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L.A. Unified to postpone parcel-tax vote

June 5, 2012 |  6:00 pm

Los Angeles Schools Superintendent John Deasy

Los Angeles school officials plan to postpone a bid to raise revenue through a parcel tax, with a formal decision expected next week, Supt. John Deasy announced Tuesday.

Deasy’s remarks, made at a school board meeting, were the first official acknowledgment that the nation’s second-largest school system would backtrack from its intent to pass a tax measure in November.

L.A. Unified faces deep budget cuts that could result in thousands of layoffs, increased class sizes and sharp reductions in arts programs, counseling, school maintenance and other services.

The November presidential ballot is expected to bring out a large, more tax-friendly electorate, but a local parcel tax also would face competition for voter sympathy, including from heavily promoted statewide measures backed by Gov. Jerry Brown. And, to date, no L.A. Unified campaign has been organized.

“We run a risk of having too many measures before the public,” Deasy said in a statement.

Brown’s measure also would help schools, but would not resolve the financial stress at L.A. Unified and many other school systems.

The L.A. Unified measure would place a levy of $298 per parcel on property owners within district boundaries. It would generate $255 million per year for five years beginning in 2013-14. District homeowners already pay substantial annual levies to pay off bonds designated for the school system’s massive construction program.

A parcel tax requires a two-thirds majority, which has been difficult to achieve in school systems that serve substantial numbers of low-income families. In June 2010, 53% of L.A. district voters favored a parcel tax, well short of the required plurality.

The Board of Education must formally approve postponing the parcel tax, a vote that will be scheduled for next week, said a district spokesman.

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-- Howard Blume

Photo: Los Angeles Schools Superintendent John Deasy speaks during a school district board meeting in February. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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