By Mary O’KEEFE
La Cañada Flintridge residents have been receiving their Measure LC parcel tax ballots in the mail. It is now up to the residents within the La Cañada Unified School District’s area to approve, or not approve, a $450 annual tax.
In reality residents have already been paying $150 annually, so this would be an increase of $300. The $150 was part of a parcel tax that was approved by 75% of La Cañada Flintridge voters in 2009, but it is set to expire later this year.
The purpose of the measure is to keep LC schools strong. According to information released by the Committee for Measure LC, local students consistently score in the top 10% in California and last year 98% of LCHS graduates enrolled in post-secondary institutions, with many attending the nation’s top universities.
If passed, Measure LC will help the district maintain its high performing schools in many ways, including attracting qualified teachers and maintaining manageable class sizes. The funds will remain local and are restricted from being spent on district administrators’ salaries and benefits. A Citizens Oversight Committee will be monitoring the funding.
If Measure LC does not pass, according to information released by the committee, and Measure LC (2009) expires, about $1million would be cut from the district’s annual budget.
To keep a school district competitive takes funding – lots of funding. Although the state has been more generous with its educational funds recently, it has not replaced the millions that have been lost over the years. According to the committee, that is over $17 million that will not be restored.
Barry Reed, chair for the Committee for Measure LC, said the tax, if passed, will keep the district from making deeper cuts.
“The district has been using its rainy day reserves,” he said. That funding was used with the expectation that money owed to the district would be returned; that, however, is unlikely.
Residents in the western section of La Cañada known as the Sagebrush area, bordered by Ocean View Boulevard and Rosebank Avenue, do not vote on the measure because those students currently attend the Glendale Unified School District.
“There is an exemption for a homeowner who is 65 [years old] or older,” Reed said. “They can vote for the measure but can exempt out.”
If a resident was exempt for the 2009 Measure LC, then they do not need to request exemption again; however, if they did not qualify then but do now they need to apply, Reed explained.
Measure LC is an all-mail ballot special election. The ballots must be received by March 4.
“There is a drop location at [La Cañada Flintridge] City Hall,” Reed said. “However, we are encouraging everyone to send [in their ballot] as soon as they receive it.”