School board approves bond resolution for ballot

Measure would generate $270 million for facilities improvements

At a special meeting Saturday morning, the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution placing a $270 million general obligation bond on the ballot for the November election.

The decision followed years of conversation and research about a potential bond measure to fund needed improvements at district schools. In January 2013 the district completed a facility master plan that identified several capital projects district-wide estimated to cost $500 million. If approved by 55 percent of voters come Nov. 8, the bond would generate approximately $270 million for projects by imposing a tax of $49 per $100,000 of assessed value for Pleasanton property owners.

"The school district needs these improvements not just for the kids in school today, but for future generations," Board of Trustees member Chris Grant said after the vote Saturday. "Hopefully I can thank you in advance for your support."

The two-hour meeting, which was attended by roughly a dozen people, was scheduled so school district administration could file the bond resolution with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters before Aug. 12.

Among those who had comments about the bond proposal and affiliated project list was former Pleasanton city councilwoman Kay Ayala, who expressed concern over the call for an election happening over the summer.

"We shouldn't be doing this on July 30 when all the citizens are on their last vacation," Ayala said. "This is a Band-Aid fix. Slow down and get the entire community around you."

Speaking after Ayala's comment, Board of Trustees Vice President Mark Miller emphasized the need to address outstanding facilities issues and expressed his satisfaction with the project list.

"Adding a school, modernizing the labs, becoming more energy efficient -- I'm very confident we have a very good list," Miller said. "The idea of waiting to come up with something better is great, but stuff still needs to get done -- we've delayed this forever."

The district intends to spend the tax monies it would receive on projects that fall into four categories: safety and security with a roughly $29 million allocation; creating 21st century learning environments including new science and technology facilities for $97.8 million, energy and water improvements that would cost $10 million, and modernizations and new infrastructure at a cost of $139 million. Among the marquee items that would be funded are a new elementary school, new classrooms at Lydiksen Elementary School and upgraded fire alarm and security systems.

As part of this process, the school district and board considered an independent bond feasibility survey and looked at three bond program scenarios with tax rates ranging from $45 to $60 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Once the $49 rate was settled on, several projects that had been included on a preliminary list were eliminated. New playground equipment, an upgraded wireless network and new synthetic tracks and fields at Pleasanton high schools were among the items cut.

Retired PUSD administrator and former interim superintendent Jim Hansen said Saturday that the final project list represented a collection of upgrades that Pleasanton children deserve.

"They deserve to be in facilities that are second-to-none, and they deserve technology that brings them into the 21st century," he said at the meeting.

After the meeting, Superintendent Rick Rubino underscored the support of the board in a statement.

"The board's support of this measure is an important step in building on the excellence of our schools through investing in 21st century learning environments and improving safety at our schools," Rubino said. "We look forward to speaking candidly with Pleasanton voters about the state of our schools, the bond project list, and information for taxpayers."

If approved, this would be the district's first such measure in nearly 20 years.

A yet to be determined aspect of the upcoming election is who will run for the three seats on the Pleasanton Unified Board of Trustees. Member Valerie Arkin and Board of Trustees President Jamie Hintzke have formally filed for reelection, while Grant has not yet indicated if he will seek reelection.

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4 people like this
Posted by Jackie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 2, 2016 at 7:22 pm

My child is new to FH and the first thing we've noticed was how badly this high school is maintained and how poorly it looks comparing to schools from a neighbor county. It does need a face-lift, new stadium, more vegetation. I hope the people of Pleasanton will agree to invest in their kids' future.

1 person likes this
Posted by local
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 2, 2016 at 9:37 pm

The problem is the district has not been spending the operational funds in a way to maintain what we paid for already. We are still paying for a certificate of deposit which paid for improvements at Foothill and the district has not been doing the maintenance. Plus we are paying on an existing bond that renovated all schools in the district. If the district is not going to maintain the facilities, it is just wasting our money. The district was given flexibility on how to use the deferred maintenance funds and they have been neglecting the facilities. Bond money is not supposed to be used for maintenance. That is a VERY expensive way to maintain things.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 8:49 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

local, all districts were given flexibility to not put aside funds for deferred maintenance. It was a period of economic downturn. Agreed, expensive plan. Also a necessary plan. You have listed all your complaints and no solution---well except for, let's wait two more years. Structures do not benefit from waiting.

We have pointed to the errors made by previous administrations. Let's get things fixed; let's hold the new team to task (and accountable); let's be certain they put aside funds to maintain what we provide. It takes more our consistent involvement rather than waiting until the next need arises and we want to say no. Let's get the city and district to work together more (city center is a great place to start). It takes more than just current parents; it is our community.

Good article today by Dan Walters of Sacramento Bee: Web Link It is critical of the state bond process and pointed to something we should be certain of--no developer or contractor contributions to pass this bond. He concludes with: "Superficially, school construction is a positive civic endeavor. But in practice, there are unseemly aspects that should be cleaned up."

3 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Aug 3, 2016 at 9:25 am

DKHSK is a registered user.


