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January 24, 2012 > New Haven Unified update

New Haven Unified update

Submitted By Rick La Plante

The Board of Education on January 17 received the results of a survey asking voter opinion regarding a possible ballot measure that would raise approximately $3 million through a parcel tax.

Among 300 registered voters polled January 3 - 8, by the EMC Research Group, 65 percent say they would vote to approve or would lean toward voting to approve a $180 per year tax for four years, compared to 30 percent who say they would vote to oppose or would lean toward opposing the tax. The remaining 5 percent said they were undecided.

When respondents heard arguments in favor of the tax, support increased to 71 percent; however, after respondents heard arguments against the tax, support returned to the 65 percent level.

The research group recommended that the District consider placing the measure on the June primary ballot, rather than calling for a special election in May.

Other key findings:
More than two-thirds of voters are aware of the District's need for money;
More than three-fourths of voters agree that maintaining quality schools should be a top priority, even if it means raising taxes;
Voters rate the District positively in some areas, but there is room for improvement in perception of the quality of schools and academic achievement;
Core academics, teachers and preparing students for college and jobs are the voters' highest priorities;
Messages about core academics and keeping all revenue local are very compelling;
Reaching two-thirds support for a parcel tax measure will require solidifying "soft yes" voters.

Survey findings were presented to the Board immediately after a presentation from Chief Business Officer Akur Varadarajan, who returned earlier in the day from Sacramento, where school officials were told to expect another round of budget cuts for the 2012-13 school year. Mr. Varadarajan told the Board that the District must plan for a cut of $370 per students - approximately $4.6 million.

Also, the Board welcomed new member Michael Ritchie, who was sworn in after being appointed in November to fill a vacancy created upon the resignation of member Kevin Harper, who is moving out of the District. Mr. Ritchie will serve the remaining 11 months of the term; the seat is one of three that will be at stake in the November election.

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