign in a yard on Jenevein not too far from the District Office. Interestingly enough it said "Si on G" But as I stated the information is very vague as to how it will be used and since the same crew will be in charge of it I feel compeled to say "No on G," I was just thinking. Last year when the blonde lady CBO would speak at the televised meetings discussiing finances, she always painted a very rosey picture with smiles and giggles and everyone thanked her and everyone was happy. What happened to that rosey picture? That wasn't that long ago.
Alfonso Esqueda October 15, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I spotted Scott C. on Crestmoor avenue this past Friday. He does exist!
Chris Kiely October 15, 2012 at 04:06 PM
They wanted to be told they had been doing the right thing and that nothing was their fault. So she told them that. When school districts go bad, the sky doesn't fall all at once. They get through one year, and tell themselves that since the district didn't go bankrupt the fiscal conservatives must have been wrong.n So they keep doing the same thing for a few years, until they are painted into a corner. Then they blame Sacramento. Unfortunately, starving them for money doesn't make poor leadership go away.
watchfultaxpayer November 05, 2012 at 01:45 AM
I received my mailout yesterday promoting Yes on G, If nothing else had convinced me to vote No already, it would be that mailout. . "This is going to Save Our Schools." I don't believe that was anywhere in the wording of Measure G that without it our schools would be dead. It also states that "many CALIFORNIA cities have had to resort to similar taxes, sometimes repeatedly, to keep schools open." Do we have 'repeatedly' to look forward to ?They promise citizens oversight will prevent waste or administrative salaries from coming out of this money.They cannot, A citizens oversight has no power over the school board or superintendent or the tax collector for that matter to stop it if they don't behave this time. That is as disingenuous as saying apartment residents and young voters with no property tax bill do not pay.Their rent will most assuredly go up. Young voters with no tax bill, living with their parents, I presume, will see their parents tax bill go up. Misleading information as well as leaving the 'middle' squeezed again, the only folks who will be left to pay this parcel tax directly. I was incensed they are courting non-property owners for votes while laying the burden on the pocketbooks of property owners. This money-jacking has been poorly thought out and poolly handled. It deserves to fail. Hopefully, we will get some new leadership and then they can try again.
watchfultaxpayer November 05, 2012 at 01:54 AM
And...I ask, should seniors be urging me to vote Yes??? They will be exempt. Is Russ Hanley a senior? And Skip who has served a braggung 31 years at his insurance provider job. And that lady principal at Allen appears to be 65 or darn close. And why is Leland Yee promoting it? To shift the financial burden of education from the state to the local citizens? He is always up to something...like wanting to knock down the Cow Palace rather than attempting to preserve it and just knocking down the neighborhood around it. Geezzzz I can hardly wait to vote on Tuesday!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bill Baker November 05, 2012 at 02:30 AM
I think that the Daily Journal article telling voters to VOTE NO ON MEASURE G made an excellent case for voting against Measure G: http://sanbrunobeacon.org/2012/10242012djnoong.pdf We'll just have to wait and see how this turns out after all of the votes are counted.
Scott C. November 05, 2012 at 03:00 AM
I'm hopeful that 2/3rd of San Bruno voters agree that property owners like me can part with a few bucks to keep schools open for the children who need it most. More than 50% of Kindergarten through 8th grade children in San Bruno public schools are low-income, and dozens of San Bruno public school children have special needs that require extra care. Denying San Bruno's most vulnerable children an extra month of education would be a shame. As a property owner, I'm glad to contribute my $16/mo to such a good cause, which is why I'll vote Yes on G :-)

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