$270-million bond measure goes before school board for vote tomorrow morning

Project list includes $35-million for new school

The Pleasanton school board will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. Saturday to vote on a resolution to place a $270-million general obligation bond on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.

The board approved a preliminary project list for the bond measure in a unanimous 5-0 vote July 7. If approved by 55% of those voting on the measure Nov. 8, it will be the school district's first in nearly 20 years and would impose a tax of $49 per $100,000 of assessed value for Pleasanton property owners.

“The Pleasanton trustees had an extremely thoughtful discussion and ultimately achieved consensus on the project list while simultaneously representing the diverse interests of the constituencies in the greater community," said new Superintendent Rick Rubino.

The preliminary project list includes modernizations, renovations and replacement of existing school facilities including building classrooms and buildings at Lydiksen Elementary to replace old modular buildings. In an effort to address current enrollment at existing Pleasanton elementary schools, the board voted to include $35 million to build a new elementary school.

The Board made a strong commitment to supporting “21st century" learning environments by including $15 million to provide state of the art technology in classrooms for students and teachers.

Also on the preliminary list is the addition of new 21st Century science labs at all Pleasanton middle and high schools with more than $30 million in funding allocated to complete the projects.

The board also took action on district recommendations to install solar structures at Pleasanton schools, which would provide significant ongoing energy cost savings to schools and taxpayers.

“I'm very proud to be on a board where my fellow trustees listened to each other and to our community," said Board President Jamie Hintzke. “Our deep discussion and debate led to a project list that we are excited about and all agree would benefit our students and the future of our community."

“I look forward to our meeting on July 30 where we will discuss and take possible action on moving a bond initiative forward," she added.

The big ticket items on the board's project list for approval Saturday include $203 million for modernizations, renovations and replacements of existing facilities, including $81 million to build, modernize and upgrade existing school buildings and classrooms, another $35 million to remove temporary portable classroom structures and build a new school and $30 million to build new classrooms and facilities at Lydiksen Elementary, including removing the circular buildings.

Another $29 million of the proposed bond is earmarked for safety and security measures, including $7.6 million to upgrade fire alarm systems at all schools. An estimated $7 million would be allocated for rooftop solar energy systems at some schools.

Saturday morning's meeting will be held in the board room at school district headquarters, 4665 Bernal Ave.

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6 people like this
Posted by Chemist
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 27, 2016 at 9:46 am

Don't forget the lawsuit sink fund.

5 people like this
Posted by Long Time Pleasanton Resident
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 27, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Let me say, I fully support bringing our schools up to the 21st century. However, I do have several questions.

I have not read the Bond Measure itself. How long is the tax levy will last? How many years? How much of the money will be spent on hardware alone? Will the work be done by the current employees or hired out? How much of the money will be diverted to funding fringe benefits such as pensions and other perks?

Could someone enlighten the community with some details?

10 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jul 27, 2016 at 1:46 pm

The levy is for up to 30 years. While the district said they will use shorter time periods for the technology bonds, there is nothing in the draft bond language that makes this a requirement. So our grandkids might be paying for the technology we put in today.

I am surprised in how much money they want to spend in upgrading the electrical system (which they are calling technology) as well as the millions of dollars on wired networks. Our schools can pretty much be wireless now with the hard-wire only needed to get to each of the wireless hubs. The future is wireless. I hate to see us spend all this money on yesterday's technology and have to pay for it for up to 30 years.

I am all for getting good technology at the schools but feel this is something that a tech committee of knowledgeable people in the community should be involved in since we have so much tech knowledge here.

8 people like this
Posted by Guyette
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Jul 27, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Are you guys aware that there are already 17 statewide propositions on the November ballot and one of which is a 9 billion dollar school bond? In addition, BART has a bond initiative for 3.5 billion on the ballot and now this. Better start figuring out what your tax hit is going to be before you vote. I would put this local bond on a separate ballot at a later date as when people see the number of bonds they are likely to vote no all the way down.

15 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jul 27, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Don't forget about the Alameda County $580M Bond for affordable housing.

