First approved in 2008, the parcel tax – coupled with an additional tax voters approved in 2012 – accounts for approximately 25 percent of the budget for the six schools within the Mill Valley School District.

Members of the Mill Valley School District Board, from left: Marco Pardi, Robin Moses, Todd May, Leslie Wachtel, Bob Jacobs. Courtesy image.

Eight years ago, on the eve of a multi-year enrollment boom and facing a rapidly shifting, unstable statewide education funding landscape, Mill Valley School District officials decided it was time to try and seize some local control for its schools.

To do so, the district sought voters’ approval of an expanded parcel tax of $731 per year (with a 5 percent annual increase) over eight years, and the so-called Measure A received the necessary two-thirds approval on the ballot. The parcel tax has provided a degree of security ever since, accounting for around 20 percent of the budget for the six schools within the Mill Valley School District: Edna Maguire, Old Mill, Park, Strawberry Point and Tam Valley Valley elementary schools and Mill Valley Middle School.

Much has changed since the passage of Measure A, with the district’s enrollment spiking from 2,288 in 2006 to nearly 3,200 in 2016 – a 40 percent jump. The state’s educational funding structured changed in 2013, when Governor Jerry Brown signing into law the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), giving school districts more authority over how the money will be spent. As part of that shift, the Mill Valley School District switched from being a “Community Funded District” (formerly known as a “basic aid district”) to a Local Control-Funded Formula district because the per-student funding provided by the state exceeded property tax revenues, for which the district drew the bulk of its annual revenue.

Despite that shift, district officials says locally controlled educational funds are more important than ever, and now it’s time to convince voters to renew that parcel tax, affirming the argument that locally based funding is critical to maintaining district’s top-notch educational standards.

Measure E, which will be on the November 8th ballot, seeks a renewal of the $981 parcel tax (the initial $731 plus 5 percent annual increases over eight years) for the next 12 years, with a 5 percent annual increase to match the projected annual rise in educational costs, according to ‘Renew for Mill Valley Schools – Yes on Measure E’ campaign officials.

The renewed tax would generate an estimated $9 million per year, and campaign officials emphasize that parcel tax revenue “is not subject to state budget cuts or changes in the economy, and stays in our district to benefit our six schools.”
“Without Measure E, deep cuts would be required, and could include teacher layoffs, class size increases and closure of school libraries,” Renew for Mill Valley Schools campaign officials say.

Like Measure A in 2008, the parcel tax renewal requires at two-thirds support from voters, a high hurdle considering that 75 percent of district voters don’t have a student in one of the district’s six schools. Seniors can apply for an exemption from the parcel tax.

Luckily for Measure E campaign officials, they have practice in clearing that high hurdle. In 2012, the district was faced with stagnant property tax revenue, continued enrollment growth and funding “take backs” from the state, and decided to go to the voters with a $196 per year secondary parcel tax on the top of the then-$731 per year parcel tax.

In making their case for the additional parcel tax, the Measure B campaign leaned heavily on a “shared solutions/sacrifices” strategy, touting renegotiated contracts with the Mill Valley Teachers Association and other district employee groups, as well as increased financial commitments from both the Mill Valley Council of PTAs and Kiddo!, the local private educational foundation that supported arts education in Mill Valley for three decades and has expanded that support to also include technology and physical education with an annual contribution of nearly $3 million. Voters approved the additional parcel tax in 2012 and it runs through through 2020, accounting for approximately 4.5 percent of the district’s annual budget. Seniors were able to apply for exemption to that parcel tax as well.

The 411: Go here to learn more about Measure E. You can register to vote here or by calling the Marin County Registrar of Voters at (415) 473-6456. Visit for more information about voting.

Want to know what’s happening around town? Click here to subscribe to the Enjoy Mill Valley Blog by Email!