The incoming head of the Los Angeles Unified School District, John Deasy, speaks to the media while students line up for a security check upon their arrival at Gardena High School in Gardena, Calif. on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011. The high school where a gun went off in a student's backpack and wounded two classmates failed to use a metal-detector to check youngsters as required, Deasy, said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy gave a few more details on a possible parcel tax to KPCC this morning. He said though it is premature to say exactly how much it would ask people to pay, it is probably in the range of $200 to $300 a year per parcel, to try to close the district's budget gap and raise money for schools.
"The range will be determined by the gap," Deasy said. It's not a political decision...it's about necessity."
The nation's second-largest district faces a $543 million budget shortfall and the potential of more cuts if an initiative Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to put before voters to raise taxes is not approved. The governor's proposed 2012 budget presumes these initiatives would pass; otherwise public education would be hit by $4.8 billion in cuts.
The initiative would temporarily increase sales tax by one-and-a-half percent and income taxes on people earning more than $250,000. The increases would expire in 2017.
Deasy suggested to the district's board at Tuesday's meeting that a parcel tax be put on the November ballot to try and raise revenue for schools and prevent deep cuts that could include laying off thousands of employees, cutting entire school programs, and losing months of school instruction.
"I would want to say to the public, we are one community responsible for the rights of youth," Deasy said.
Deasy said the district will begin to start polling to determine the likelihood of such a tax passing. For such a measure to get on the ballot the board would have to approve it before it moved to the county for certification and is placed before voters.
The district has tried to do this before. Measure E in 2010 would have charged a $100 per parcel fee each year for four years that would have raised more than $90 million for schools annually. That measure was defeated.
Board member Steve Zimmer, who was a major support of Measure E, said it will be difficult gaining voter support for such a tax, but it is a necessity.
"Nobody likes a parcel tax," Zimmer said. "It is quite literally, at this point, an act of desperation. And we have to actually convince people to believe [that]. When you ask somebody for a parcel tax for public education, their response to you is, I already pay taxes for public educcation. My tax money is supposed to fund public education. So you really have a very high mountain to climb."