Polling Reveals Prospects for Valley Oak Parcel Tax Bleak

While the Davis Joint Unified School Board generally received good news from the returns from the polling they commissioned to test proposals for a new parcel tax, the one piece of bad news was the general unviability of the second parcel tax that would fund the continuation of Valley Oak Elementary School. While its presence on the ballot did not appear to doom the initial parcel tax, there did not appear to be sufficient support to even warrant its inclusion on the ballot.

The initial polling of 437 households in Davis conducted in late April had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent. The initial Valley Oak Polling which presented to the voter information about Valley Oak and then asked:

“Therefore, the district may place a second parcel tax proposal on the ballot to raise the funds needed to keep Valley Oak Elementary School open. Would you favor or oppose such a proposal?”

The findings for this revealed that just 35.9 percent favored this proposal while 42.9 percent opposed it. Remember all of the tax items need a two-thirds vote in order to gain approval.

Even when a the dollar figure of $32 per year was included, the opposition stayed relatively stationary at 41.7 percent, which the support rose from 35.9 to 46.2 percent, that primary came from the 20 plus percent of undecideds rather than from the opposition.

Making prospects worse, a full 51.4 percent of those polled considered themselves very aware of the district’s recent decision to close Valley Oak Elementary School and 82.4% considered themselves very or somewhat aware of the decision.

As the pollster who presented these results said, these findings indicate that the proposal is “a long way short” of the support needed to obtain a two-thirds majority. He didn’t “see it as having a viability district-wide.”

However, additional polling does suggest that having both items on the ballot, “does not seem to disrupt the ability to get the two-thirds vote that you need” on the initial parcel tax. In other words, having the Valley Oak item “will not harm viability” of the initial parcel tax.

Even when they changed the wording from testing “Valley Oak” to testing the wording of keeping “all nine schools,” the second proposal still fails. “The semantic change does not give the second proposal any more life.”

He further argued that the Valley Oak proposal does not even pass in the Valley Oak neighborhood and that in no district does it achieve a two-thirds vote and furthermore it is a long distance from even a majority.

When asked if under ideal campaign conditions, whereby there was an unopposed campaign if it could achieve a two-thirds vote. The pollster said, “I think it’s a long way and will never get there [to two-thirds support].” He said is was simply too great a distance to make up that kind of ground, and in twenty years of work, he has never seen that kind of movement. He said, “it would be an extraordinary situation to move from this level of support to two-thirds.”

And while the polling again suggests that it would not harm the chances of the main parcel tax, the sense seems to be at this point, that they should not take the risk on the parcel tax as an option to keep Valley Oak Elementary School open. In fact, there are a number of reasons to not do it, aside from the risk. The most likely route to take would be the continuation of their efforts to draft a charter and turn Valley Oak into a charter school.

Overall the news was overwhelmingly good for passage of the main parcel tax. 81.3% favor supporting the parcel tax, “without changing any of the details of the current parcel tax.” With only 7.8% opposition, that is well above the two-thirds vote needed to approve the renewal of the tax at current levels.

They also tested for an increase in the parcel tax up to $194 per home and $97 per apartment per year. Support drops, but it remains at 64.3 percent and more importantly only 20 percent opposition.

They also tested for length of renewal being extended from four years to six years and found about the same level of support as they had for the tax increase.

As we have mentioned previously, the parcel tax will most likely be on the ballot with the library tax. Testing them together found that both parcel taxes appear to have strong support–in the 70 percent ranges even when polled together with a full 63.5 percent pledging support to both and an additional 12 percent supporting just the school parcel and 9.1 percent supporting only the library tax. Just 7 percent of the voters opposed both.

The polling companies conclusions and recommendations are as follows:

There is an overall strong base of support for renewing the parcel tax. The current use of the parcel tax appears to align well with the community’s priorities for education and the community seems strongly in support for funding additional programs as well.

“Increasing the cost of the tax to address the impact of inflation does reduce the level of support available for renewal but we believe there is adequate support among parents and very active voters to recommend that a proposal to increase the cost to $194 be placed on the November ballot.”

