A potential school facilities bond measure on next year's ballot generated a fair amount of discussion during the Pleasanton school board's regular meeting last week.
No action was taken that evening, but district officials will continue pursuing a district-wide survey for feedback on priority projects, much like the process used in 2016 for Measure I1.
The Board of Trustees deliberated back in March if Pleasanton Unified School District voters would support a possible $120 million bond measure for next year, less than four years after they approved the $270 million Measure I1 bond and with a number of the major Measure I1 projects, like the Lydiksen Elementary School remodel, still unfinished. They agreed to decide eventually whether to issue a public poll to gauge voter support.
District leaders have been equating the possible new bond measure to a tax extension because the tax rate for property owners ($20 per $100,000 of assessed valuation) would be the same as the rate owners are paying now related to previous bond measures in 1988 and 1997, which is set to wane after 2020.
PUSD previously said that a new bond would present "an opportunity to fund approximately $120 million" in unfunded projects like upgrading Vintage Hills Elementary and replacing the portable classrooms and science labs at Foothill and Amador Valley high schools.
The district approved their Facilities Master Plan last year but need an estimated $846 million to finish projects for all 15 campuses. A little more than $145.5 million remains in funding to allocate for projects on the Measure I1 list.
The district could wait until November 2020 for placing the potential bond measure before voters, according to consultant Adam Bauer, who added, "but we are expecting a lot of noise" for the presidential election. "The other thing about the polarization of our politics is that likely increased turnout than in November 2018," Bauer said during the May 7 board meeting.
Bauer also noted that "A survey will be helpful to understand your community's tax rate sensitivity," even if the district decided to wait until 2022 to approach another bond measure.
Board President Valerie Arkin said she supported the polling but questioned how it would be received by voters.
"In our last bond, we did make a point in our marketing to the public that this bond was expiring so their tax burden will go down, and now we're kind of backtracking on that," Arkin said.
PUSD staff will present an updated list of possible bond projects by next month; polling would take place between Aug. 23 and Sept. 6. The board would have until early December to decide on the measure for the March 2020 primary election.
In other business
* Bell schedule changes to several PUSD campuses were unanimously approved May 7 after district staff reported success with pilot bell schedule programs over the past year at all three middle schools -- Hart, Harvest Park and Pleasanton -- and Foothill High School.
By adding an access period twice each week at the middle schools, Pleasanton Middle School vice principal Carolyn Dobel said the additional time would let teachers help both students who are struggling academically and those looking for a scholastic challenge.
"We want to make sure that we are addressing student needs immediately," Dobel said. "This is a great time to come together with a teacher and learn more. For students who are solid with their grades, now they can have an opportunity to extend their grades" and engage in enrichment activities.
Similar rationale bolstered support for a twice-weekly late start period at Foothill, which principal Sebastian Bull called "a step in the right direction."
Surveys conducted at all of the schools showed that 75% to 92% of staff who responded overwhelmingly favor the proposed bell schedule changes.
* The board also signed off on contracts for fixing the fire-damaged library at Harvest Park and replacing the roofing at several campuses.
Last summer a fire damaged Harvest Park's library and campus-wide low voltage systems; the board awarded a $397,506 contract to Integra Construction Services Inc. for the demolition portion of the project.
The board also approved a contract to re-roof multiple buildings at Pleasanton Middle, Amador Valley High, and Donlon and Valley View elementary schools. That work will be paid for using $604,000 from deferred maintenance funds.