News

Extra bus service could ease parking woes at Amador Valley High

Pleasanton school board will consider LAVTA contract at Tuesday's meeting

A contract for adding extra bus routes to temporarily help Amador Valley High School students get to class next school year is up for consideration at this week’s Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting.

Under the proposal, the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority would provide additional, earlier bus service for its 605 and 611 bus routes for the start of the 2019-20 school year while the Amador student parking lot facing Santa Rita Road is reoriented and a new solar panel structure is installed. The school board will review the contract at its regular meeting on Tuesday, starting 7 p.m. at the Pleasanton Unified School District, 4665 Bernal Ave.

District staff have been working to find solutions for when students return in August to a campus with just 50 parking spaces for staff and faculty, and none for them. More than 400 parking spaces will be unavailable for the several months of school, leaving many families and neighbors wondering how the situation will impact them.

Temporary parking ideas like using the tennis courts and junior varsity softball fields were quickly shot down by the Amador athletic community, and the district said that renting parking space at the Alameda County Fairgrounds was too expensive and raised liability concerns.

Pausing the project until next year was also dismissed since the solar project is tied to Proposition 39 deadlines, which is funding the $650,000 to build the solar panel structure. About $1.8 million in energy costs are expected to be saved over the course of the structure’s 25-year lifespan, while offering covered parking for students and staff and providing a source of long-term renewable energy.

LAVTA would provide “in addition to its main bell AVHS service, an additional, earlier inbound frequency in the morning for each of its routes 605 and 611, as well as a second outbound afternoon frequency for each of its routes 605 and 611,” according to public documents. Two buses would be added to the morning and afternoon service.

The additional morning service would arrive at Amador at approximately 6:40 a.m. except on Wednesday mornings, when no “A” period instruction is offered. Additional afternoon departure would happen at around 4:15 p.m. The overall route travel times are scheduled to take approximately 35-45 minutes.

Those bus routes would primarily serve the neighborhoods of Amaral Park, Fairlands, Ruby Hill and Vintage Hills beginning August 12 “until anticipated completion of the AVHS construction project on or around October 31, 2019,” according to the district. Student IDs would be honored in lieu of paying fare on all route 605 and 611 trips, including regular bell trips. The estimated $40,000 for the additional bus service would come from the district general fund.

The parking lot was due to start its “eco-friendly upgrade” this weekend, according to PUSD spokesperson Patrick Gannon, who told the Weekly that the district received final approval last week from the California Geological Survey and Division of State Architects to officially break ground over the weekend.

“Both of these approval processes were required before construction can begin. We are filling out required paperwork following these approvals to get the project going,” Gannon said, adding that staff is meeting with the contractor this week and “will begin some minor construction this weekend removing speed bumps.”

A list of drop-off and pick-up zones near the campus while construction is underway plus a campus circulation map can be viewed at the district’s "Amador Solar Parking Structure Project" page under the Facilities and Construction section of the website.

In other business

* The trustees will discuss the possible appointment of a new principal at Amador and a new Pleasanton Middle School vice principal during closed session before their regular meeting.

Amador has been through four principals over the past four years, including Nimarta Grewal's current stint as interim principal since March 4. Alberto Solorzano, the most recent permanent principal at the school, resigned from his post several months ago following a district investigation that reveal unnamed administrators had removed a grade from a high school student’s transcript, in violation of state law.

The district is also searching for a replacement for former Pleasanton Middle School vice principal Mike O’Brien, who is moving into former principal Ann Jayne’s position at Vintage Hills Elementary School. O’Brien, a 21-year veteran of PUSD, also taught at Donlon and Hearst elementary schools, and previously told the Weekly that he’s “looking to open, positive and exciting communications” with the Vintage Hills campus.

* District budget projections for the next several years will also be combed over that evening in a staff report.

The district reports that its finances are good overall but is eyeing tripling the state-required 3% minimum reserve to 9%, stating that the current level “is barely adequate and only covers about eight days of payroll for all staff.”

PUSD aims to accomplish this by “setting aside up to 20% of the undesignated reserve at year-end close.”

Recently, the district added changes from Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal “to reflect the impact on the multi-year projections” and said that their budget gap-funding rate is now fully funded. “This means that all future increases to revenue will be only from the cost of living adjustment,” according to district documents.