"Let's get things fixed".

Ok, how?

"let's hold the new team to task (and accountable)"

By what mechanism?

"let's be certain they put aside funds to maintain what we provide."

Ok, how? And what if they don't?

"Let's get the city and district to work together more"

Ok, how? What if they don't?

"Good article today by Dan Walters... there are unseemly aspects that should be cleaned up."

Many commenters (myself included) have said this many times.

5 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Aug 3, 2016 at 9:28 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

I have a child that goes to Foothill. Not once has she ever come to me after school and said: "you know what Dad, the lack of vegetation and having to attend English class in a temporary structure is really affecting my academic experience here at Foothill."

And I've asked her.

Vote no.

3 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2016 at 9:38 am

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"It does need a face-lift, new stadium". It might need a lot of things, but FHS does not need a new stadium, there is nothing wrong with what is there. I have always been able to get a seat, even on popular football nights like FHS vs AV.

My favorite thing about the Foothill facilities is the red roofs, for a school with colors of blue and yellow. I have no idea why this is, as this happened decades ago, but it is absolutely silly.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 9:43 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Fix - Bond.
Accountability - Independent auditor and citizens' oversight committee . . . required.
Set aside - Show up. Nothing like an audience when decisions are being made.
Collaboration - They already have meetings together; see set aside above. They have worked together before. Still can.

I have been told that the high schools are now so overcrowded that course selection is a problem. A temporary structure should be just that, temporary. I wouldn't add plantings in a drought. You appear to have a kind daughter.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 9:48 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

GtF, the KFC roofs? I think it was a contractor error that stayed. More than 20 years now.

3 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 3, 2016 at 10:20 am

There is nothing wrong with our schools that a little annual maintenance could take care of. This whole bond is just another money grab.

This town has much larger issues to contend with. Our elected leaders both board and council continue to waste our money. I.e. Dog park and now 2 more lights in front of Amador at over $500,000. Give me a break. There are so many lights and signs there I started looking for the clowns mouth. Those kids should be walking to and from school

1 person likes this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 10:43 am

"Accountability - Independent auditor and citizens' oversight committee . . . required. " Yup, we had that for the last bond. The district still did an illegal cash out. They still did not maintain what the previous bond built, that we are still paying for. Also, the committee will be appointed by the district. Want to guess if it will be their friends and supporters of the bond that are on the committee? Real "independent".

If we want a system where the district is accountable, they should do a smaller bond to start with and show how fiscally responsible they are with that money. Then they will have no issues in having the taxpayers pay more. There are no repercussions to them not being un-accountable if you approve all the money now.

If your kid has made poor decisions with money and then asks you for a really large loan, you would most likely say, "let me lend you a smaller amount now and if you manage it well and meet your obligations, you will get more."

I still object to using a bond to pay for maintenance. You don't take out a 30 year loan to pay for maintenance items. That should come out of operations (the state, parcel tax, etc.) or possibly a real short bond. There is nothing stopping the district from doing a 30 year bond for the maintenance part of this.

You also state that the high schools are overcrowded and you cannot get a class. I did not see anything in the bond discussion about adding capacity to our high schools. The new classrooms are for elementary schools only.

While the city and school district have worked well in the past, the district has not done this for the last 5-10 years. The district did not even commented on changes to the general plan and the new housing and what the implications would be. They just said "build it and we will figure it out.". I guess the bond to the existing taxpayers was their plan all along. The district used to be very involved in the planning process at the city for feedback and planning. Once again, lets have the new administration show how we can leverage these relationships, and then we will give more money. It is hard to build trust on what you say you will do in the future. We have seen the empty promises in the past.

2 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Aug 3, 2016 at 4:24 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.


It's a bad bond. Period.

Too much money; Not enough going towards real progress (I believe something you've acknowledged); And no real accountability.

Vote No.

Like this comment
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Aug 3, 2016 at 4:30 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.


I do have a kind daughter. She's also bright and couldn't care less about the things that you and others seem to be worried about.

What is it about "temporary" buildings that you don't like? Are they not safe? Pretty? Is there some identifying factor that you can give us other than saying they're "temporary"? That's not very persuasive, IMO.

I will make it a point to ask other parents and their kids they're thoughts, informal-like.


2 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 3, 2016 at 8:42 pm

Had a chance to read the opinion piece from Dan Walters that was mentioned previously. He agrees that the bonds we have now are bad. Two of his main issues are highlighting the issues of this Pleasanton bond:
1) We should not be using 30 year bonds for maintenance and things like air conditioning. This bond will pay for maintenance, air conditioning, electrical upgrades. Heck, this bond even pays for painting the schools. Really? 30 year loan to pay for painting schools? That is crazy.
2) These bonds are getting the developers off the hook and having the taxpayers subsidize the developers. The law that the developers helped pass (SB 8) says if there is bond money, the developers do not have to pay their fair share of the school fees required to mitigate their impact. Passing the state bonds, and even district bonds, means the taxpayers subsidize the developers.

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

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