PALMDALE — Palmdale School District’s Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday in support of a November ballot initiative that seeks to reclaim an estimated $12 billion for schools and communities by closing a loophole in the state’s property tax system.
The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act would close a loophole in the 42-year-old Proposition 13 by requiring all commercial and industrial properties to be assessed at fair market value. The initiative exempts all residential property.
The initiative, which qualified for the Nov. 3 ballot, is supported by Schools and Communities First, a statewide coalition of approximately 300 organizations that include education and small business groups.
The California Teachers Association was part of the initial Schools and Communities First coalition, but it pulled out because it did not like the initial initiative. The CTA has since returned to the coalition.
“We have been pretty vocal that the initiative that is on the ballot in November needs to be changed,” Kathy Vanderzee, a former Palmdale School District teacher who now works with the California Teachers Association, said at the Jan. 28 meeting of the Antelope Valley School Boards Association.
Vanderzee added the changes that need to be made have to include greater protections for small business owners, a clear exemption for agricultural properties, and a clear understanding that it will not impact residential properties.
As such, the CTA Is collecting signatures to clarify the language. About 40% of the estimated $12 billion the initiative would raise if it is successful would go to schools, while the remaining 60% would go to community organizations.
“Why does it say schools and communities if schools aren’t getting the bulk of the money?” Vanderzee said. “We’re all educators, and we know whatever happens in our community happens in our classroom. If we need additional resources in the community to help assist our classrooms, we will benefit.”