A recent public opinion survey indicates that, despite facing a two thirds threshold for passage, voter support for public education is deep enough for the San Diego Unified School District’s proposed parcel tax to win at the ballot box in November.
The polling firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates conducted a telephone survey (June 20-22, 2010) of 400 voters in the San Diego District who are likely to vote in the November 2010 General Election. The survey showed that 81% of the respondents recognize that the school district has a great or some need for additional funding. This figure has increased seven percent, from 74 to 81 percent, in less than a year.
Voters considered the insertion of the ballot provision that “Sacramento cannot take the funds away” to be extremely or very important by a similar margin. A super majority of voters (more than two-thirds) identified an additional four provisions that rated as extremely or very important:
- Ensuring funds can only be used for classrooms (75 percent)
- Preventing cuts to essential academic programs (73 percent)
- Preventing massive teacher layoffs (72 percent)
- Preventing math, science and English teacher layoffs (72 percent)
Respondents perceiving that the school district had little or no need for additional funding added up to 13% in the poll, a decline of 4% from a similar effort made in October, 2009.
This number indicates that the opposition to the measure is largely confined to voters who wouldn’t vote for a tax increase under any circumstances. They’d probably be writing letters to the Union-Tribune bitterly attacking the district even if Jesus and Ronald Reagan came down from heaven and announced their support of the parcel tax.
The polling numbers indicate that the proposed tax, which would cost private home owners an additional $8 a month, and is limited to a five year term, won’t have a cakewalk come November. The base number of voters supporting the tax starts out at 59% in the survey, but increases to 70% after learning about the specifics of the measure.
The poll was commissioned by the district prior to a July vote by the School Board which placed the measure on the November ballot. A move to remove the Parcel Tax from the ballot, initiated by city politicians, failed after School Board President Richard Barrera heard from angry parents, fearing that removal of the Parcel Tax would lead to further increases and classroom size and cancellation of many popular programs.