The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo County Times and is being reprinted with permission.
SAN MATEO — Voters would be inclined to support possible parcel tax or construction bond measures to offset budget problems at the San Mateo County Community College District, according to a recent survey.
“It appears to be pretty good numbers in terms of support for both,” district board Vice President Dave Mandelkern said Monday. “It’s encouraging to see that the public still seems to be supportive of education spending.”
The board is expected to continue to study pursuing a tax or bond measure this year as well as potential budget cuts during its Feb. 10 meeting.
The board appears to be leaning toward a parcel tax over a bond, district spokeswoman Barbara Christensen said. Funds from a parcel tax would help cover day-to-day operations, while bond money can only be spent on building improvements, Christensen said.
According to the district-commissioned survey, 78 percent of San Mateo County residents would support a $19 annual parcel tax, while 67 percent would go for a $48 tax. A parcel-tax measure requires a two-thirds vote for approval.
The survey showed that more than 60 percent of people would pass a $383 million bond measure on either the June or November ballot. A bond measures requires a 55 percent majority.
The district is currently bracing for cuts of $7 million to $10 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year, Christensen said. Cost-cutting measures could include the sale of public-broadcasting station KCSM-TV at the College of San Mateo and closures of the district’s Coastside campus and the Child Development Center at Skyline College in San Bruno.
The district already slashed $7.5 million in the current fiscal year, dropping courses with low enrollment and taking other measures. No full-time teachers have been laid off yet, officials said, but the district has not been offering jobs to part-time instructors as course sections are eliminated.
Meanwhile, faculty, staff and students at College of San Mateo, Skyline and Cañada College in Redwood City plan a “teach-in” Wednesday and Thursday to protest and raise community awareness of the cuts the schools have endured and still face.
The two-day event features panel discussions about the fiscal crisis and other activities.
“The budget cuts are having a drastic impact on the community colleges and higher education,” said Robert Ovetz, a teach-in organizer and adjunct professor at Cañada. “We are seeing massive cuts to basic-skills and English as a Second Language classes and counseling services that have affected the quality of our community colleges.”