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School board member John de Beck said his parcel tax proposal, originally reported to bring $30 million into San Diego Unified schools, would likely net $92.25 million. De Beck has floated the tax as San Diego schools grapple with a potential $80 million budget cut proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At a Tuesday school board meeting, de Beck gave a figure of $29.25 million. Asked yesterday about the discrepancy, he said he misspoke.

De Beck’s estimate is based on a $97.50 per parcel tax for all property owners in the school district, and a figure of 366,000 parcels. He guessed that 66,000 parcels are owned by seniors, who would be exempt from the tax. His version is a draft, he cautioned, saying he would be amenable to a provision that reduced the tax, depending on the actual severity of planned budget cuts come July.

“If you’re trying to make a school district world class, you can’t go nickel and diming it,” de Beck said. “Nine or ten dollars a month is not too much to make our schools world-class.”

A facilities bond is already in the works, planned for November’s ballot. De Beck said he would advocate for both. Teachers union president Camille Zombro said the union would support a parcel tax as “a long-term solution to our chronic under-funding.” In contrast, the union recently withdrew from a bond planning body, calling it ill-planned and ill-timed in light of the 913 layoff notices sent to San Diego teachers. Unlike a bond, the tax could be spent on ongoing expenses such as salaries.

If the school board votes to place the tax on the November ballot as well, it would require a 67 percent majority to pass, unlike the bond measure, which only requires 55 percent approval. It’s widely believed to be an uphill battle, but de Beck said he isn’t fretting about the political fallout of proposing a tax.

“If people defeat me (for school board) next time for raising taxes for kids, so be it,” de Beck said.

EMILY ALPERT

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