Retirement costs for both CalSTRS and CalPERS are “projected to increase significantly over the next several years,” according to the district. During the past fiscal year 2018-19, the rate for CalSTRS was 16.28% and CalPERS was 18.06%. That rate is expected to grow from 16.28% to 17.8% for CalSTRS, while CalPERS could see big changes from 18.06% to 24.90%.

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Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 9, 2019 at 8:31 pm

Julia Baum:
Did you ask how much is the PUSD pension liability, in real dollars?
Did you ask about the lack of PUSD professional human resources leadership?
Did you ask about PUSD on floating another bond attempt, that it is a new tax?
Did you ask about salary increases, where programs were reduced or cut, how will the salary increases be funded going forward?
Did you ask what will employee benefits cost with moving them off salary schedule, what is that going to cost, where will the money come from?


2 people like this
Posted by Doreen
a resident of California Somerset
on Jun 10, 2019 at 8:48 am

Mr. Austin, the $1.8 million in savings for energy expenses will help offset budget challenges at PUSD. This sounds like a win win for every one.


9 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 10, 2019 at 10:04 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Doreen, $1.8 million over 25 years. While $72,000 a year is better than zero, it will do little to cover other liabilities.


7 people like this
Posted by Margo
a resident of Las Positas
on Jun 10, 2019 at 10:40 am

I would like to see a permanent solution to the horrific traffic in this city. It basically shuts down during the school year several times a day. This is in addition to the work commute. We need school buses to help alleviate this car traffic. We live in a geographic bowl which is criss-crossed by 2 major freeways that are at max capacity most of the time. This makes our air quality really bad and worsens climate change issues.
Valerie Arkin and Board members, please address this health hazard.


5 people like this
Posted by Frankie
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jun 10, 2019 at 8:11 pm

Please, Stick to the issue of buses to solve parking and congestion problems. Bring back school buses!!! It is gridlock in the morning and from roughly 2:30 into the commute hour. All schools have horrific queuing lines as parents line up and idle endlessly to pick up their children. That’s air quality reduction, wastes resources and blocks streets. All surrounding businesses, residences, the post office, library, etc are impacted. How come an EIR was never done City-wide on this and yet people file lawsuits over CostCo??? Unbelieveable but I guess kids, parents and schools are a third rail when it comes to admitting this huge problem.


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 10, 2019 at 9:32 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I don’t think you’ll ever see school buses again. Web Link Vehicles are very expensive; there’s fuel (or electricity); housing and maintenance; eventual replacement; labor, benefits, and pensions. And parents don’t like to pay.


2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 10, 2019 at 9:33 pm

We should pass a city ordinance for electric vehicles only


1 person likes this
Posted by Frankie
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jun 10, 2019 at 10:18 pm

At least consider an assessment or feasibility analysis of busing. Isn’t it strange that planners, including BART and the State officials expect us all to take mass transit to work or special events, but it’s OK that kids are driven to or picked up at school in mostly single driver vehicles (roughly all at the same time city-wide).

I never see more than a couple passengers on those big Wheels transit buses. PUSD should buy or lease those under-utilized big buses and let the County buy smaller shuttle buses instead.
Perhaps PUSD should provide adequate queue aisles at all school sites without causing back up onto public streets or otherwise be sued by the air quality board for air quality impacts. Maybe our legislators should get involved.

As far as parents not wanting to pay, that may be true but unreasonable. We pay parcel taxes for school bonds and we don’t have kids in the district. Consider a user fee to offset busing costs.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 11, 2019 at 10:30 am

For what taxpayers pay in Pleasanton - we could afford some school buses!!!! Any community - even very poor communities across the United States have buses to get children to school. What about other Alameda County cities - do they have buses? I suspect if parents said we can't get our children to school any longer - buses could reappear. Maybe they could do a trial run in heavily populated neighborhoods to test and to take some of the cars off the road. I have lived here over 30 years and it's just gotten worse and worse. Let's try something different folks. STOP the building and focus on infrastructure problems for a while. I know these are not easy issues but it also isn't like solving world peace. We have a lot of really smart residents here. Let's try! Bring SCHOOL buses back on a trial basis and - parents of school aged children - let's get creative so we can help solve this for everybody in our town. Also, let's take streets that have no left turns or no traffic through during school hours out of the equation. It makes carpooling very difficult and it's not fair to everyone who lives and pays taxes here. Streets should be for EVERYONE's use. If it's a busy street and you don't want that then move or don't move there to begin with. I'm thinking a particular street off Bernal. And one near Raleys. We all live here - let's not make it more difficult or cause drivers to go all the way around other streets. We can do this together. Elected representatives- start representing your current taxpayers and stop adding more housing for a while. There is plenty of that going on in Livermore, Dublin and San Ramon. We don't need to follow the leader. Let's think outside the box for a while. We have a beautiful city. Let's keep thinking.


