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In San Diego Unified, a school board member is proposing a ballot measure calling for a parcel tax to offset budget cuts posed by the state. Similar taxes have poured funds in Oakland schools, nearly halving the amount that the Northern California school district could be asked would’ve been forced to cut.

Trustee John de Beck said the proposal, named the San Diego Children’s Quality Education Act of 2008, could bring nearly $30 million to the school district, which faces an estimated $80 million shortfall if budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger come to fruition. De Beck based his estimate on a $97.50 tax per land parcel in the district, but said the exact amount would be determined by polling and consultants. To be approved, a parcel tax must receive 67 percent of the vote.

“I don’t want this to be set in stone,” he said. “This is just a suggestion.”

A draft written by de Beck said that homeowners age 65 and older could be exempt, and that an independent citizens oversight committee, like the committee created for the district’s last facilities bond, would be created to monitor the expenditures. De Beck listed possible expenditures as teacher training opportunities and resources, and methods to attract and retain teachers.

Historically, parcel taxes have been successful in politically liberal communities, making some school staffers skeptical that the proposal would fly in San Diego. The school district is also weighing a new facilities bond, to be placed on the ballot this fall.

EMILY ALPERT

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