Foothill-De Anza Community College District proposes a parcel tax

Dickson Tsai

 

Measure E asks for a $69 annual parcel tax to fund Foothill and De Anza’s academic programs

 

 
 
The Foothill-De Anza parcel tax will charge $69 per parcel for six years. If passed, the $7 million will go towards key classes, programs and student services. Infographic by Dickson Tsai.The Foothill-De Anza Community College District can no longer rely on state funding to provide adequate resources for students. Cash-strapped like other public institutions, it now needs local support to reinforce its academic programs.

Calling for an annual $69 parcel tax that would last for six years, Measure E would help restore core academic classes, workforce development programs and student transfer services if passed on Nov. 2. The funds will not go towards administrative costs or salaries, and the money will stay local, essentially outside the state’s control.

“A lot of different conditions [are] pushing on us at the same time that we are actually decreasing our budget,” Vice President of the FHDA Board of Trustees Pearl Cheng said. “We have to look at a parcel tax.”

Foothill College and De Anza College collectively serve about 45,000 students, and they have recently seen an increase in demand for classes from the struggling economy. High graduation rates of high school students, unemployed workers, war veterans returning to study and cuts from the University of California and California State University systems all contribute to the demand.

The district currently receives about 98 percent of its $180 million budget from the state. However, state deficit problems have already forced the district to cut $20 million over the last two years. Over 100 positions and 500 classes have been eliminated as a result. The parcel tax is expected to close the gap by about $7 million.

“[The parcel tax] doesn’t replace completely the $20 million that the state cut, but it will certainly help us restore classes for students as well as bring back support services,” FHDA Chancellor Linda Thor said.

The measure would become the main source of additional money since the district’s only other source of income is enrollment. The state legislature, not the district, has control over tuition, and there is no indication that any changes in tuition will occur. Consequently, each community college statewide has the same tuition rate.

Measure E, unlike the college district’s previous Measure C, must pass with a two-thirds majority but is not limited to only renovating facilities. According to the measure, a citizens’ oversight committee will be established to supervise the allocation of the money. The money would allow the district to offer more core classes for students, meaning fewer applicants would have to be turned away.

High school students may see cuts towards both specific programs such as Middle College and general academic sections without funding from the parcel tax. “[The students] will probably not be able to get some if not all of the courses,” Cheng said. “We will simply just not have enough sections. And I know that it has been part of the planning of many students here [at MVHS].”

To Cheng, both Foothill College and De Anza College are assets to the community. The community values education and has been a high-demand area because of it.

“I do believe that we all have a responsibility to ensure that our community stays strong,” Cheng said. “We have to be able to put a little bit in to get the benefits that we seek: quality of living.”

For more information, visit http://www.fhda.edu/localfunding.

 
 
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