It’s good news that the Los Altos School District developed a complete “draft ballot” for a $223 parcel before the Monday July 25, 2016 meeting of the Board of Trustees. Because the Board had a concrete draft document in hand to discuss, the meeting was very productive. The Board members seem to be in agreement that the recent tax survey really does give a Green Light for a slightly higher LASD parcel tax and for including the Bullis Charter School.
Draft LASD Ballot June 25
The District and Trustees get credit for resisting the urge to tweek the BALLOT SUMMARY language that was successfully tested in the survey. As shown above, the draft ballot of June 25 uses the survey’s summary statement, verbatim. Yeah!
Fig. 1 Section B – an election losing formula?
Much of the complete 5-page draft ballot is essentially mind-numbing boilerplate that is always used for these ballots.
However, this first draft includes a long section – an unnecessary verbose section B. called TERMS – on the detailed the administration of sharing the tax with BCS. Other districts have handled administrative details through MOUs – memorandums of understanding. The details have not been hard-wired into a ballot like in this LASD draft.
During the July 25 Board meeting discussion, Trustees retreated from some of the most tedious or contentious language in the draft TERMS section. Trustee Ivanovich said he thought the part describing sharing formulas based on ADAs – Average Daily Attendance – was incomprehensible to the average voter. Lalahpolitico agrees: The formula sounds ok and fair but should be in a MOU, not in a ballot.
Trustee Logan, at the prior meeting of July 18, had demanded that if there were to be sharing, BCS would have to hand over its detailed name and address enrollment data to the District so that the District could verify them. You can read how her demand was incorporated into the ballot draft.
Fortunately, during the board discussion of July 25, she retreated from her earlier demand. Instead, she said it would be ok for a 3rd party to verify BCS in-district enrollment. [FYI: the County Board of Education – the chartering agency for BCS — has BCS’s detailed enrollment data and verifies student residency.]
Fig 2. Livermore Parcel Tax Ballot
How to Avoid Contention – One page vs. 3 lines?
Let’s look more closely at how to craft a parcel tax ballot that minimizes contention. Livermore successfully passed a 2014 parcel tax.
The Livermore ballot did not create a separate ONE WHOLE PAGE section about the 4 charters in it’s District. It did not describe how the administration of tax sharing would be accomplished. There were 3 lines mentioning the names of the charter schools then in the district.
Instead it described the the four charters as part of the group — ALL PUBLIC SCHOOLS –and just listed the four by name inside parenthesis. Each of the four charters will spend their share of the parcel tax on the exact same categories of spending as the rest of the Livermore public schools.
Lalahpolitico Conclusion – Put Ballot on a Diet
We can hope that at minimum the language revisions the trustees [Ivanovich and Logan] pointed out will be made. Lalah also hopes that more administrative details can be swept into a MOU. Put the Ballot on a diet.
The District should follow the example of its own 2014 Measure N. There was very little mention of the charter. Less is more.