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Richmond High School is just one of the schools in the West Contra Costa Unified School District that is supported by parcel tax-generated funds. Photo by Marian Davidson.

School-funding, Measure T parcel tax passes in Richmond

on November 9, 2016

The West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) will retain a vital source of revenue, thanks to voter approval of a parcel tax extension that will generate millions of dollars annually for the school system.

Measure T, which extends for eight years a 7.2-cent per square foot parcel tax, secured over 39,000 yes votes—more than 75 percent of votes cast on the measure.

The tax, which was set to expire in 2019, will now be extended to 2027. It currently generates $9.8 million each year for WCCUSD.

“It’s very important for what we do,” WCCUSD Communications Director Marcus Walton said of the tax. The revenue it generates is “something the district does rely on,” he said.

Revenue from the parcel tax allows the school district to “attract and retain quality teachers,” maintain small class sizes, and “protect core academics,” Walton said.

The parcel tax was first approved by voters in 2004. It was renewed in 2008 and again in 2012.

“It’s been crucial, especially during the recession, when a lot of school districts had to make some very difficult choices in terms of class size,” Walton said.

The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association opposed the Measure T parcel tax extension, citing the district’s past misuse of public funds in its bond program.

“The bottom line reason we oppose the parcel tax is because we don’t trust the current board, frankly, to manage their money responsibly,” Weir said. The results of the recent forensic audit of the district’s bond program, he said, were “a red flag to us.”

Weir said that until there is “firm action moving” the district in the right direction, the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association will take a conservative stance on approving more money for the school system.

“You have to ask the question, is the district’s problem inadequate revenue, or is the district’s problem that it doesn’t know how to manage its money?” he said.

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