On Wednesday, Evolve headed to the Portola Valley school board meeting to make the case for our resolution calling for Prop 13 reform. For those not familiar with Portola Valley, it's a spectacularly beautiful place just down the road from Palo Alto and Menlo Park. We were awed by how quickly the scenery transformed from the busyness of downtown Palo Alto to the unadulterated, gorgeous natural vistas that surround kids and teachers at the Corte Madera School every day. After an afternoon spent canvassing on University Avenue, I joined Evolve organizers Ian Fregosi and Kelly Osajima to speak in favor of reform and providing a stronger long-term funding source for California's schools.
Kelly delivered Evolve's message to the board, highlighting the damage Prop 13 has done to education in California over its 3-and-a-half decade lifespan. As it happens, we were in a district that makes many of our arguments for us. We think state funding isn't enough and Portola Valley seems to agree, considering the nearly $600 in parcel taxes they pay every year. We contend public education is decreasingly public, given how many districts rely on private philanthropic support to maintain programs like art and PE. The Portola Valley board acknowledged how thankful they were that Silicon Valley foundations had stepped in to enable them to continue to provide exactly those opportunities. In the end, the school board saw the issue the way we did, passing the resolution without even a word of dissent. (There was so little fanfare that we initially didn't even realize the measure had passed!)
As we continue to work towards 100 school board and city council resolutions in favor of fair taxation of commercial property, every district is another big step. We thank the Portola Valley school board for setting an example for the rest of the state and for helping to put California's education system on surer footing for years to come.