Teachers and students of the Peralta Community College District have accused the district of spending voter-approved parcel tax funds on salaries and benefits for librarians, counselors and other classified staff over the past three years.
Measure B, approved by 72 percent of voters in June 2012, imposed a $48 annual parcel tax for eight years to fund the community college district. The measure was expected to raise $8 million annually.
Voters were asked the following question on their ballots:
“To provide College of Alameda, Laney College, Merritt College and Berkeley City College secure funds that cannot be taken by the state, and support affordable college education including: providing core academic programs including math, science and English; training students for successful careers; and educating students to transfer to university; shall Peralta Community College District levy $48 per parcel annually for 8 years with Citizens’ Oversight, no funds for administrators’ salaries, and all funds spent in our college district?”
The Peralta Federation of Teachers and the chair of the measure’s oversight committee, along with district records, show that since 2015 the money has largely gone to salaries for non-instructional employees normally paid out of the district’s general fund. In the past three years, taxpayer money seems to have paid for only one electrical engineering course taught in the summer of 2016, costing the district $4,288.
Audits of the measure said the money has been spent appropriately since it “did not go to the district office or pay administrators.”
But Michael Mills, chair of the oversight committee, disagrees. “I scanned all 16 pages for hints on classroom expenditures related to the ballot language,” Mills said, referring to the district’s report. “If it’s there, it’s well-hidden.” (Source: East Bay Times, May 9.)