By Tamra Taylor
As 2016 begins, the Live Oak School District is humming with excitement and learning. We continue to pursue our mission to prepare our students to make meaningful contributions to the world through our academically rigorous curriculum and collaborative, innovative learning environments.
We are grateful for the generous support our community provides through local funding. The Live Oak School District Quality Education Measure (parcel tax) funding, which our community overwhelmingly approved in 2008, ensures that we can keep our school libraries open, maintain our music and art programs, continue our reading and math tutoring programs, protect small class sizes, and keep our students safe through afterschool programs. This funding solely benefits Live Oak schools and cannot be taken by the state. It has made a big difference in the quality of the educational program the Live Oak School District provides students, but it is set to expire.
As a result of the Live Oak Community’s support of the Quality Education Measure (parcel tax) our students in elementary school receive tutoring before they fall behind in their grade level work. Children who need this additional learning support can be seen working in small groups getting extra practice in literacy and mathematics each day. This is very important because we know that once a student falls behind more than one grade level it is very difficult to close the resulting achievement gap.
If you ask Live Oak School District students if he/she likes to read they will excitedly tell you about the book they are currently reading and their reading goals. This enthusiasm is in part a result of our district reading incentive program. This program relies heavily upon our dedicated Library Media Specialists, who motivate students to read by helping them find books that interest them and are at their reading level. The Quality Education Measure (parcel tax) helps fund these library positions at each of our school sites.
The Quality Education Measure (parcel tax) allows us to enrich our students’ educational experiences to include music and art education at each of our school sites. Our music program is renowned throughout the county for its quality. You may have had the chance to hear our students perform at one of our school programs or at one of the many community events throughout Santa Cruz. Without fail, when Shoreline Middle School Band performs, the crowd leaves amazed by our students’ skill, ability and joy for performing!
The Quality Education Measure (parcel tax) also funds our elementary school science and nutrition gardens. Students learn basic ecological concepts through gardening. They plant and nurture seeds into plants which are later harvested and served in our cafeteria. These garden activities are linked to science lessons in the classroom.
We know that students learn science best when they can apply ecological and nutritional concepts to the real world as they are able to do in our school gardens.
Finally, the Quality Education Measure (parcel tax) helps the Live Oak School District fund after school programs, which are an important link to student safety in our community. We know that the hours immediately following school dismissal are very important for student safety and keeping students engaged in productive activities during this time means that we are keeping them safe. If visiting our schools after hours, you will see students receiving additional tutoring, playing organized sports games, learning to use technology for a project, developing social skills, and taking classes in areas of interest.
To continue to support our students and meet our academic goals, the Live Oak School District Governing Board is considering placing a measure on the ballot this year that would renew the District’s $84 annual parcel tax upon its expiration for an additional 12 years and increase it by $14 to the rate of $98 annually. This funding would help protect math, science, reading and writing programs, maintain hands-on science classes like Life Lab, support after-school programs to keep our children safe, and attract and retain qualified teachers.
Strict fiscal accountability provisions would also continue to ensure that funds could only be spent on voter-approved purposes — all funds would benefit Live Oak schools and could not be taken by the state, no funds could be used for administrator salaries and an independent Oversight Committee would continue to verify that funds are used properly. It is also important to note that senior citizens may apply for an exemption from this tax.
We value the input of the Live Oak community when making important decisions about our schools. To learn more, please visit www.losd-ca.schoolloop.com/Tax