Measure A is defeated!

Thank you to all supporters and volunteers! The community have spoken – we have successfully defeated Measure A, and by a higher margin than the previous attempt to pass a parcel tax measure in March 2020.

Together we saved Cupertino, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Saratoga, Santa Clara, and Los Altos taxpayers more than $112M.

With Measure A defeated, there still remains a question about whether CUSD board of education is representing the best interests of our community and our students. Visit RecallCUSDBoard.org to learn more about the challenges our school district is facing and what you can do about it!

What is Measure A?

In March 2020 voters rejected a 5-year $125/year parcel tax measure O proposed by Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) Board of Education. The district planned to raise ~$4.3M/year, or ~$21.5M total.

A year later the same board is spending another $1M of taxpayers money from the already constrained school budget in a futile attempt to revive a once-rejected parcel tax measure, yet now they are asking to get $398/year from each parcel.

Even the board members themselves are very skeptical, at best, at Measure A’s chances of success at the polls as any parcel tax measure requires a super-majority (⅔ of the votes) to pass.  

Yet now, like a gambling addict, the district is upping the ante: they are asking to get $398/year from each parcel for… eight years! This translates into $14M/year for a grand total of… $112M! The board admitted that Measure A is unlikely to garner enough support, but hey, gambling away money that is not yours is easy!

This was the year when the CUSD kept all 26 of its schools shut, and virtually all of its ~17,000 students home in distance learning. A year of kids losing any and all interest in education. A year of kids developing and suffering from a plethora of psychological issues. A year of kids developing eating and sleeping disorders. A year that the kids spent in virtual isolation from their friends, peers, classmates. A year of Zoom doom. A year when a lot of people have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. A year when some parents had to quit their jobs to stay home with the kids, and de-facto become teachers, because an hour or two of Zoom/day is not a substitute for in-person education, not even by a long shot.

Vote NO on Measure A by May 4th, 2021 to send a strong message that our school district needs to be fiscally responsible and prioritize students’ interests above all. Would you trust the board that sided with the unions and kept schools closed for over a year with any more tax money? 

Read also a strong opposition to Measure A by Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association.

Get the facts! Vote NO on A!

FAQ

By May 4th, 2021 CUSD residents will vote on a measure A brought forward unanimously by the CUSD board: 
  • Jerry Liu, President
  • Satheesh Madhathil, Vice President
  • Sylvia Leong, Board Clerk
  • Phyllis Vogel, Board Member
  • Lori Cunningham, Board Member (currently being recalled - www.recallcusdboard.org
A vocal minority of parents bullied the board into rejecting the plan presented by the Citizens Advisory Committee and is now spending $1M from the already constrained school budget on trying to revive a once rejected parcel tax measure. Vote NO on Measure A by May 4th, 2021 or you will end up paying more starting already this July to keep up an nearly insolvent and inefficient system and keeping half-empty schools open.
Nothing. The CUSD board failed to take any measures to address the situation in the past year, and has decided to spend $1M more to try again. Moreover, what the district and the board are not mentioning on the Measure A ballot is that they are getting a lot more money from the property tax compared to earlier projections (+$5M - see Board advance on April 8th, 2021 @ 4:18:20), as well a one-time COVID relief funds $9.7M + $4.5M (Board advance on April 8th, 2021 @ 2:49:20).
CUSD Parcel Taxes timeline
CUSD Parcel Taxes timeline
Yes, in 2014 Measure A was approved and we are paying $250/year parcel tax. Measure A will expire in 2023.

Yes, we are! And probably quite a bit more than you expected—25% of the property tax goes to fund CUSD! It is the single largest allocation of your property tax.

It is also substantially more than any of the neighboring school districts the CUSD likes to compare itself against.

No. The CUSD board refused to commit to keeping the schools open even if the parcel tax measure passes (watch the board meeting to see for yourself, around 3:45:18). As enrollment is continuing to sharply decline, the need to close half-empty schools is going to increase.
The CUSD board has admitted that it is unlikely that they will garner the 66.67% support necessary to pass the measure, yet they still approved spending one million (!) dollars from the school district budget to put this measure on the ballot.
Except it really is not: “The CUSD board says that none of the funds will be used for administration. But funds generated separately from this parcel tax can be used for administration expenses without limits. So, that is really an empty promise” (source: SV Taxpayers Association). “The number of administrators has grown from 41 in 2015 to 85 in 2020 to or more than doubled, while the number of teachers has declined from 864 in 2015 to 811 in 2020” (source: CUSD Citizens Advisory Committee Binder).
As CUSD admits themselves in their presentation, there is no plan to prevent the inevitable school district insolvency. What they are asking us to do amounts to throwing good money after bad, hoping to delay the inevitable. Screenshot from the CUSD budget roadshow presentation. The title reads,
If the CUSD board will follow Citizens Advisory Committee recommendations, the school district has a chance of staying solvent. However if the board will continue its inaction, the state of California will take over. “The board members become advisory only. They don't have a specific role. They don't get paid. The district superintendent is no longer there. It is the administrator that comes in and takes over.”
The argument that CUSD funding is going to impact the local real estate market is just wishful thinking at best and a fear-mongering technique used by the CUSD board and parcel tax supporters at worst. There’s absolutely no data to support that argument. Looking at a dramatic increase in Cupertino property prices over the past decade one can confidently state that it was not driven by parcel taxes or CUSD performance as a school district.  (source) Additionally, an estimated more than 25% of students in CUSD boundaries are attending private schools already.

This very question to the CUSD Board was posed during their virtual meeting held on January 21st, 2021. The Board did not provide an answer.

We encourage you to vote NO on the parcel tax even if it is a per sq. ft. tax. There is no good reason to support any form of parcel tax until there's a sound plan on how district insolvency will be prevented, what steps CUSD will take jointly with the city council to increase the property tax base, and how schools will adjust to decreasing enrollments.

As with any catastrophe, there’s never a single culprit; here's some of them:
  • CUSD receives the majority of its funds from the local property tax. Unfortunately, Cupertino City Council is infamous for its NIMBY attitude, and while neighboring cities invested heavily in commercial and residential development, Cupertino blocked most of the new development.
  • That resulted in the stagnation of property tax collected and made CUSD dependent on the state aid under LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) to bring per-student funding to a minimum state-mandated level. However, as the number of students enrolled in CUSD schools continues to decline (cf. Census Day Enrollment data from ed-data.org below), state aid linked to the number of students is also dwindling.
  • A rational solution, which is to optimize the number of schools and bring the expenses in line with revenues, has now been rejected by the board in favor of the small—but vocal—group of local parents that prefers to see half-empty schools stay open at the expense of everyone else.
Census Day Enrollment from ed-data.org, shows a bar chart indicating the trend of decreasing enrollment numbers.

In 2019, Fair Political Practices Commission already fined the Cupertino Union School District for violating California ethics law and using public money to prepare and distribute materials regarding the Citizens’ Parcel Tax Oversight Committee.

Now, the CUSD Board appears to be exploiting their administrative resources, likely spending public money on another attempt to reach their political goals.

By all means! You can make a tax-deductible donation directly to a school, or to several schools of your choice! Some of them have a donation link on the front page of their website. For others, you may need to contact the school administration in order to get a link.

Show your support – put up a yard sign!

Got any other questions? Contact us here.