FUHSD proposes tax renewal initiative Measure M

Funds will maintain teacher salaries, elective programs

Measure M, proposed by the Fremont Union School District, asks voters in Santa Clara County to renew its existing parcel tax to provide more funding for its schools, Superintendent Polly Bove said in a Zoom interview. 

Parcel taxes are taxes on property where all property owners pay a set amount of money per property not based on the property’s value. For this particular parcel tax, each owner would pay 98 dollars, Bove said. 

Infographic by Ritaja Subrahmanya

The parcel tax was originally implemented in 2004, Deputy Superintendent Graham Clark said in a Zoom interview. At the time, all employees took a 4.9 percent pay cut, due to lowered property taxes and state funding. 

Today, the parcel tax produces $5 million a year for FUHSD and makes up 3% of the annual budget. The rest of the budget comes mostly from local property taxes, Clark said. One important use of the money is for maintaining teacher salaries. 

“It’s particularly difficult here in Silicon Valley because the cost of living is so high,” Bove said. “We want to pay salaries to keep our best teachers. That means trying to help make them competitive in an expensive environment.”

It is especially important to keep experienced teachers who have been with the school for a long time, Principal Greg Giglio said in a Zoom interview. These teachers have been trained and have gotten accustomed to the style of the school. 

“When you look at the salaries of our teachers and staff, we’re not as competitive,” Giglio said. “We still pay very well but, at times we lose teachers to other districts, because [they] can pay more.

The parcel tax also provides funding for elective programs, which are often the first to be cut when the budget is tight, Giglio said. In 2004, HHS considered cutting the number of language classes it offered. 

“Those were elective classes that weren’t required for graduation. Yet, we know they’re extremely important,” Giglio said. “They’re a big draw for our school. [Parcel taxes have] allowed us to keep things like music, arts and languages, because it [would be] really hard to build the program back [once it was cut].”

While the parcel tax has changed from 2004, Clark said it is still extremely important for FUHSD. The state looks at the budget every three years and the district needs to prove it will still be solvent in 2023, he said.

“Each teacher’s [salary is] a little bit over $100,000 so  one way of looking at that is the equivalent of about maybe about 40 teachers. It is quite a few people,” Clark said. “Now, we would probably find other ways to save money, but if [Measure M] didn’t pass, we would have to cut $5 million.”

FUHSD ran multiple polls to ensure the community would be willing to renew the parcel tax, Bove said. The district initially wanted to raise the parcel tax by $50 dollars, however, since the measure requires a two-thirds majority vote, they decided to keep it the same. 

“We’re just grateful [for] the community. It looks like they really are in support of keeping this tax,” Bove said. “We know that California is a very tax burdened state, so when the local community agrees [to] give us their property tax — thank you.”