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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Emery School District Botches 'Measure K' Parcel Tax Rollout

School District Plays it Fast and Loose 
With Measure K 
Provisions Not Supported

Emeryville voters recently received in the mail a large glossy card from the Emery Unified School District with falsehoods and erroneous information about Measure K, the school parcel tax initiative on the ballot for the November 4th election.  Some of the information about the provisions describing how the parcel tax will help Emeryville schools are lifted verbatim from voter information flyers mailed before the passage of 2007's Measure A, a previous parcel tax that Measure K is meant to extend for 20 years.   Some of the Measure A provisions (which are operational until Measure K passes) failed to materialize and some of the Measure K claims to again fund these bogus provisions are dubious if not outright false.  The District is forging ahead with Measure K, undaunted by the clear misstatements in the new flyer.

The flyer, signed by Schools Superintendent John Rubio claims Measure K will provide supplemental taxpayer funding to support the following:

  • "Strengthen and improve educational programs in music", the same language as Measure A even though the School District cancelled the music program at the elementary school years ago; a violation of the law.  The District is silent on the music program they killed but they are claiming if we vote to fund it a second time, presumably they'll finally take the will of the voters seriously.
  • "Keep class sizes small", also the same language as Measure A even though some classes at the elementary school this year have more than 35 children, a number that no educator would call small.
  • "Retain quality teachers", again the same language as Measure A even though the District has never quantified how they have spent money to retain teachers up till now and they still demur on this claim.
Further, the District again is claiming a State of California mandated citizen's Oversight Committee will be empaneled, meeting on a regular basis to advise the School Board about the proper expenditures of the proceeds, a mandate the School District failed to meet with regards to Measure A funds.

Like Measure A, Measure K has 'senior exemptions' meant to not unduly burden those on fixed incomes but on this count too, Measure A was found to be lacking in Emeryville.  In a low-water moment for the District, local resident Shirley Enomoto described in a Letter to the Tattler in April how she spent five years getting a reluctant Emery School District to honor the State required senior exemption as they promised.  No one from the District would comment on this but Ms Enomoto indicates [thanks to her efforts] they are now probably in compliance with the exemption at least.


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  3. Please note: School Board member John Affeldt responded with two lengthy challenges to this story. These comments from Mr Affeldt are worthy of a post of their own and I will present them verbatim as a 'Letter to the Tattler' post on Monday, giving me time to validate the counter claims he makes.
    As a point of information, Mr Affeldt challenges the class size claims in the story and the claims about the Measure A parcel tax Oversight Committee failures I reported among other challenges. We thank Board member Affeldt for his comments and look forward to the airing of them.

  4. at the first meeting of the citizens oversight committee for measure j in march, 2011, the policy was to meet quarterly. I requested that the committee meet monthly. this we did for the first five months that I was a member. thereafter the bylaws were changed to meet every other month and I believe now it has been changed back to quarterly. it's difficult to determine since administrative assistant wendy chew left. no one is in charge of distributing the agendas, minutes, and financial reports of paid expenses.

    . the oversight committee for measure a, the school parcel tax, meets annually. if annually is how often they meet, then you can consider this "regularly scheduled meetings" although how much overseeing can be done on an annual basis? the committee becomes nothing more than a rubber stamp approving all expenditures made the previous year. I do not consider this "overseeing."

    I am happy to report, however, that since hayin kim, former director of community engagement, left, I have not seen any more paid invoices for catering or restaurants.

    furthermore, I read in the july school district newsletter that there is a vacancy on the measure a oversight committee. a concerned citizen is sorely needed to make this committee more "transparent."

    1. The oversight committee for Measure A is required to schedule regular meetings twice a year, in the fall and in the spring.