The Los Gatos Union School District is responsible for educating 2,767 students at Fisher Middle School and four elementary schools. On Nov. 2, voters will decide if the existing school parcel tax should be renewed and increased. Photo: Judy Peterson

The Los Gatos Union School District’s parcel tax expires next June, so voters are being asked to renew—and increase—the existing parcel tax.

There will be two vote centers open in Los Gatos for the Nov. 2 election, with vote-by-mail ballots hitting mailboxes in early October.  

The parcel tax is listed as Measure B on the ballot.

The expiring $290 parcel tax was approved by voters in 2013. Now, the school district is proposing to add $45 to the tax, bringing the total to $335 per parcel, per year.

Seniors would be exempt from the tax; otherwise it would apply to all residential and commercial properties within the school district’s service area.

The proposed tax would generate an estimated $3.2 million annually for eight years and includes a 2 percent annual “inflation adjustment” that kicks in during year two.

“This measure will save 23 teachers’ jobs,” said “Yes on B for LG” co-chair Ryan Rosenberg. “A great way to think about that is 23 is (about) the number of teachers we have at Blossom Hill and Daves Avenue elementaries. The other thing to be aware of is there has been a parcel tax in town for 30 years and it’s had the same $290 price for 20 years. During that time purchasing power has declined, so one of the things they’re doing is asking for a small increase.” 

The Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association submitted the ballot argument against Measure B. Brian Richardson is one of two local residents who argues the tax isn’t needed.   

“California is a rich state and we get taxed more,” Richardson said. “Los Gatos has a lot more property tax revenue than other areas—houses cost twice as much as Campbell, a lot of people are older and don’t have kids and young families can’t afford to live here. We’re wasting money—it’s horrible how much money we bring in and don’t spend for the good of people.”

The ballot argument against Measure B talks about 2019-2020 math and English literacy results, pointing out that 23.49 percent are not proficient in math and 21.95 percent of students are not proficient in English.  

The problem with that argument, according to Rosenberg, is that LGUSD students didn’t take math and English proficiency tests last year due to Covid-19, which is one reason why he calls the “No on B” argument “misleading” and “completely false.”

The numbers the “No on B” group used appear to be from 2018-2019 when just over 78 percent of LGUSD students demonstrated math proficiency and 76.52 percent demonstrated English proficiency.  

“Los Gatos schools are way ahead of state levels,” Rosenberg said. “In fact, Los Gatos is 27 percent better than the state average in meeting or exceeding English literacy standards and 37 percent better…in meeting or exceeding mathematics standards.”

When asked about the proficiency statistics, Richardson said, “Where are our priorities? They need to do better. Money isn’t the solution. People need to get creative and do a better job. I’m a CEO of a small company and we sit down and come up with better ideas—with the internet and the smart people in this town we can come up with solutions. That’s what Silicon Valley is all about.”

The “Yes” and “No” camps also disagree on the amount of money the district spends on each student. 

The “Yes” camp says the district spends $14,020 per student annually, while the “No” camp puts the figure at $15,280, “or 113 percent over the statewide average.”

“Not even close,” Rosenberg said. “This has several facts wrong. They say expenses but then use the number for revenue. Los Gatos revenue was 13 percent over the state average for K-8 districts.”

The Los Gatos Union School District enrolls 2,767 students at five schools: Blossom Hill, Daves Avenue, Lexington and Van Meter elementaries, and Fisher Middle School.

“We have great schools but I worry people take that for granted,” Rosenberg said. “It’s not automatic that they’ll continue to be great if we don’t fund them. Why do people move here? For the schools.”   

If approved, Measure B would establish a citizens’ oversight committee to monitor spending. The argument for the measure says proceeds would be used to retain teachers, maintain core academics and fund STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) programs. 

It needs two-thirds percent voter approval.

In-person Los Gatos Vote Centers will be at Blossom Hill Elementary, 16400 Blossom Hill Road, and the Redwood Estates Pavilion, 21450 Madrone Drive. They’ll be open from 9am to 5pm, Oct. 23-Nov. 1, and 7am to 8pm, Nov. 2.

Vote-by-mail ballots can be mailed free of charge or dropped off at the Los Gatos Civic Center, 110 E. Main St., or Monte Sereno City Hall, 18041 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road. The drop boxes will be available Oct. 4 through 8pm election day.

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