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No Decision Yet on Tax for Schools

The Hermosa Beach school board edges closer to pushing for a possible tax in town, but refrains from making any final decision.

Among contract approvals and funding appropriations, the ’s school board in a meeting Wednesday night grappled over one fundamental issue that would affect all Hermosa Beach residents: a possible tax.

The money is needed to raise about $1.7 million for the school district that, similar to other public schools nationwide, has faced tough economic times.

While a remains another possibility to secure the school’s financial health, the board has focused on a possible tax, either as .

And according to an , 51 percent of Hermosa Beach Patch readers support a tax increase to maintain the quality of Hermosa View and valley schools.

The school board Wednesday voted 4-1, with board member Lisa Claypoole dissenting, to further examine the possibilities.

So far, the board has considered conducting a survey to measure how Hermosa Beach residents without children would respond to a possible tax increase.

"I fear folks don’t have a clue what we’re talking about," said school board President Cathy McCurdy. "I think the community should be aware that we’re in worse shape than before the last parcel tax measure."

A parcel tax, which requires a two-thirds vote to pass, was presented to residents a couple of years ago and before in the 1990s. Voters didn’t pass them.

"There are still hurt feelings. I’m not ready to go there yet as a board member, so I’m not ready to support a parcel tax solution," Claypoole said while remembering the board’s previous parcel tax attempt.

But McCurdy said that Hermosa residents seemed in favor of a sales tax because it would tax non-residents who visit bars downtown, while locals would pay the parcel tax.

Board members Ray Waters and McCurdy said they would sit down with Superintendent Bruce Newlin and members of the board’s to review proposals from survey and public relations companies on how to gauge the community.

The team would then present the recommendations to the board at its next meeting.

They also plan to work with community organizations like the Hermosa Beach Education Foundation and the California Teachers Association to see if a survey could be done for free.

A professional survey firm could cost up to $15,000.

"The board only has the ability to finance a survey or poll, but not get involved in campaign coordination," McCurdy said Wednesday about the need to campaign for a tax if the board decides to pursue one.

Steve Lessinger, a member of the parcel tax subcommittee, replied that though it’s a "fine line," other school boards have hired companies that will conduct a survey and run campaigns for ballot or bond measures.

Whatever the board decides, member Carleen Beste said that it should move forward soon.

"If you’re going to do an election sometime in the spring [for a tax] and you have to file to be on the ballot… we need to make decisions to get the ball rolling," she said.

Do you support a tax to raise money for Hermosa schools? Tell us in the comments.

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