Moreover, most of the changes being considered are feasible including an extension to six years. Adding an “oversight committee” would help to build support for the renewal. A senior exemption for voters over 55 years of age does not appear to harm the prospects for passage with other voters. However, they do not recommend adding in a CPI index to the parcel tax, as support for a COLA does not appear high enough.

They were very clear that there is no such thing as an easy tax election, however, they felt with a strong campaign and limited or no organized opposition, that these taxes with some adjustments were both feasible and likely. With only a bare 10 to 20 percent opposition, it seems promising that organized efforts to oppose the measure will not be mounted.

Still while the findings overall for the parcel taxes were reassuring, the support for a Valley Oak parcel tax, even in its own neighborhood is very discouraging. It demonstrates that the efforts underway to produce a charter school need to continue.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Budget/Taxes

128 comments

  1. That’s disappointing, but ultimately, not too surprising. The Board majority (Taylor, Dalaiden, and Jones) offered only tepid support for the VO parcel tax during the board discussion over closure issues. In addition, it seems apparent that the District’s administrative leadership has done nothing over the last couple of months to work with the VO community on transition issues, nor have they offered much support or counsel on the parcel tax itself.

    On a related note, the much-ballyhooed Achievement Gap TF released some preliminary recommendations earlier this week. Without exception, each recommendation has a fairly significant price tag associated with it. The timing of the report is interesting in that it comes during a period where the board has voted to close a school that has done more than any other to close the Achievement Gap at the elementary level, all the while citing budget and funding shortfalls as the chief reason.

    The real “shortfall” in the DJUSD is in the area of leadership. We can be a district where innovation and creative problem-solving return to the forefront of district and board operations. The charter school movement that has taken root in the VO community is a step in the right direction.

  2. That’s disappointing, but ultimately, not too surprising. The Board majority (Taylor, Dalaiden, and Jones) offered only tepid support for the VO parcel tax during the board discussion over closure issues. In addition, it seems apparent that the District’s administrative leadership has done nothing over the last couple of months to work with the VO community on transition issues, nor have they offered much support or counsel on the parcel tax itself.

    On a related note, the much-ballyhooed Achievement Gap TF released some preliminary recommendations earlier this week. Without exception, each recommendation has a fairly significant price tag associated with it. The timing of the report is interesting in that it comes during a period where the board has voted to close a school that has done more than any other to close the Achievement Gap at the elementary level, all the while citing budget and funding shortfalls as the chief reason.

    The real “shortfall” in the DJUSD is in the area of leadership. We can be a district where innovation and creative problem-solving return to the forefront of district and board operations. The charter school movement that has taken root in the VO community is a step in the right direction.

  3. That’s disappointing, but ultimately, not too surprising. The Board majority (Taylor, Dalaiden, and Jones) offered only tepid support for the VO parcel tax during the board discussion over closure issues. In addition, it seems apparent that the District’s administrative leadership has done nothing over the last couple of months to work with the VO community on transition issues, nor have they offered much support or counsel on the parcel tax itself.

    On a related note, the much-ballyhooed Achievement Gap TF released some preliminary recommendations earlier this week. Without exception, each recommendation has a fairly significant price tag associated with it. The timing of the report is interesting in that it comes during a period where the board has voted to close a school that has done more than any other to close the Achievement Gap at the elementary level, all the while citing budget and funding shortfalls as the chief reason.

    The real “shortfall” in the DJUSD is in the area of leadership. We can be a district where innovation and creative problem-solving return to the forefront of district and board operations. The charter school movement that has taken root in the VO community is a step in the right direction.

  4. That’s disappointing, but ultimately, not too surprising. The Board majority (Taylor, Dalaiden, and Jones) offered only tepid support for the VO parcel tax during the board discussion over closure issues. In addition, it seems apparent that the District’s administrative leadership has done nothing over the last couple of months to work with the VO community on transition issues, nor have they offered much support or counsel on the parcel tax itself.

    On a related note, the much-ballyhooed Achievement Gap TF released some preliminary recommendations earlier this week. Without exception, each recommendation has a fairly significant price tag associated with it. The timing of the report is interesting in that it comes during a period where the board has voted to close a school that has done more than any other to close the Achievement Gap at the elementary level, all the while citing budget and funding shortfalls as the chief reason.

