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Frequently Asked Questions
What is Save Our Schools Scotts Valley (SOS SV)?
SOS SV is a Community Group made up of Scotts Valley business leaders, community leaders, parents, and educators seeking to bring the Community together to help Scotts Valley Unified School District maintain quality education. Scotts Valley Schools consistently rank among the top in the State, and boast a 96% graduation rate, with over 95% of those graduates going on to higher education. However, the State has dealt our schools a bad hand, leaving Scotts Valley as the 9th lowest funded District out of 344 unified districts in the State. At this current funding level from the State, the District cannot maintain its current level of services. The result will be losses of our great teachers, programs and staff that directly impact our children. SOS SV believes that we can work together as a community by backing a temporary parcel tax measure that will protect the quality of our schools.
This temporary parcel tax will protect our children’s education by:
Preventing cuts to core science, technology, reading, writing, math & art programs in all grades;
Retaining our nationally recognized teachers; and
Keeping up with technology now and in the future.
The tax will last only 5 years and will be $108 per year. Once approved, 100% of the money will stay with Scotts Valley Schools and cannot be taken away by the State.
This parcel tax will NOT be used for administrator salaries or pensions nor construction of buildings.
Exemption: Senior Citizens and/or those receiving SSI Disability benefits may exempt themselves from the parcel tax.
Oversight: There will be an independent citizens oversight committee, which will ensure funds are spent as promised.
What cuts did the SVUSD have to make because of the budget?
The District eliminated nearly 9 positions district-wide (8.8 to be exact). However, due to 6 retirements, we did not replace those 6 positions. For the remaining positions/sections, we reduced 9 sections (courses offered) at the High School and a few teachers received partial layoff notices at SVHS, while other teachers took a voluntary reduction to their assignment to mitigate further layoff notices.
At SVMS, we eliminated the Academy schedule, which required some teachers to be transferred to the elementary sites to fill vacancies that had been filled by teachers on temporary contracts, and also some of the MS teachers had to be reassigned to teach other classes instead of hiring more teachers for those assignments.
What is a parcel tax?
A “Parcel Tax” is the commonly known as a school district’s “qualified special tax” typically applied as a flat tax to each Parcel of land within a School Districts’ boundaries. Special taxes are permitted by the state Constitution, and require approval at an election by at least 2/3rd’s of those voting on the measure. Once the tax is approved, 100% of the money will stay with Scotts Valley Schools and cannot be taken away by the State. Over 100 other School Districts throughout the State have passed Parcel Taxes.
How much will the tax be and how long will it last?
The tax will last only 5 years and will be $108 per year. At the end of the term, the tax will expire, and can only be renewed by the voters.
Doesn’t Scotts Valley already have a parcel tax?
No, Scotts Valley Schools do not have a parcel tax. The community passed Measure K in 2012, but the School Board made a commitment to the Scotts Valley Community, that if funding levels were restored to a basic level, they would allow the tax to lapse at the end of the 3 year term. When the State temporarily provided additional funding, the basic funding level was met, so the Board held to their commitment to the community and did not seek to renew the 2012 parcel tax.
In 2014, the Community again showed its support for the school district by passing Measure A, which provided a Bond to rebuild Scotts Valley Middle School, which required renovations and upgrades after serving the community for over 70 years from original construction.
What's the difference between a bond and a parcel tax?
A bond is used for capital improvements, like new facilities, new construction, or renovations. Bond funding cannot be used to cover the costs of continuing operations or services. Bonds are funded by a dollar amount per $100,000 of assessed value. So if the bond charges $10 for every $100,000 of assessed value, the owner of a parcel valued at $500,000 would pay $50.
A parcel tax is different. It can be used to fund a school’s operations, to pay for services, programs, and teacher salaries, according to the stated purposes set out in the parcel tax language. Parcel tax funds cannot be used for new construction or facilities renovations. Also parcel taxes are charged for more simply, at a flat rate for each parcel in the District -- for example $108/parcel, rather than as a rate per $100,000 of assessed value.
Why do Scotts Valley Schools need a parcel tax?
The State limits the avenues a public school has to fund its operations. The SVUSD board and administration have always striven to live within their means, and have been successful relying on parent contributions and donations (of both time and money) over the years to supplement the education program funded by the allocated state and federal resources. The School Board is proposing a parcel tax at this time because of the State's ongoing inability to meet its school funding obligations. The State has left Scotts Valley as the 9th lowest funded unified school district out of 344 districts in California. Despite the Districts’ conservative approach to its finances, the State has not funded our District to a level where it can meet the mandates and requirements it imposes, let alone be able to continue to offer current programs. Consequently, the District will not be able to meet its financial obligations necessary to keep providing a quality education without financial help.
How will this money be spent?
The Ballot language controls how the money is spent, and a citizens' oversight committee will review expenditures to ensure they are spent in accordance with this language. The ballot will state that the Scotts Valley School District may only use the proceeds for the purposes of:
Preventing cuts in mathematics, sciences, reading, writing, technology and the arts in all grades;
Attracting & Retaining highly qualified teachers; and
Keeping up with technology now and in the future.