Think we need to vote No on all these bonds and prioritize things. Still dealing with the high speed rail bond and will have water bonds coming up. Plus none of these bonds will do anything to dig us out of our public employee pension crisis that is getting worse by the day.

I have a great idea. The government should learn to live within the revenue they already receive; just like me.

4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 28, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

local, rather than throw a "no" blanket on everything, I would hope people vote local first. We have leverage to make sure technology isn't being paid by our grandchildren; same with other parts of the bond. I think the board was clearly in agreement that those particular things had to be paid in the shortest term.

The reality is, if we don't fix our schools now, our children and grandchildren will have to do it. So we aren't doing them any favors saying no now.

As I said somewhere already, we have to show up and participate and at the local level in particular. Otherwise old cliches about cut, nose, and face come to mind.

7 people like this
Posted by Alex
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 28, 2016 at 1:42 pm

I'm so pleased that Pleasanton will be investing in our children and their future!

10 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jul 28, 2016 at 2:20 pm

I have to assume the county and state bonds will pass. Those will raise my cost to live here and don't want to add even more money.

The problem is not insufficient income by the state. The problem is the income, one of the highest taxes in the country, is not going to the right places. The government siphons money from projects that people support (e.g., schools) into projects that people do not support (e.g., pensions). Then they come to us and say they do not have enough money for the important projects so we need to raise taxes.

While I support the schools, I am giving a lot already plus this bond is so rushed and there is no requirements on how the money has to be spent. The district's consultant told the school board to be as vague as possible so they can essentially spend the money on whatever they want. While there will be a citizen oversight committee, the board can vote to spend the money on whatever they want and the committee is there as a watchdog and advise. Plus the oversight committee will be appointed by staff and the board so they will only pick people that are favorable to their interests; not necessarily the interests of the taxpayer.

I say to vote no on the bond now (or have the district hold it off). Lets see what happens this election and in the mean time have a bond that truly supports the vision of the community.

5 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 28, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

You are asking everyone to vote no now on our schools because other bonds might pass. And then what? The others pass and you'll vote no later because you are already paying too much? The answer is to press for a blue book or an exact list of projects and estimates by site so voters know what the bond is for.

8 people like this
Posted by Money
a resident of Castlewood
on Jul 28, 2016 at 3:24 pm

I am going to vote no on all of them. Way to much exposure without knowing the deliverables. Besides property taxes are already high enough.

7 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Jul 28, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Voting NO on every bond measure unless they can give an exact line by line accounting of where all that money would be going! Have had their hands in my pockets for over 40 years and it's time to wean them off and learn to live on a budget like the rest of us, milking the cash cow is coming to an end!

6 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jul 28, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Good editorial in the Times today against the state school bond. Their reasons for voting against it also apply to a local school bond. These bonds get the developers off the hook for providing the school infrastructure.

For Pleasanton, we have been collecting developer fees for new school facilities. Couple issues:
1) We have not been collecting enough. SB8 put a limit of how much developers need to contribute for schools since there was a state school bond back then. The bond is out of money, so the developers should be paying more. Why hasn't Pleasanton declared a new school need and raise the developers fees, like what Dublin is doing now?
2) The district has squandered the fees collected from developers to date. The money did not go to new facilities and a lot of the money has disappeared because of legal expenses in our district.

Why are we proposing a bond for a new school when the school should be paid for by developers fees collected to mitigate the new construction impact? We are letting the developers off the hook for their fair share and moving the expense to the property owners in Pleasanton. Many who already paid their school impact fees. This bond is a subsidy for new development. If the bond passes, the developers will sue to pay lower fees since they will say the district now has enough money. It is bad enough that the new development has added significant congestion to the city, but now the school district is asking us to pay for new schools for the new development.

4 people like this
Posted by Scott Walsh
a resident of Avila
on Jul 29, 2016 at 6:26 am

Can someone explain where all the Lottery Money goes? A portion I thought went to the schools. I thought that was a big selling point for approving the lotteries in Cali.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 29, 2016 at 8:41 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Scott, this is an older article, but not a Sacramento puff piece: Web Link Something more recent: Web Link

I think the key difference is this is money that goes into General Funds. It is not money used for building schools.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 29, 2016 at 9:15 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.


