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PTA Backs Local Ballot Measures

By Jorge Casuso

October 15 -- A $135 million college bond and an initiative to boost Santa Monica's bed tax have received the backing of the the Santa Monica-Malibu PTA Council, which hopes to tout its endorsements in 60,000 mailers to area voters.

The group -- comprised of district PTA presidents, council officers, committee chairs and liaisons -- will publicize its positions on both measures in its upcoming "Report Card to the Community," a semi-annual newsletter that will be inserted in newspapers and distributed to local institutions, PTA officials said.

"We don't walk precincts or raise money," said Rebecca Kennerly, who chairs the PTA Council Communications Committee. The newsletter "is more in line with what the PTA does and is mandated" to do.

During the past several years, the PTA has thrown its weight behind two parcel tax increases to help fund the local School District, and it was instrumental in a recent signature gathering drive that pressured the City Council to boost funding to local schools to a minimum of $6 million a year.

Both Measure S (which would provide funds to buy land for playing fields and renovate college facilities) and Proposition N (which would increase the tax paid by hotel guests in Santa Monica) would benefit education, PTA officials said.

"Both measures will provide critical support to students and youth throughout our communities," said PTA Council President Maria Rodriguez.

The bed tax increase would help bankroll the boost in City funding for local schools and produce a steady revenue stream for early childhood development and after school programs, PTA officials said.

"There's an educational component to Measure N," Kennerly said. "There is a connection between the (school) funding agreement and additional revenues (from increased bed taxes) to support the schools. The additional revenues were clearly connected to educational needs, as well as benefiting children."

The college bond also would benefit youngsters by making new playing fields available to the community's youth during afternoons and weekends through partnership agreements with the two cities, Kennerly said.

"The college bond measure obviously has an educational component," she said. "The partnership aspect will intend to have some real applications for younger children in the parks and open space aspect of it."

As a nonpartisan organization, the PTA cannot endorse candidates. But it has long played a key role in local campaigns for bonds and ballot measures that benefit public education.

PTA officials are confident both measures will pass.

"We really feel that based on what we're seeing, we're hopeful that they have a pretty good shot," Kennerly said





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