News


Polling firm: School district could aim for bond vote during November election

Measure could cost property owners $60 per $100,000 of assessed valuation

Pleasanton's school district will start identifying what construction and renovation projects it most needs after a recent poll indicated there may be community support for a schools facilities bond measure.

The district's board of trustees heard a presentation from a polling firm at last night's public meeting, which concluded the district could expect more than 55% of the electorate to support a bond measure -- which is the threshold for passing such a tax.

While the support varied based on how the bond will be introduced to the polled individual, about 66% of the 400 individuals polled said they would support a school facilities bond in general.

About 54% of those polled supported the bond after only being given information about specific cost structures. When told about the pros of the facilities bond, support jumped to 65%. When told about the cons, support dipped to 61%, according to the presentation.

The district has not decided exactly when it will pursue a districtwide vote on this measure or how much money to ask for, but the polling firm recommended adding this item to the November ballot and said a rate of $60 per $100,000 assessed valuation polled at about the required threshold.

District staff will next create a list of projects that need to be funded so the board can figure out the district's precise need.

"We shouldn't ask for more than we need, but we shouldn't shortchange kids who will be in this district 10 and 15 years from now," board member Chris Grant said.

However, a new school probably won't be on that list after a demographer's report stated Pleasanton's public school district will see declining enrollment in the next 10 years due to declining birth rates and slowing residential development.

By fall 2025, the district is expected to have 13,977 students enrolled, as compared to 14,754 in fall of 2015. While most schools will see a decrease in enrollment, Donlon and Fairlands elementary were among the schools that would see an increase over the next decade, so the district would have to weigh how to alleviate overcrowding at those schools down the line.

The report presented to the board stated the average elementary school would have 636 students, the average middle school would have 1,262 students and the average high school would have 2,669 students.

According to the district's most recent Facilities Master Plan, the acceptable range for enrollment is 600-700 students at each elementary school, 1,000-1,200 students at middle schools and about 2,160-2,640 students at high schools.

The district is expected to see an increase in enrollment until 2018, when enrollment could hit 15,000 students. The district's population is expected to decline after that point, which board members pointed out means the district would lose attendance revenue if that trend isn't reversed.

The board also approve the reinstatement of 12 instructional coaches, four of whom will be paid via donations from the Pleasanton Partners in Education (PPIE) Foundation.

While some classified layoffs will still have to take place, the board asked for staff recommendation about the impacts on the district as a whole of cutting or eliminating certain positions.

Board president Jamie Hintzke said board members want to make sure they have a full picture of the impact of losing each position before they approve any more layoffs.

"Everything has a cost and an implication," she said.

Early in the meeting, the board honored several employees who recently became U.S. citizens: Manja Benadjaoud, an Amador Valley world languages teacher; Frankie Flores, a Harvest Park custodian; Glenn Galiste, a district office assessment analyst; Julitha Mahendo, a district office custodian; and Rosa Isela Torre, a Valley View parent liaison.

The board also honored Rick Sira for his 30 years as Amador Valley's football coach and longtime career in the district.

"For 30 years, (Sira has been) a man who has always put his students above self, and in so doing, has helped those students reach their highest potential in the classroom, on the playing field and most importantly, as men and women of character in life," said interim superintendent Jim Hansen, who got choked up while reading Sira's accomplishments.

Comments

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Posted by anon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2016 at 5:49 am

It is amazing that we pay for consultants for this work. Don't we already have real-world data? The last parcel tax just missed the 66% required... This one is a bond, but the majority of the voters will see it as just a tax. The support should be around 66% +- about what 5, depending on the details. The "pros" came up with 66% +- the details. Shocking!

Put it on the ballot. Pass it. Great Schools equal higher property valuations. Net-Net the rise in housing value will probably trump (doh!) the cost.

As for the declining enrollment, good luck with that projection. Enrollment will not drop here as long as the economy is strong. The big game changer will be autonomous cars. If the commute becomes more tolerable because you don't have to drive it yourself, then enrollment will never decline. The demand will always be there.


