Pleasanton residents set to decide on $395 million back-to-school measure in November ballot | New
The Pleasanton School Board is placing a $395 million general obligation measure on the November 8 general election ballot following a unanimous vote last week.
The bond would help fund the first phase of the facilities master plan, which was approved by the board on June 23.
“I view the decision to move forward with this bond action as one of the most critical, consequential and important decisions of my tenure on the board,” said the vice chairman of the board. , Steve Maher, during the meeting last Thursday. “For me, not to vote in favor of this obligation would be fiscally and morally irresponsible.”
He said failure to support the link will deny current and future students in the Pleasanton Unified School District the opportunity to learn in modernized and up-to-date facilities, just like other districts in the Tri-Valley.
“We have, to put it bluntly, inferior gyms,” Maher said. “There are no performing arts centers for our fantastic musicians and comedians. In fact, a relative told me today that they went to the high school campus in Dublin and lo and behold, from fine performing arts.”
Residents of Pleasanton last voted in 2016 to pass a facilities bond, Measure I1 of $270 million, which covered approximately one-third of identified facility improvement needs of $856 million. dollars. Since Measure I1 was passed and another mandatory measure failed in 2020, PUSD staff have been working on an updated facilities master plan that would separate facility improvements from the 15 school sites into one two-tier system to address high priority areas first.
Tier 1 will prioritize funding for construction of gymnasiums and theaters at Amador Valley and Foothill High Schools, as well as new classrooms at Vintage Hills Elementary. The second part will focus on deferred maintenance, the restructuring of visual performing arts in high schools, the cafeteria and air conditioning and heating equipment.
The bond approved Nov. 8 will use a tax rate of $49 per $100,000 of assessed value for Pleasanton property owners to fund this first round of projects. According to district staff, the second tier would be funded by funds from the State Office for Public School Construction, the sale of the district office, state or local funding, or money saved on d other construction offers.
Although the requirement received unanimous approval, several concerns arose during Thursday’s meeting, such as administrator Kelly Mokashi bringing up the promise of a 10th grade school in Measure I1. She said her main question was how the council would rebuild trust with voters after the project was scrapped.
“It needs to be resolved because voters will ask about it and we need to have a solid answer to that,” Mokashi said.
Council Chairman Mark Miller addressed the subject saying he thinks it’s a cop to suggest the district can’t spend money wisely because it hasn’t built a 10th primary school.
“This district had an I1 measurement and spent the I1 money with the greatest integrity possible,” Miller said. “We honored all the promises we made, including the promise not to spend the $35 million on an elementary school if we decided not to go ahead; that’s the promise we made. .”
He said declining enrollment and additional construction costs added to the decision not to go ahead with a 10th grade school, a decision he said was the right thing to do.
“No rational person would make the decision at this point to spend $48 (million) or $60 million to build a new elementary school when we already have far fewer students in the 700s per elementary school when we do our rezoning. “said Miller.
Another concern that Mokashi and a few public commentators spoke about was that the Amador Theater reconstruction project should have been reconsidered to be renovated rather than completely demolished.
Former student trustee Saachi Bhayani said in a public comment that the board should renovate the historic theater rather than spend money to completely rebuild the theatre.
She added that when the council attempted to pass the $323 million Measure M bond in the March 2020 primary election, the district was cited for $5 million for rebuilding the theater and now that it is a much higher cost, the plan should also change. Measure M won the support of the majority of voters but failed to pass the 55% threshold required for school bonding measures.
“The construction escalations don’t justify a sevenfold increase, so why not just renovate it and save taxpayers’ money,” Bhayani said. “Due to the coming recession and rising construction costs, I think it’s best that we make sure we reduce the cost to our ratepayers to ensure that this obligation is passed.”
Miller said it’s possible the council might later decide to renovate the Amador Theater rather than rebuild it due to the fact that it’s one of several scenarios planned by the district.
Bhayani also spoke about the Amador Gymnasium, which several public commentators have raised concerns about deteriorating during the facilities masterplan discussion in recent months.
Jaiden Reilly, a recent Amador graduate and volleyball player, said her season was postponed due to the pandemic and forced the team to play in the rainy season, which was a problem due cracks in the roof that let water into the gymnasium.
“It got really dangerous,” Reilly said. “We had to take frequent breaks and breaks during games played at other schools. We had a lot of falls, a lot of rolled ankles.”
Bhayani added to Mokashi’s earlier feeling that voters didn’t trust the district by saying the council should have invested in the gymnasium a long time ago.
Administrator Joan Laursen commented on Amador Gymnasium saying it was supposed to be included in Measure I1 but was removed because the board was uncertain whether or not the bond would pass.
Kathleen Ruegsegger, a former trustee on the board in the 1990s, also voiced general concerns about the connection not only to the rebuilding of the theater and the promised primary school, but also how she thought the Issuance of the link was rushed. .
“You vote on this bond about two weeks before it’s due to the county,” Ruegsegger said. “You are voting while the parents are enjoying their summer and probably not paying attention to your actions.”
She said the district should build the promised elementary school and use smaller bonds to address high school gymnasiums before asking voters to trust the board again with another bond.
However, Miller and the rest of the board have always shown overall support for the link and all have said it is important to invest in these improvements for the good of students.
“We have only adopted one bond measure in 25 years and I know that we are living in very difficult times right now,” said trustee Mary Jo Carreon. “There are a lot of things we can’t control. We can’t control COVID, we can’t control politics. But you know what we can control? We can control what’s happening in our city. We can make a difference in the lives of our students by working together and passing on this connection.”
District staff must now submit the resolution to the office of the Alameda County Registrar of Electors and Clerk of the Board of Supervisors on August 12. Following this, staff plan to develop an implementation plan that will go into more detail about the project and construction. management as well as other planning regarding the phasing of the facility master plan.
The list of bond projects includes: building elementary classrooms to support the statewide expansion of transitional kindergarten; secondary school visual and performing arts centres; new and improved sports facilities; updated plumbing to support potable water; and improving the site for students with disabilities.
Following the reassessment of two Tier 1 projects, funding for transitional kindergarten classes at Donlon and Fairlands elementary schools will be included in Measure I1.
Other projects covered by Measure I1 are the reconstruction of Lydiksen Elementary School and new science classroom buildings at Amador Valley and Foothill High School and Hart Middle School, currently scheduled for completion in fall 2022.
Measure I1 has also begun to address the repair and replacement of roofs and HVAC systems, as well as upgrading security and updating classroom technology and infrastructure.
The official November 8 bond measure ballot will read as follows:
“MEASURING THE QUALITY AND SAFETY OF EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES IN THE PLEASANTON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT. Pursue replacement/upgrading of plumbing, roofs, electrical/HVAC systems, classrooms, science labs, arts entertainment, physical education facilities/spaces, and alternative secondary schools; construction of technical careers/early childhood education classrooms; improving safety and access for students with disabilities; the measure of the unified school district of Pleasanton authorizing $395,000,000 of bonds at statutory rates, charging approximately $49 per $100,000 of appraised valuation ($26,000,000 per year) while the bonds are outstanding, should it pass requiring audits/surveillance?”