    The real “shortfall” in the DJUSD is in the area of leadership. We can be a district where innovation and creative problem-solving return to the forefront of district and board operations. The charter school movement that has taken root in the VO community is a step in the right direction.

  5. As with most polling, the rub is in the question. Evidently, the question appears not to have been asked: If the supplemental VO addition was part of the parcel tax and if a NO vote eliminated the funding for current “enrichment” programs, would you vote NO?
    For myself, I will be voting NO if VO is still slated for closure when the parcel tax is offered to the Davis voters. Those who vote against all tax increases do not expose themselves to public ridicule when polled. They express themselves on election day. Add to this, voters like myself who have always supported this parcel tax but feel that placing violin lessons over critical, successful programs is unacceptable, and I predict that passage, in spite of the polling, will be a “squeaker” at best and could very well fail.

  6. As with most polling, the rub is in the question. Evidently, the question appears not to have been asked: If the supplemental VO addition was part of the parcel tax and if a NO vote eliminated the funding for current “enrichment” programs, would you vote NO?
    For myself, I will be voting NO if VO is still slated for closure when the parcel tax is offered to the Davis voters. Those who vote against all tax increases do not expose themselves to public ridicule when polled. They express themselves on election day. Add to this, voters like myself who have always supported this parcel tax but feel that placing violin lessons over critical, successful programs is unacceptable, and I predict that passage, in spite of the polling, will be a “squeaker” at best and could very well fail.

  7. As with most polling, the rub is in the question. Evidently, the question appears not to have been asked: If the supplemental VO addition was part of the parcel tax and if a NO vote eliminated the funding for current “enrichment” programs, would you vote NO?
    For myself, I will be voting NO if VO is still slated for closure when the parcel tax is offered to the Davis voters. Those who vote against all tax increases do not expose themselves to public ridicule when polled. They express themselves on election day. Add to this, voters like myself who have always supported this parcel tax but feel that placing violin lessons over critical, successful programs is unacceptable, and I predict that passage, in spite of the polling, will be a “squeaker” at best and could very well fail.

  8. As with most polling, the rub is in the question. Evidently, the question appears not to have been asked: If the supplemental VO addition was part of the parcel tax and if a NO vote eliminated the funding for current “enrichment” programs, would you vote NO?
    For myself, I will be voting NO if VO is still slated for closure when the parcel tax is offered to the Davis voters. Those who vote against all tax increases do not expose themselves to public ridicule when polled. They express themselves on election day. Add to this, voters like myself who have always supported this parcel tax but feel that placing violin lessons over critical, successful programs is unacceptable, and I predict that passage, in spite of the polling, will be a “squeaker” at best and could very well fail.

  9. The vote is on whether or not we want to provide money to enrich the programs at all Davis’ schools, not whether you like the school board right now.

    Voting no for the reason you give – if Valley Oak is slated to close then make sure all Davis kids feel the pain – is just petty.

  10. The vote is on whether or not we want to provide money to enrich the programs at all Davis’ schools, not whether you like the school board right now.

    Voting no for the reason you give – if Valley Oak is slated to close then make sure all Davis kids feel the pain – is just petty.

  11. The vote is on whether or not we want to provide money to enrich the programs at all Davis’ schools, not whether you like the school board right now.

    Voting no for the reason you give – if Valley Oak is slated to close then make sure all Davis kids feel the pain – is just petty.

  12. The vote is on whether or not we want to provide money to enrich the programs at all Davis’ schools, not whether you like the school board right now.

    Voting no for the reason you give – if Valley Oak is slated to close then make sure all Davis kids feel the pain – is just petty.

  13. Thank you, anonymous 1 and 2 for your support of Valley Oak. Anon. 3, I understand your point. To be honest, my knee jerk reaction was the same as Anon. 2. But…I don’t want to see any kids suffer.

    I do not know exactly which programs the initial parcel tax supports, but my impression is that it primarily supports enrichment (extras). It is bothersome that our community seems to value the extras over the core programs.