3 people like this
Posted by June
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Mar 24, 2016 at 9:28 am

June is a registered user.

I read the demographer for the district indicates enrollment in Pleasanton schools will start to decline in a year or two. And the schools are not over-crowded other than needing to hire teachers to meet the maximum class size. Will the bond amount be reduced if we don't need to expand school faculties.


7 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 24, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Everyone should vote as they see fit but I will be voting against in and all bonds or taxes until such time as I hear if a plan from the city and school district which addresses pensions, headcount, expenses exceeding revenue, callers or whatever it's called. This town is without a rudder or leadership that is why we are seeing all of these initiatives going to the voters. If everything goes to the voters then let's get rid of the crucial and the school board.

What is the long range plan to addresses expenditureS and revenues?


22 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 24, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

PUSD Board of trustees have caved into the demands of the parents for years now. It is time for the board to turn this district around and start managing the district more like a business, and stop being the puppet for parent demands.

I will be voting against a any bond measure.


3 people like this
Posted by DJohns
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 24, 2016 at 4:53 pm

DJohns is a registered user.

The demographer report is hard to believe with thousands of housing units currently being built. Declining birthrates are always projected but declining enrollment has NEVER come true in Pleasanton. All Pleasanton Schools are at or beyond their enrollment limits.
The report says that new schools are not needed, IF very large overcrowded schools are acceptable. The report then says "at least two" new elementary schools will be required at some point.

" The District is currently near its desired maximum average elementary enrollment of 700 students.” "at least 2 additional facilities will be required at some point”

“District should see a resident student population that could support 11 facilities with average enrollment of 717 students.”

“DDP does not see a need for any new middle schools over the next ten years or beyond for Pleasanton USD IF an average enrollment near 1,292 for the District’s middle schools is acceptable.”

“DDP does not see a need for any new high schools over the next ten years or beyond for Pleasanton USD. IF an average enrollment near 2,694 in Districts high school facilities is acceptable no new facilities would be needed.”


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Posted by DJohns
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 24, 2016 at 6:37 pm

DJohns is a registered user.

2005 prediction of PUSD elementary schools declining enrollment, never happened. The always promised bubble of enrollment, never happened either. It is amazing that we pay for this information, common sense would give us better outcomes.

Web Link
" Enrollment in the city's elementary schools will decline as the high school population booms during the next 10 years, according to Tom Williams' demography report on the Pleasanton Unified School District.

Williams wrote in the report's conclusion. "All of the forecast factors, however, clearly suggest a declining elementary enrollment. That decline is more significant than we have projected."
This is the fifth consecutive year Williams' firm, Enrollment Projection Consultants, has provided the school district with a demographic report."


5 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2016 at 10:06 pm

BobB is a registered user.

"...caved into the demands of the parents for years now"

Parents as opposed to whom? Whose demands should they be meeting if not the children (of the parents)?


16 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 25, 2016 at 10:24 am

Until we have a Superintendent who has a bit of a track record under his/her belt, the district should not hit up the community for more money. Prove that you can handle what you currently have, before you ask for more...


4 people like this
Posted by agree
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 25, 2016 at 12:14 pm

I agree with Jack. Our facilities are in fairly good shape and there is no rush to fix things. In fact, the district does not even have a good plan on what needs to be done and the priority of it. They are polling for how much money the taxpayers might let go of, and then designing projects around money. We should wait for the new superintendent to come on board and work on a real facilities plan first. During that time the district can prove to us that good fiscal decisions are being made. We should also be looking at our operations budgets together with facilities and have a 'master plan'.


2 people like this
Posted by Enrique
a resident of Walnut Hills
on Mar 25, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Enrique is a registered user.

To Agree

I was part of the Facilities Committee that looked at infrastructure requirements for each school site. There was no discussion of the amount of funding available, so you should refrain from making generalizations about "money the taxpayers might let go of" without knowing the facts.

