Is $8 per month too much to help students?

It appears that Fontana Unified will put a parcel tax to the voters of the city.

Click here for a link to the Google cache of Fontana Herald Story about parcel tax

In an attempt to avoid future layoffs and program cuts and to restore some recently eliminated programs, the Fontana Unified School District approved on Monday night a resolution that calls for a special election for a parcel tax that could help the struggling district.

On a 3-2 vote, the FUSD approved the special election for a parcel tax that would raise up to $16 million in a four-year period — revenue that could help make up for some of the drastic cutbacks the district has been forced to endure in recent years.

Board Members Gus Hawthorn and Sophia Green voted against the resolution.

“I’m very grateful that some of the board members agree with me in that this is something we have to at least try to do,” said Trustee Leticia Garcia, who proposed the resolution. “I’m ready to do the work. I agree that this is a hard time to give more, but if we truly want to make education a priority, we’ve got to put our money where our mouth is. I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure I can provide for our 42,000 students.”

If the parcel tax is approved by two-thirds of the voting electorate, it would raise $96 per parcel within the FUSD. There are 39,962 parcels within the district, according to state statistics.

So, the tax for most homeowners would be $96 for the year. That’s $8 per month. So, if I told you that you could save the counseling program in Fontana for $8 per month, would you do it? Let’s put that in perspective. For $8 I can buy an mp3 version of an album off of Amazon.com. I can get a paperback book. I could buy a pack of cigarettes and a can of soda. I could buy two Jamba Juice smoothies. I could get two venti lattes with syrup shots for flavor from Starbucks. I could get a combo meal from most major fast food chains around here and have about a buck and half left over. Maybe two meals if I played my cards right.

Or, if I just spent that much money in one month I could save at least 70 jobs in Fontana Unified. I could make sure that students continued to have guidance for college, class selection, and also got to take advantage of group counseling on issues like anger management, grief, addiction, eating disorders and more.

But, I heard that some of my fellow union members actually oppose the parcel tax because they don’t want to pay more taxes.

My jaw hit the floor. Seriously? The local government comes to us with a reasonable request for money that has restrictions on how it can be used that will directly benefit members of our bargaining unit and the children of the district and you can’t do without a couple lattes every month?

And, if I may stand on my figurative porch and get all “you kids stay off of my lawn!” on you for a moment, I have to say that this is what is wrong with our country. We ignore blatant misuse of government like bailouts for rich people who didn’t even need it, or when Obama appoints the GE Chairman to his committee to create jobs and prosperity for America without a trace of irony or addressing the fact that GE not only paid zero income tax this year but in fact received a tax credit while posting billions of profit. But, instead, we act like it’s public employees that bankrupted Wall Street. And, when we actually would be able to see a direct benefit for the tax we pay, well, that’s just too much to ask now.

Honestly, that’s just disgusting. I don’t like paying taxes any more than anyone else. I paid thousands in taxes over the last couple of years. I just wrote checks to both the Federal Treasury and the Franchise Tax Board this week. Not fun. But, I would gladly pay $96 a year to save jobs and services for students in Fontana. The Board members that spoke against the tax indicated that they did so because of how tough the financial climate is. Granted, this is true, but do you know anyone that can’t set aside about $100 for a year? I can recycle cans to make $8 a month. I’m sorry, but saying that you’re against the parcel tax because people are paying too much in taxes already is like saying you’re gonna drink a diet coke instead of regular coke to go with your double bacon cheeseburger because you’re already taking in enough calories.

We have a word for that. It’s called delusion. You’re deluding yourself if you think that diet coke is gonna make a difference. And, you’re deluding yourself if you think $8 a month is going to break your budget. I’m thinking you have bigger problems than a parcel tax if you can’t afford $8 a month.

I’m thinking maybe you might need to do without the bacon double cheeseburger. And, if you had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich a couple times a month instead of the that cheeseburger, you might be able to make a difference to the kids of the district.

Honestly, any teacher, educator, union member that says they are against the parcel tax can never again utter the most overused words in education; “I’m here for the kids. This is all for the kids.” The person that says that the most usually isn’t.

I’m willing to give up a couple of lattes per month. Are you?

Update 4/17/11: When I originally wrote this, I had read the article as saying that the parcel tax money was going to be used specifically to bring back the Counseling Department and reduce class sizes. I do know that the Board has stated that restoring the Counseling Department is a priority. If they got the parcel tax and then DIDN’T restore Counseling, I think those contentious meetings last month would feel like paradise compared to what they would get from all of us. I, personally, would feel lied to if they didn’t restore at least Counseling and library services.

But, still, my larger point is how out of control we are about not having new taxes. It’s as if any new tax is a non-starter regardless of what it’s for. And, in this case, the closed-minded view that any amount is too much.

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