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 11, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I think you are all missing some facts. First, you pay property taxes and the state determines how much comes back to our community based on some pretty complex formulas (Revenue Limit district). We are not a Community Based district like Palo Alto and about 100 or so other districts that keep their tax dollars.

Second, the encroachment on the budget by pension liabilities is growing, especially since the state is pushing contributions to local entities. It’s difficult to maintain quality education programs, let alone add busing.

Last, few districts in this state provide busing; many are reducing this expense. This article is several years old and speaks to this issue. Web Link

Anyone have an idea of how to pay $350,000 or more for one bus, plus fuel/electricity, plus maintenance and replacement costs, plus labor and added pension liabilities and then multiply that enough times to cover the town? Wheels is our best chance.


1 person likes this
Posted by Frankie
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jun 13, 2019 at 12:08 pm

Frankie is a registered user.

How is it that small rural areas have buses and an affluent city like us can not afford it? I think a green approach is worth some sacrifice if it eliminates a bunch of vehicle trips, idling car emissions, road impacts and traffic congestion.

What about shuttle buses like all the senior facilities have?


3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 15, 2019 at 5:07 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

What, exactly, are the sacrifices you propose? Rural communities often are spread out and likely use fewer vehicles, but that’s a guess. We need to work with Wheels for middle and high schools (Amador students definitely use Wheels). I doubt parents will put TK-fifth graders on Wheels.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 15, 2019 at 6:24 pm

The Amador and Foothill sports use buses to travel to events. Are those buses owned by PUSD or, are they private with contract?


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 15, 2019 at 7:43 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I believe those buses are rented for away games. I can look into it, but it seems unlikely the district would own buses that sit unused 90% of the time.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 15, 2019 at 7:46 pm

Thanks Kathleen, maybe those buses are a possible option.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 16, 2019 at 7:36 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Michael, From AVHS web site: Web Link

“Athletics at Amador Valley are self-funded. Athletic director costs, trainer fees, transportation expenses, uniform expenses, equipment upgrading/replacement and tournament entry fees are self-funded.”

As I suspected, this transportation is not available to ease the issue created by the parking lot solar construction..


1 person likes this
Posted by cosmic-charlie@comcast.net
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 16, 2019 at 8:24 am

I thought there was a great urgency getting this project started so the completion would not run too deep into the next school semester. So why has this project not put a shovel in the ground for 2 weeks following the school closing. Does not seem to be much urgency...


Like this comment
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 16, 2019 at 11:59 am

I’ve seen the solar installations at other schools and parking spaces are lost because of the structural support beams. Do we know how many less spaces we will have?


1 person likes this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 16, 2019 at 8:18 pm

Foot note here regarding teacher pay and taxes:

Kamala Harris is on record this weekend with her plan to raise $350 billion dollars for teacher pay. Her plan takes the money from estate taxes.

Kamala Harris does not get it, or she does not care, It is the pension plans draining the monies. Kamala Harris wants to take this $350 Billion from estate taxes to cover the unions, which she supports, which negotiated the hefty pension payouts.

The ultra left democratc party is tax and spend enthusits to pay for their everything.


3 people like this
Posted by Solomon
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Jun 16, 2019 at 9:05 pm

Michael,

Buses for sports or activities usually cost from 1,100 to 1,300 per bus. Shuttling students to Prom or Ball runs about 25 grand, and that's less than a quarter of the school population. Would you be willing to underwrite such an expense via additional taxes?


2 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 17, 2019 at 12:11 am

James Michael is a registered user.

Wait, aren't these the same young people who are all in on the GoGreen Initiative? So why is there a problem? Put your ideals into practice and walk, bike or bus to school. Or is it more of the same progressive "do as I say, not as I do"?


4 people like this
Posted by Solomon
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Jun 17, 2019 at 5:23 am

I'm unsure how many of these students have been lobbying for the Go Green Initiative or have voted for Kamala Harris. Do you have some data that links those issues to the present discussion?

Even if a majority took such measures, there is still not enough parking for students in ROP, Middle College, with disabities, or who live far from campus.


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