Positions result from a process of study. Any given study, whether it be National, State, or Local, is thorough in its pursuit of facts and details. As the study progresses, a continuing discussion of pros and cons of each situation occurs. Prior to the results of the study being presented to the general membership, study committee members fashion consensus questions that are then addressed by the membership.
Additional discussion, pro and con, takes place as members (not part of the study committee) learn the scope of the study. After the members reach consensus, the board forms positions based on that consensus.
It is the consensus statement -- the statement resulting from the consensus questions -- that becomes a position. Firm action or advocacy can then be taken on the particular issue addressed by the position. Without a position, action/advocacy cannot be taken.
AUSD is asking Alameda voters to approve Measure A. Measure A will generate $12 million per year for Alameda schools over the next 7 years through an annual special parcel tax on property in the City of Alameda. This new tax replaces two existing but soon-to-expire school parcel taxes. Funding from Measure A will support specific programs including neighborhood schools, enrichment programs, K-3 class size of 25:1, counseling, adult education, and Alameda charter schools.
If this measure is approved property owners will pay $.32 per building square foot with a cap of $7,999 per parcel. Parcels without buildings will pay $299. An average homeowner with a 1600 square foot house would pay $512/year with Measure A. However, this is offset by the elimination of the two existing parcel taxes. The new tax is proposed to begin on July 1, 2011 and would continue for 7 years.
Measure A contains strong accountability provisions requiring a citizen's advisory committee to review expenditures, and an independent auditor to report on revenues and expenditures to the Board of Education and the community.
The League endorses Measure A because a quality education is an investment in our children's future and an essential component for a democracy. Measure A will help provide Alameda students with the necessary skills to succeed in the workforce. A quality public education system supports Alameda's economy and attracts businesses and families to our community. Measure A has strong support from the business community and is the result of negotiations between AUSD, Alameda leaders, businesses and seniors. The League recognizes that parcel taxes in general are inequitable but school districts in California are limited in their ability to raise revenues. We believe that the revenues from Measure A are critical and further budget reductions would lead to an overall decline from which our district might not be able to recover.
In arriving at this endorsement, the League board was mindful of the views of the opponents. The Board heard two presentations and received written arguments highlighting the opposition's point of view. The Board also took into account that three of the City's business associations (the Chamber of Commerce, GABA, and WABA) have endorsed Measure A.
"The League took the extra step to reach out to both sides to better understand the issues and arguments", said Jeff Cambra, Co-President of the Alameda League.
League Co-President Anne Spanier elaborated, "In its deliberation, the Board addressed the major opposition issues and concluded that they were not sufficiently substantiated or were outweighed by the benefits that passage of Measure A would bring to the community."
Support for Measure A is based upon the 2005 League of Women Voters of California's Position on Education: Pre-Kindergarten through 12: "Support a system of public education that is adequate, flexible, equitable and sustainable: derived from a combination of revenue sources; and distributed fairly to support access and equitable opportunities for all students."
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. The League never supports or opposes any political party or candidate.