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Capitola Council Supports Extra School Funding

Would you vote for a parcel tax to fund local elementary school teachers' salaries?

After gaining some assurances, Capitola City Council members voted unanimously Thursday to support Measure S, a $90-per year parcel tax for eight years for the Soquel Union Elementary School District, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

District Superintendent Henry Castaniada said $500,000 of the funds would be used to hire 10 teachers and return to smaller class sizes. Another $150,000 would be used to pay for library specialists and technology assistants.

Class sizes reportedly have ballooned from 21 students to 32 students in the past five years since the State cut district funding by $1.3 million, according to City Council members.

Measure S now goes to the public. Ballots were sent out to 16,000 residents earlier this week and must be returned by mail by May 7. It requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

There had been some concern over how the money would be spent and Councilman Sam Storey asked that that the City Council be given a seat on the parcel tax oversight committee. Castaniada said he was open to that idea.

School district officials are hoping to give their students a better start in the classroom. Councilman Dennis Norton reportedly said the district must be doing something right since the local high school graduation rate is 90 percent. Aptos High School was named a California Distinguished School.

The district operates four schools: Soquel Elementary School and Main Street School in Soquel, Santa Cruz Gardens School and New Brighton Middle School in Capitola.

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