Scramento Mayor-Elect Darrell Steinberg joined school officials and educators Tuesday to urge voters to approve a parcel tax for Sacramento schools, saying that music and the arts have not recovered since 1978 when voters forced an overhaul in state education funding by limiting property taxes.
Steinberg and a battery of Sacramento City Unified School District officials, board members, teachers union members and music instructors urged support Tuesday for Measure G on the November ballot. If approved by two-thirds of voters, Measure G would impose a $75 tax per year on each parcel within the district’s boundaries starting July 1, 2017.
The measure would generate $6 million to $7 million a year for six years. It calls for a broad range of uses aimed at the “whole child,” including counseling, tutoring, mentoring, arts, music education and access to diverse support staff. Among the goals, backers said, would be providing professional support for teachers and social and emotional learning at schools.
“Show me a kid who is thriving and more times than not that kid will have benefited from some extracurricular activity involving arts, music or sports,” Steinberg told listeners at Father Keith B. Kenny K-8 school in Oak Park. “We cut these programs in a devastating way in the great recession. In fact, we cut them long before that,” he said.
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“I graduated from high school in 1977, the year before Proposition 13 passed,” he said in reference to the initiative that passed overwhelmingly in 1978. “The arts and sports and music have not been the same.”
Last week, in a meeting with the Sacramento City Teachers Association, Steinberg signaled that he will become a force in public education when he is expected mayor, vowing to become the “education mayor.” In December, Steinberg will replace Mayor Kevin Johnson, who has had a tense relationship with the teachers union.
Jessie Ryan, the trustee who chaired the district’s three-person committee to explore the parcel tax, said she came from a low-income family.
“My life was often very hopeless. And it was truly music and arts programing that kept me on track, that saved my life in many ways,” Ryan said.
Measure G is opposed by the Sacramento Taxpayers Association, which wrote the ballot argument against it. The group says that Sacramento City Unified suffers from a management problem rather than a lack of resources and that the measure does not identify specific projects at campuses. The group also noted that voters already approved two bond measures in 2012 that authorized $414 million for school construction.