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High School Students Work As Campaign Volunteers

Students at San Leandro High have campaigned for Measure L, the $39 parcel tax that would raise money for local schools but requires a two-thirds vote to pass.

 

While their parents have been watching political ads on television, dozens of San Leandro High School students have been working on a campaign of great personal interest -- passage of the Measure L parcel tax that would raise $2.4 million for local education.

Over the last six weeks upwards of 400 volunteers have staffed a telephone bank that has dialed an estimated 24,000 likely voters.

About 60 percent of those volunteers have been students, say organizers on the Yes on Measure L campaign.

If Measure L passes it would cost each single family homeowner $39 per year. (Read more about the proposed tax, its unanimous support from the school board, and its endorsement by the Chamber of Commerce and city leaders.)

But Measure L faces a hurdle that offers today's high schoolers a lesson in election history. Ever since the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, local tax initiatives have required a two-thirds vote to pass.

"I'm a believer but that's such a huge number," said Deborah Cox, coordinator of the Yes on L campaign.

Enter the student volunteers to drum up support by phone.

Last Thursday night they included seniors Edwin Monterrosa and Eduardo Guerrero, who were making their second volunteer appearance.

"We do notice the budget cuts around the schools," Monterrosa said.

Juniors Caitlin Jung and Naomi Lindsey were getting their first taste of trying to reach people at home in the evenings.

"This is hard," Jung said. "Not everybody is nice."

Adults have made their contributions to the Yes on L effort.

Teachers have been especially supportive, donating the largest part of the more than $60,000 that the campaign has raised. They have also staffed the phones. Thursday night, for instance, the volunteer callers included Yvonne Islas, an English and Spanish teacher at John Muir Middle School.

Other volunteers on phone duty Thursday night included Chris Crow, a candidate for city council; Jason Toro, who will be joining the school board; and school superintendent Cindy Cathey, who knows it will be tough to run the district without funds from Measure L and from Governor Jerry Brown's proposed Prop 30 tax increases.

Soon it will be up to voters.

Cox noted that one additional hurdle faces Measure L -- it comes at the end of a long ballot, after the national, state and county races.

If she had her druthers voters would cast their ballots from back to front, before electoral fatigue sets in.

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Stephen Cassidy November 05, 2012 at 03:36 PM
I encourage everyone to support Measure L. Our schools have experienced devastating budget cuts for the last four years. Parcel taxes, like Measure L, are the only means for local school districts to raise funds to pay for operating expenses. The money raised will stay in San Leandro and cannot be taken away by Sacramento. We know that despite the state fiscal crisis there are many high performing school districts in the Bay Area – where families move to, local business thrives, and neighborhoods are safe. These school districts are by and large found in communities that have adopted parcel taxes for their schools. Everything – schools, home values, the local economy, and public safety - is linked together.
Barry Kane November 06, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Great job to the student volunteers. I got a call from you and I agreed to support YES on L. Thank your for working for what you believe in and for supporting your school, your city and your fellow students!
Fred Eiger November 06, 2012 at 03:43 AM
At least they're showing initiative.
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