Also, I suggest you take a tour of some of the older schools. I doubt you would agree then that the "facilities are in fairly good shape."


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 25, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Enrique, the problem I have with the current Facilities Master Plan is that it is full of projects that should have been handled with deferred maintenance funds. While I can agree any building undergoing improvements/rebuilds should have all its systems upgraded at the same time, items like fencing, heating and air conditioning, new rubber surfaces on play structures, replacement of flooring, resurface hardcourts, polish concrete floor in warehouse, etc., should not be included in a bond.

Things I can support from the original wish list:

converting temporary buildings
lunch shelters
additions to existing structures
furniture
addition of learning spaces, like science labs

I am hopeful a list with essential projects will be presented (Amador's gym is one). I also believe the bond needs to be far less than $312 million proposed. We split bonds needs before ('88 and '97), and should do that again. It is a good way to build trust with the community. It's not like every school can be under construction at the same time anyway.


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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2016 at 3:58 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

What is wrong with Amador's gym? Are you speaking of the large gym or the small gym?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 25, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Small gym is in the Facilities Master Plan (FMP) with a fitness lab, theater with drama classroom. Although the theater with classroom is listed again and separately.


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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

I would disagree that the small gym is an essential project. It's an old gym, for sure, but it serves it's purpose, and big rooms with no load bearing posts or walls (like a gymnasium) are very expensive. If a new gym is built then the current gym could be repurposed into some or all of the things you say, which would be fantastic. But I think it all falls short of "essential".


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 25, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I'm just looking at the lists. Of all the things for Amador, that seemed reasonable. We will see what the list for a bond entails.


18 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2016 at 10:40 am

BobB is a registered user.

Can anyone help me with Michael Austin's comment that the school district is to responsive to the wants and needs of the districts parents? Why wouldn't we want that? I don't understand?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 26, 2016 at 10:48 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

BobB, Michael would have to explain. The calendar? I don't see where the board is responding to parent wants regarding a bond. I believe the bond is staff/board driven--maybe to fulfill what is in the Facilities Master plan that is now three years old.


4 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2016 at 6:51 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@Michael Austin,

Could you please explain what you mean when you say that the school district is being too responsive to parents of school children? That opinion appears to contradict what many parents are saying on these forums. Can you please give some examples?


4 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2016 at 5:00 pm

BobB is a registered user.

So for the life of me, I don't get it. Michael wants the school district to be run like a business, but says they are too responsive to their customers?

If Michael won't explain, will someone who upvoted his comment please explain?

Thanks

Bob


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Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2016 at 6:05 pm

BobB is a registered user.

So again Michael what " demands of the parents" has the school district been meeting " for years now"? What should they do instead?

Can you, or anyone please clarify.


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Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2016 at 8:45 am

BobB is a registered user.

Is seeking a bond a response to "demands of the parents"? Is that what Michael was talking about? And if the parents want a bond on the ballot, wouldn't that be the right course of action? I'm still having trouble understanding this.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 30, 2016 at 9:23 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I don't think Michael is going to answer.

There are legitimate questions about a bond. One is whether any new schools will be considered as part of the measure. Another question is a demographer's report that says (paraphrasing), as long as we are okay with extreme school sizes, no facilities are needed.

I know staff is currently looking at what size bond and what projects to recommend. I look forward to seeing that outcome and hope for projects 'worthy of our children's educational experience' (borrowed that from a good friend). A little out of the box thinking in that regard might generate a lot of support and enthusiasm.


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Posted by res1
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 30, 2016 at 1:24 pm

res1 is a registered user.

Some thing the district needs to do is show us how much money has been on deferred maintenance each year for the last 10 years or so. The state at one time allowed some flexibility to the district in how deferred maintenance can be used (I believe) so we may not have been spending the appropriate amount of money recently on maintenance. If so, that needs to be addressed. If the district is neglecting our assets/facilities, we should not be punished by having to rebuild things.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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