    I have to commend Interim Super. Richard Whitmore for having the decency to come talk to our staff about the polling results prior to last night’s meeting, which I was not able to attend. Unfortunately, the meeting occured at lunch time, which limited available time for discussion and left me with indigestion.

    I did ask the question, “Why can’t we put both tax amounts together and propose one tax for all children?” The answer was two-fold. First, the amount would then exceed $200, which seemed to lower support. Secondly, that is not what the board approved. They approved a second tax.

    I have talked to colleagues about getting out and really talking to the public. $32 a year is nothing. That is less than one cup of Starbucks a month. I am sure many people spend that much on chewing gum. I think that even if the initial support is low, it is not hopeless. Those in support of the Valley Oak children just need to be very vocal.

    Was a final recommendation made for whether or not the “Valley Oak Tax” should be on the ballot? Do we know when the board will decide on the issue?

    Let’s not give up yet. The charter movement should continue, the efforts to pass the second parcel tax should continue, and pressure should continue to be applied to the district, because they are the ones responsible for the free and equal education of all children. Not my charter friends or the tax payers.

    All support is greatly appreciated.

  14. Thank you, anonymous 1 and 2 for your support of Valley Oak. Anon. 3, I understand your point. To be honest, my knee jerk reaction was the same as Anon. 2. But…I don’t want to see any kids suffer.

    I do not know exactly which programs the initial parcel tax supports, but my impression is that it primarily supports enrichment (extras). It is bothersome that our community seems to value the extras over the core programs.

    I have to commend Interim Super. Richard Whitmore for having the decency to come talk to our staff about the polling results prior to last night’s meeting, which I was not able to attend. Unfortunately, the meeting occured at lunch time, which limited available time for discussion and left me with indigestion.

    I did ask the question, “Why can’t we put both tax amounts together and propose one tax for all children?” The answer was two-fold. First, the amount would then exceed $200, which seemed to lower support. Secondly, that is not what the board approved. They approved a second tax.

    I have talked to colleagues about getting out and really talking to the public. $32 a year is nothing. That is less than one cup of Starbucks a month. I am sure many people spend that much on chewing gum. I think that even if the initial support is low, it is not hopeless. Those in support of the Valley Oak children just need to be very vocal.

    Was a final recommendation made for whether or not the “Valley Oak Tax” should be on the ballot? Do we know when the board will decide on the issue?

    Let’s not give up yet. The charter movement should continue, the efforts to pass the second parcel tax should continue, and pressure should continue to be applied to the district, because they are the ones responsible for the free and equal education of all children. Not my charter friends or the tax payers.

    All support is greatly appreciated.

  15. Thank you, anonymous 1 and 2 for your support of Valley Oak. Anon. 3, I understand your point. To be honest, my knee jerk reaction was the same as Anon. 2. But…I don’t want to see any kids suffer.

    I do not know exactly which programs the initial parcel tax supports, but my impression is that it primarily supports enrichment (extras). It is bothersome that our community seems to value the extras over the core programs.

    I have to commend Interim Super. Richard Whitmore for having the decency to come talk to our staff about the polling results prior to last night’s meeting, which I was not able to attend. Unfortunately, the meeting occured at lunch time, which limited available time for discussion and left me with indigestion.

    I did ask the question, “Why can’t we put both tax amounts together and propose one tax for all children?” The answer was two-fold. First, the amount would then exceed $200, which seemed to lower support. Secondly, that is not what the board approved. They approved a second tax.

    I have talked to colleagues about getting out and really talking to the public. $32 a year is nothing. That is less than one cup of Starbucks a month. I am sure many people spend that much on chewing gum. I think that even if the initial support is low, it is not hopeless. Those in support of the Valley Oak children just need to be very vocal.

    Was a final recommendation made for whether or not the “Valley Oak Tax” should be on the ballot? Do we know when the board will decide on the issue?

    Let’s not give up yet. The charter movement should continue, the efforts to pass the second parcel tax should continue, and pressure should continue to be applied to the district, because they are the ones responsible for the free and equal education of all children. Not my charter friends or the tax payers.

