Stamp of Approval? Mailed Votes Due in School Tax Election

It’s time for another election in San Marino, as residents are tasked with mailing in their ballots asking whether to renew a six-year parcel tax on behalf of the San Marino Unified School District.
On the ballot is the proposed renewal of Measure R, a $366.40-per-parcel tax on San Marino properties that is expected to generate about $1.6 million annually to fund 13 full-time positions for SMUSD and an additional part-time position. This parcel tax was last renewed in 2013 and has been in effect since 1991.
Residents will have until Tuesday, Feb. 26, to put their ballots in the mail to be officially counted. Any ballots postmarked after that date aren’t counted, and ballots postmarked on that day will have a three-day window in which to be delivered to the Los Angeles County registrar’s office.
“There’s no poll to go to,” said Nam Jack, a former school board member who is coordinating the campaign to renew the tax, as a reminder for newer residents. “It’s a mail-ballot election only.”
Another difference is that a simple majority won’t be enough to renew the tax: Approval by at least two-thirds of those who cast votes is needed to extend the tax.
“If we don’t raise the money, the school board hasn’t decided what’s going to be cut,” Jack said. “It could potentially have an effect on all four schools” in the district.
“I think it’s critical,” she said when asked about the measure’s importance. “This is not, to me, a political issue, because all the money goes to classroom instruction. It does not go to administration. To me, it’s simply a vote for your teachers and your children’s education.”
The school district has two parcel taxes, both of which pay for employee positions and have received more than 70% of voter approval in recent history. The tax being considered in this election was most recently renewed in 2013 with 2,267 votes, or 71.58% of the total. SMUSD’s other parcel tax was renewed in 2015 with 2,131 votes (75.62%) and in 2009 with 3,476 votes (71.19%).
If the tax is renewed, exemptions are available for those who are 65 and older, own two or more contiguous parcels or have a disability, among other categories.
The results of the election are expected to be certified by March 8. For more information, visit lavote.net.

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