Voters face tough choice: pay up or shutdown

Carolyn Jones:

Alameda voters embark today on a monthlong, mail-only election to decide whether taxes will be raised to support public schools. Both sides describe the outcome as Armageddon for the quiet island city.
Measure E is a parcel tax that would give Alameda some of the highest school taxes in the Bay Area: Homeowners would pay $659 a year and business owners would owe up to $9,500 annually per parcel.
If it passes, many small business owners, already struggling with the recession, say they’ll be forced to close, stripping Alameda of its mom-and-pop charm. If the measure fails, the district’s superintendent warns that half the schools in town would close.
“If this doesn’t pass, all bets are off in Alameda,” said Encinal High School Principal Mike Cooper, a fifth-generation Alamedan. “We’re watching the collapse of public education. We’ve been trying to make this work, but something’s got to give.”