THE TAX CANNOT BE USED FOR 1)ADMINISTRATORS’ SALARIES OR PENSIONS OR 2) PLANNING, DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION, REPAIR OR MAINTENANCE OF CAPITAL FACILITIES; 3) FOR THE ACQUISITION OF FURNITURE OR FIXTURES; OR 4) FOR ANY OTHER CAPITAL OR OPERATIONAL EXPENSES.
Is this money for building new buildings, or for maintaining existing ones?
No, the tax may NOT be used for facilities.
How will I know how the money is spent each year?
There will be an independent board made up of community members that will monitor the use of the funds to ensure that they are spent as promised, in accordance with the requirements of California Government Code sections 50075.1 and 50075.3.
What will happen to the District if the Parcel tax fails?
Even with projected small increases in State revenues, if the District does not receive significantly more funding, it will not be able to maintain the award-winning programs and teacher positions needed. If the proposed parcel tax passes, it will not help restore services and teachers lost in prior years, but will help prevent further cuts.
If we do not receive additional revenues outside of State and Federal funding, our budget would be considered “qualified” by the State (which means extreme deficit spending, where the District could not pay its bills). In the event the budget becomes ‘qualified’, the County Office of Education would need to oversee district spending and take over expenditure approvals and also, the State would begin to oversee the District budget as well. Eventually, if the District’s budgetary situation was not improved, the State could send in a receiver to take over the District, and decide for Scotts Valley what programs and people would be cut.
To prevent this scenario, the District would likely have to furlough all employees and make further reductions. SVUSD has been drawing down its reserves over the past two years, and its reserves will be exhausted by 2020.
What happens if the State increases the funding for our schools? Will the parcel tax be repealed?
There is talk in Sacramento to increase public school funding, and there are some bills under consideration. But our situation is too dire to wait and hope for such action. There are many causes within the State seeking a larger portion of the budget so the prospects for legislation seeking to expand school funding will remain uncertain until something is actually signed into law. Our local school board will have the authority to reduce or repeal the parcel tax – only a tax increase or extension requires a vote of the electorate. If State funding is substantially increased during the term of the tax measure, to the extent where our needs can be met without the additional local tax revenue, we can expect that the Board will consider whether it should be continued. The Board has selected a reasonably short duration for the tax (5 years) with this consideration in mind – that State funding levels could increase and thereby reduce the need for this supplemental local funding to continue beyond that point.
I am a Senior Citizen, do I have to pay the tax?
While you can pay the tax, you also can opt out. Anyone over the age of 65 may apply to exempt themselves from the tax. Once they apply, they are forever exempt.
I am DISABLED, and living on a fixed SSI income, do I have to pay the tax?
While you can pay the tax, you can also opt out. Anybody who is disabled receiving SSI support may apply to exempt themselves from the tax. So long as they are still considered disabled for the purposes of SSI, they are exempt.
I don’t have any children in the schools – why should I support a parcel tax?
Good schools benefit everyone and are a stabilizing factor in any community. Children in good schools find themselves involved in positive community and school related activities focused on their own betterment, and are less likely to fall into criminal behavior. Further, a good education leads to greater opportunity for children as they grow, leading to more successful adults. Scotts Valley has seen the benefit of good schools in the form of lower crime rates, and 96% of the students graduating and 95% going on to college.
Good schools are a good investment and are directly related to property values. Areas with failing schools inevitably see sharp declines in property values. In Scotts Valley, nobody debates that our schools are a benefit to our Community, and there is value in making sure our Schools stay successful.
Why aren’t parents just asked to donate $100 for each family to their schools?
Parents are donating. Despite Scotts Valley being a relatively small community, parents and community members raise nearly $1 million per year for our local schools, plus thousands of volunteer hours. Parents raise over $400 per student per year. Parents are asked to make donations – to each school’s PTA, to classrooms for much-needed supplies, and to the Scotts Valley Educational Foundation.
The parents’ response has been, and continues to be, excellent! Past year’s donations have helped keep libraries open, keep computer labs open, fund music and art programs, and support many other under-budgeted programs. Unfortunately, even all of these efforts haven’t been enough to prevent increased class sizes, reduced library hours, and staffing reductions. While all of these efforts will continue, broader support from the community is needed to prevent the current inadequate funding from the State budget from further harming our schools.
Parents currently pay for the following programs:
SPORTS PROGRAMS AND STAFFING
YARD DUTIES, AND MORE.
How good are our schools now?
Scotts Valley schools rank among the best!
Scotts Valley Schools earn the top student test scores in Santa Cruz County
96% Graduation Rate
Blue Ribbon Schools
National School To Watch
Gold Ribbon Schools
CA Distinguished School
Voted 29th Safest School District in the State
Top 250 US News & World Report
Okay, I get it – how can I help?
We can use your help in several ways!
We are accepting donations to help fund the campaign to promote the parcel tax. Click here to donate.
Help us! We need volunteers for various aspects of the campaign. Click here to volunteer!
Endorse our measure. Add your name to the growing list of endorsers. Click here to endorse.
Put a sign in your front yard showing your support for the Parcel Tax. Click here get a sign.
Talk to your friends and neighbors to show your support for the Parcel Tax. Encourage them to visit our website, or call one of our contact phone numbers if they have any questions about the Parcel Tax, or how it will benefit our schools.
“Like” our campaign on Facebook, Tweet about it, or post about it on your favorite social network or blog. Click here for easy to use links to do these things!