By Brandon Chen and Sandi Khine
AUSD Digital Communications Interns
In the week before the March 7 election, “Yes on Measure A” campaign volunteers and supporters underwent the final push to secure Measure A’s passage. This measure seeks to generate locally-controlled funding through a parcel tax that is exclusively used for teachers’ salaries and educational programs. Voters approved a parcel of this kind in 2012, which will expire in July 2017. As such, Arcadia Unified sought to re-establish a parcel tax to secure funding for its schools. The current measure will raise the 2012 parcel tax from $228 per parcel to $288 per parcel. Additionally, the 2017 parcel tax will last for 18 years, preventing the layoffs of 28 teachers and three counselors.
On March 7, tension, agitation, nervousness, and excitement filled one house on Hacienda Drive. On the final night of the Measure A campaign, volunteers, including those from the Arcadia Educational Foundation, teachers, officials, and parents, congregated to make compelling final phone calls to voters all over Arcadia to urge them to cast their ballots and vote “Yes on A.”
Standing just outside the makeshift phone-banking center, Arcadia High School Principal Dr. Brent Forsee sounded hopeful about the results of the elections, affirming that “there’s a lot of community support for Measure A.” He paused and continued, “That’s because the community understands the value that the school district brings to not only the kids in the community but also to home values in the community and just the ambiance of living in our community.” When asked about the whole experience leading up to the final night and reaching out to the community, he reminisced, “It’s been nice to greet people in their space, for them to see me in a little different light and for me to see them in a different light.”
Arcadia Unified School District Public Information Officer Ryan Foran explained that Arcadia Unified is one of the least state-assisted districts in the county. In general, California is one of the least federally supported in the nation, with Arcadia Unified being at the bottom of the list for funding in L.A. County. Additionally, Governor Jerry Brown recently proposed to address California’s budget deficit by cutting school funding by $1.7 billion, bringing educational funding down to the minimum allowed by California’s state constitution.
The “Yes on A” campaign had many volunteers dedicated to its passage, with senior Travis Chen trying his best to get it passed. “I tell people that in 18 years, our own classmates may even have kids in the system, and voting for Measure A is knowing that the future generation of our city is able to have the same experience we’ve had.” He also added, “Although I will be gone in less than four months, and may not reside here in 18 years, I truly believe that every Arcadian has the right and responsibility to ensure that the future of our community is brighter than ever.”
This measure needed a supermajority of 66.7 percent Yes votes to pass. In the days leading up to the election, community members were unsure about the success of the measure. “It’s hard to get to two-thirds,” said Foran. “It’s very difficult.”
Today, volunteers and supporters of Measure A can celebrate their efforts. On March 21, the L.A. County Registrar of Voters certified the election results for Measure A, which passed with 67.63 percent Yes votes and 32.37 percent No votes. The renewed measure does not go into effect until July 1, 2017, and will remain in effect for 18 years, raising a sum of $4.3 million per year for Arcadia Unified schools.