    All support is greatly appreciated.

  16. Thank you, anonymous 1 and 2 for your support of Valley Oak. Anon. 3, I understand your point. To be honest, my knee jerk reaction was the same as Anon. 2. But…I don’t want to see any kids suffer.

    I do not know exactly which programs the initial parcel tax supports, but my impression is that it primarily supports enrichment (extras). It is bothersome that our community seems to value the extras over the core programs.

    I have to commend Interim Super. Richard Whitmore for having the decency to come talk to our staff about the polling results prior to last night’s meeting, which I was not able to attend. Unfortunately, the meeting occured at lunch time, which limited available time for discussion and left me with indigestion.

    I did ask the question, “Why can’t we put both tax amounts together and propose one tax for all children?” The answer was two-fold. First, the amount would then exceed $200, which seemed to lower support. Secondly, that is not what the board approved. They approved a second tax.

    I have talked to colleagues about getting out and really talking to the public. $32 a year is nothing. That is less than one cup of Starbucks a month. I am sure many people spend that much on chewing gum. I think that even if the initial support is low, it is not hopeless. Those in support of the Valley Oak children just need to be very vocal.

    Was a final recommendation made for whether or not the “Valley Oak Tax” should be on the ballot? Do we know when the board will decide on the issue?

    Let’s not give up yet. The charter movement should continue, the efforts to pass the second parcel tax should continue, and pressure should continue to be applied to the district, because they are the ones responsible for the free and equal education of all children. Not my charter friends or the tax payers.

    All support is greatly appreciated.

  17. Nikki:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Of course, the board could revisit their vote in light of the polling results. There was sufficient support for money going to keep nine schools open in the poll, although some legitimate question about whether people knew exactly what nine schools meant given the results when asked directly about Valley Oak.

    I do agree based on the polling the assessment that they could not go to $226 which is what it would take to include money for Valley Oak.

    At this point, I don’t think any one wants to put the second parcel tax on the ballot because even supporters are afraid that a resounding defeat would harm the chances to keep Valley Oak open either through a charter or if the fall enrollment shows a great increase like last year.

    The two best options at this point are really the charter and also getting two pro-Valley Oak SB members elected.

  18. Nikki:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Of course, the board could revisit their vote in light of the polling results. There was sufficient support for money going to keep nine schools open in the poll, although some legitimate question about whether people knew exactly what nine schools meant given the results when asked directly about Valley Oak.

    I do agree based on the polling the assessment that they could not go to $226 which is what it would take to include money for Valley Oak.

    At this point, I don’t think any one wants to put the second parcel tax on the ballot because even supporters are afraid that a resounding defeat would harm the chances to keep Valley Oak open either through a charter or if the fall enrollment shows a great increase like last year.

    The two best options at this point are really the charter and also getting two pro-Valley Oak SB members elected.

  19. Nikki:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Of course, the board could revisit their vote in light of the polling results. There was sufficient support for money going to keep nine schools open in the poll, although some legitimate question about whether people knew exactly what nine schools meant given the results when asked directly about Valley Oak.

    I do agree based on the polling the assessment that they could not go to $226 which is what it would take to include money for Valley Oak.

    At this point, I don’t think any one wants to put the second parcel tax on the ballot because even supporters are afraid that a resounding defeat would harm the chances to keep Valley Oak open either through a charter or if the fall enrollment shows a great increase like last year.

    The two best options at this point are really the charter and also getting two pro-Valley Oak SB members elected.

  20. Nikki:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Of course, the board could revisit their vote in light of the polling results. There was sufficient support for money going to keep nine schools open in the poll, although some legitimate question about whether people knew exactly what nine schools meant given the results when asked directly about Valley Oak.

    I do agree based on the polling the assessment that they could not go to $226 which is what it would take to include money for Valley Oak.

    At this point, I don’t think any one wants to put the second parcel tax on the ballot because even supporters are afraid that a resounding defeat would harm the chances to keep Valley Oak open either through a charter or if the fall enrollment shows a great increase like last year.

    The two best options at this point are really the charter and also getting two pro-Valley Oak SB members elected.