(1) Changing what developers pay is not that simple, and you are aware of it. Transparency is important if you are trying to make a point with voters--for the district or county or state and for you. Don't Pleasanton developers already pay more through a gift agreement? From SchoolWorks Inc, here is what the state allows: "Level 1 Fees are established by the State and are considered the basic mitigation fee. Justification for the fee can be shown if anticipated residential, commercial and industrial development within a district will impact it with additional students. The SAB reviews and adjusts the rate every 2 years. The current rate adopted in 2016 is $3.48 residential and .56 commercial." Web Link
(2) Legal fees--not this administration's fault. A foolish and egotistical lawsuit started by then district leaders that cost us millions and lost us a school. More information here: Web Link The current administration has done all they can to respond to the questions of where the fees have been spent. They are bending over backwards to pull that history together. It's not like those responsible left clear tracks.

Be against all taxes if you wish; you aren't alone. But at least be honest that you are unwilling to pay no matter the information provided or the need of today's students.

2 people like this
Posted by Carolina
a resident of Del Prado
on Jul 29, 2016 at 10:24 am

Carolina is a registered user.

How about the School Board give a full disclosure on areas of specific improvements and exactly where, how and when the funds will be spent to accomplish what they are asking for. Do they already have bids for specific projects, and how did they come up with the monetary amount? What about cost overruns? Are ANY of the funds to be spent on administration and/or teacher benefits, salaries?

There have been school improvement bonds in the past 40 years. The school board should give a reconciliation to the public on exactly how much those bonds were for, exactly how those funds were spent, and why those funds have not been utilized to keep our schools updated more.

Are they seeking any business support to donate funds toward keeping say our computer labs current?

How about only allowing those homes that have occupants with children bear the cost of what they will be using? Also, how about the multi-unit apt or townhouse complexes that are being build and who will house higher densities of children to use the school system - why are the owners charged a higher tax burden since they inflict heavier usage. And what about our retiring seniors in Pleasanton, continual additional burdens of taxes via bonds will surely drive them out which from a financial point makes sense because it will then generate more in tax revenue when the homes are sold and thus have a higher assessed value to generate more taxes to the district on.

5 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 29, 2016 at 10:35 am

local is a registered user.

Kathleen, I am not against all taxes. I just need to feel that the money is being used wisely. I was actually ready to support this bond but I started to do more research and have since changed my mind.

If developers are adding new houses which generate more students, they should be paying the appropriate school fees for their impact. The current residents should not be taxed on that. In fact the current residents have already paid higher school impact fees for their homes. If I remember correctly, the district reduced the amount of money the developers have to pay (believe it was a couple of years ago). They said the school fees were too much of a burden to the developers. They might have sine increased the fees but I was outraged that the district would reduce fees to developers and transfer the expense to the taxpayers. As for the state requirements, why has Pleasanton not filed with the state to change level 3 fees like Dublin has?

As for legal fees, I believe the current board is responsible for the legal fees for Vranesh suits. It might be a different administrative staff now but the same board and it is the board that approved the staff recommendations on Vranesh . My understanding is the district is still using legal representation from somebody who was a board member and said the Neal school/Signature property agreement was "air tight".

I want to start trusting our district again and feel that with the new administration we have a chance. What I would prefer is to have a smaller, more focused bond now and have the district prove themselves to be responsible with it, and then come back to the community for another bond. Like many, when our previous superintendent was hired, I was optimistic that the problems from the previous superintendent would be fixed. That turned out to be wrong. Seriously wrong.

Since I am in the private sector, in business, I would be required to produce a report on the challenges faced and the pros and cons of alternative solutions. The issue with the district is they have not educated the community enough on the challenges and come up with some viable solutions through conversations with the community. It is hard to get people to agree with a 'solution' without people first agreeing upon the problems and challenges.

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

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