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Email on Props 30 and 38 upsets some Roseville City School District parents

Superintendent: District’s intent to provide clarification on propositions
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Roseville City School District recently emailed out a two-page document about Propositions 30 and 38 in response to numerous calls from confused parents. But some other parents are concerned that the email is an inappropriate attempt to persuade them how to vote.

One parent of two children at Catheryn Gates Elementary School, who asked to remain anonymous, questioned the appropriateness of a public school district using their parent email list to send a message she felt was “for political gain.”

The district’s Superintendent Richard Pierucci said the email was sent to provide clarification on two education-related measures on the Nov. 6 ballot, as requested by many other parents. The email was sent Oct. 23 using the district’s automated messenger system. The document is also posted on the district’s website.

Pierucci said his office has fielded several calls from parents seeking clarification on how the propositions would impact the local district. Staff has also presented on the issue during some Parent Teacher Council meetings.

“We felt we needed to put out a factual information sheet and chart,” he said.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission regulates campaign communications by governmental agencies through the Political Reform Act. The act prohibits the mass mailing of campaign materials by a governmental agency, but this only applies to tangible items and not to emails, according to Brian Lau of the FPPC.

The email sent out by the Roseville district may not be classified as campaign material if it is informational.

“Because the distinction between campaign materials and informational materials is small, we can make this determination only after a thorough review of the actual emails and all factual circumstances surrounding the emails,” Lau said in an email to the Press Tribune.

On Aug. 16, the district’s school board passed a resolution supporting Proposition 30. Gov. Jerry Brown’s measure would raise revenue for public schools by increasing the sales tax by one-quarter of one cent for four years. It would also raise income taxes for seven years on income earners above $250,000.

If the measure fails, the district would face automatic trigger cuts of $4 million. According to the district, Roseville City School District has lost about $18 million in funding over the past five years. The district has also shortened the school year, increased class sizes and reduced support services.

The document also states that voting no on Proposition 38 “would not impact current programs or day to day operations of Roseville City Schools.” If passed, Proposition 38 would raise revenue by increasing income taxes for 12 years on a sliding scale.