Measure B did not pass: what next?

Charlie Ginsburg and Olivia Brekhus

The future of the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) changed course on Super Tuesday when Marin County voters did not approve a property tax to fund district-wide operations. Although a majority of voters favored Measure B, the 62.91 percent vote for the tax fell short of the required two-thirds passage rate, according to the County of Marin Registrar of Voters.

Measure B signs have lined the streets of many houses in the county for the past month.

In 2018, voters passed Measure J, a $149 short-term supplemental parcel tax set to expire in June 2022 with 73.9 percent approval. Measure B was a parcel tax renewal with an additional increase of $190, which would have resulted in a $645 parcel tax. If passed, Measure B would have secured funding to the District for 10 years, expiring in June 2030 with a 3 percent cost of living increase each year, which is standard for all parcel taxes. By year ten, the tax would have grown to $842 per parcel. 

Proponents of the measure argued the tax was necessary in order to maintain high quality education for TUHSD schools. By renewing the existing funding that provided $16.8M each year—representing 17 percent of the District’s overall budget—the tax would have protected teachers, required courses and electives such as art and music. Such funding was also described by the measure’s supporters as necessary for career development training. Advocates additionally argued that the quality of the schools, which they believe would have been maintained had the tax been passed, has benefited property owners by increasing the value of their land; local schools are an attractive reason for moving to Marin County. 

However, Measure B opponents such as the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers (COST) raised objections to the tax soon after Measure J had passed. The group suggested the District was overreaching by asking voters to approve an increase of $190, and cited student registration predictions provided by the District that showed enrollment would soon decrease. As a result, they argued that less money would be required to accommodate a smaller student body size. 

Mimi Willard, the head of COST, supported Measure J in 2018, but community members believe her strong work played a vital role in Measure B not passing. 

“It was not the intended result of opposition that there would be cuts to programs that would hurt the students. [To address the problem,] I would start by not hiring the new Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services,” Willard said.  

Students may question what this means for Redwood. On Tuesday, March 10, the TUHSD Board proposed future cuts to accommodate the new budget during a monthly board meeting. The building was crowded with community members and students waiting to hear about cuts and advocate for their programs. The discussed cuts included release periods belonging to the journalism teachers, the Team program for 2020-2021 and limited schedules of seven periods for students.

 At the meeting, many current Team members and alumni came to voice their opinions about the possible discontinuation of the program. In addition, journalism students from Redwood, Tam and Drake shared their concerns about potential limitations on their courses.

Several current and former Team members showed up with signs and prepared speeches in hopes of saving the program.

Diana Goldberg is one of the current Team teachers who spoke at the board meeting. She and several of her current and former students shared personal stories regarding the role the program plays in their lives. 

“When people say Team saves lives, I have seen it first hand. I think it’s a detriment to our district and our entire community to see it go away,” Goldberg said. 

At the meeting, Goldberg stressed that if the board suspends Team next year, it will be very unlikely that it ever comes back given the resources and recruitment process, which typically takes place all of second semester when selecting the new “Team.” 

“It’s not over yet. There is still time to negotiate and make our case. As much as people want to blame the board or the administration, everyone is in a really tough position,” Goldberg said. “What we really hope for people to know is the impact of Team and [we hope] to not let a small program bear the brunt of the budget cuts. [We want to] allow our entire district and community to see that we are willing to do everything and anything to keep [Team] alive.”

When community members caught word that Team was on the agenda to be cut, a petition was made by the program’s students to prevent this from happening. In less than three days, it received nearly 3,000 signatures. 

Having seen students and teachers alike vouch for their programs, superintendent Tara Taupier says cuts are never easy, but are unfortunately still necessary.

“[This feeling is] terrible. Really terrible,” Taupier said. “We made cuts last year and it never gets any easier. I am really saddened that we have to make reductions and I hope that we can find some creative solutions moving forward.”