As a high school senior in Irvine, Bernard Shih won't be affected at all by the outcome of Tuesday's vote on a parcel tax, which the district says it needs to fund arts, music and science programs next year.
But that didn't stop the 18-year-old from campaigning for the tax anyway, and on Saturday he and hundreds of classmates fanned across the city's shopping centers with fliers aimed at securing yes votes.
Shih's biggest motivation? Younger brother James, who starts high school this fall.
"A lot of teachers that I had (already) got pink slips," Shih said, adding that James and other younger students should benefit from the same education he had. "I don't want them to be gone when my brother gets in."
Irvine Unified School District officials hope the $95 parcel tax will raise about $3 million to help cover a $4-million budget deficit. Should voters reject the tax as they did in November, trustees would be forced to cut the district's enriched arts, music and science programs, increase class sizes and reduce the number of nurses, librarians and counselors.
About 136 teachers also would lose their jobs, according to school officials. Many have already been given notice that they would be laid off by May 15 if the parcel tax fails.
Kate McInerney, 18, donned her red and white cheerleading uniform for Saturday's campaign effort, which she also joined for the sake of a younger sibling. The Woodbridge High School senior said she wanted to keep programs and teachers in place for future classes, including those of her brother, Mitch, a seventh-grader at Lakeside Middle School.
"I'm graduating, but he's still going to be in school," McInerney said.
McInerney's mother, Carolyn, passed out pamphlets at Woodbridge Village Shopping Center, explaining to anyone who would listen just how the parcel tax would benefit Irvine's schools.
"We're up against the wall and we're trying to save our schools," she said.
Resident Don Tillinghast said he planned to vote in support of the measure and pay the tax--despite being eligible for an exemption given to voters 65 or older. His grandson will start school in Irvine in two years, Tillinghast said.
"He'd better start in Irvine or we're gonna lynch his parents," he joked. "They better not move."
Tax opponents, who raised about $1,500 to the supporters' $85,600, also distributed fliers Saturday.
Supporters will hold a rally at Crossroads Shopping Center on Barranca Parkway from noon to 2 p.m. today. A public debate will then be held at the Woodbridge Village Assn., 31 Creek Road, from 7 to 9 p.m.