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Voters face three school bond measures come March

Uploaded: Jan 14, 2020
Dublin school trustees and senior staff have spent the last several years scrambling to find a site for a second high school as well as other school sites as enrollment in East Dublin far exceeded expectations.

For 2020, however, it will be a year of moving forward with one key caveat. The school sites have been resolved and the $38 million eminent domain purchase of a high school site in East Dublin should have put that issue to rest. A committee now is being formed to recommend a name.

The caveat is whether Dublin citizens will approve a $290 million bond issue that is on the March 3 ballot. Dublin voters have consistently supported both school bonds and a parcel tax so there’s a good chance they will continue that trend. It would increase the taxes by $50 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Trustees put the measure on the ballot because they do not have the funds available to finish the second phase of the new high school as well as a middle school at Dublin Crossings. Money also is targeted at renovating the upgrading several older campuses in the community.

The March 3 ballot also carries a $15 billion state schools bond that targets everything from K-12 schools to colleges and universities. Ironically, it is numbered Proposition 13, an echo of the 1978 measure that slashed property taxes and limited the annual increase. It remains popular with voters to this day, although union and public education interests have pushed forward a state measure for a split roll that would leave intact the limits on residential properties, but allow reassessment of commercial and retail buildings.

If state voters go along with the March bond measure then districts like Dublin and Pleasanton will again have the potential of receiving state funds to match the locally raised money. State matching money was a key element in the financing plan Dublin trustees agreed to while working on this new bond.

Given the interest in the Democrat presidential primary, a strong turnout is likely on that side and Dems typically favor school bond measures.

Pleasanton voters will decide Measure M on March 3. The $323 million bond measure would maintain an existing tax rate because two existing bond measures will be paid off this year. Voters in 2016 approved a $270 million bond measure. The district’s facilities master plan identified about $1.1 billion in needs.

The district sent out an informational mailer that you may well have missed—it dropped in the mailing chaos before Christmas. When I emailed district spokesman Patrick Gannon asking about the timing, he wrote back, “We wanted to get the information out early to Pleasanton residents so that potential voters had time to gather information to make a decision come ballot time.

“We didn't want to get too far into election season either and risk having it viewed as a political piece, as our goal is to educate our community to determine solutions they feel are right to them.”

The district certainly succeeded in the one goal, but here’s wondering just how many people noticed it. The timing is challenging because vote-by-mail ballots are scheduled to be delivered the week of Feb. 3, a month prior to election day.

Both the Dublin and Pleasanton bond measures require approval of 55% of the votes cast.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Melinda, a resident of Alisal Elementary School,
on Jan 14, 2020 at 8:58 am

Melinda is a registered user.

Exempt seniors age 65+ and they have my vote. I'm retired, paid 30 years of school bond monies, watched district mid-management (wasted lawsuits) with still no real facility improvements. Employment attract residents, so increase business taxes to pay for school bonds.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Jan 14, 2020 at 1:39 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

Any Democrat who voted for these bonds in the past and is over 65 should be liable to pay for any bonds voted in the future.

This is what you wanted, and you're going to keep getting it.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on Jan 14, 2020 at 2:27 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"The $323 million bond measure would maintain an existing tax rate because two existing bond measures will be paid off this year."

Tim, I'm not sure how this is correct or even possible. We are paying about $20/$100,000 right now and that decreases into 2021 and the end of the bonds. I don't believe any materials indicate payment on $323MM is going to be that low. Aren't they using the ridiculous (my opinion) statement of 4 cents per $100?

And then let's skip the fantasy. The 1988 and 1997 bonds are about to retire/end/are done. We are not renewing anything. Call it what it is, a new tax.

And an embarrassingly big ask, far too soon after the big ask in 2016 at $270MM. We have only issued bonds for about half ($140MM) with $130MM in bonds yet to be sold. The district has paid off old debt with this new debt ($14MM), put up fences, purchased 7,000 Chromebooks without determining the actual need, and not much else of substance. No new elementary school yet; not even one new classroom for students overflowed all over town. No roofing repairs ($2MM set aside so far out of the stated need of $40MM).

Meanwhile, there is no funding for current maintenance needs. Check Amador bathrooms, water fountains, general cleaning. This neglect will become the next need stated for a third bond. The district is no better at managing these funds than in the past.

Lastly, they cannot possibly do all the projects they suggest at the same time, which means they will be collecting money from our piggy banks to sit in theirs for many years yet to come.

Come back in two years when we can see substantive work. Until then, Measure is too much and too soon.

Melinda, the district cannot legally offer senior exemptions on bonds.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on Jan 14, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I should have added, the estimate to pay off Measure I1 and Measure M, if it passes, is $1.2 Billion. The district is not held to that estimate for obvious reasons.

There also is NO guarantee that listed projects will be completed. From the supporting resolution: "Inclusion of a project on the Bond Project List is not a guarantee that the project will be completed ***regardless of whether bond funds are available."*** Yeah, that's boiler plate, but it protects the district, not taxpayers.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jan 14, 2020 at 3:29 pm

I agree, it is a new tax.
There is no other way to slice it.
When PUSD, and their spokesperson Gannon state otherwise they are both lying.

Posted by Kiko, a resident of Val Vista,
on Jan 14, 2020 at 4:35 pm

"Melinda, the district cannot legally offer senior exemptions on bonds"...and that is exactly why they are proposing a bond instead of a parcel tax. But don't be fooled, they will attempt another parcel tax once the state guts the 2/3 rule. And don't believe for a second that that is not in the works.

Posted by plebe, a resident of Birdland,
on Jan 20, 2020 at 7:05 pm

plebe is a registered user.

I was looking at the Measure I1 projects list on the PUSD website and it lists $14M to pay off debt. That seems strange. Can anyone point me to where PUSD communicated to the voters that the money would go to debt and not to directly helping students? I'm confused....

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