PUSD surveying residents this summer about potential new $120M bond measure

Board also unanimously adopts annual district budget at meeting last week

The Pleasanton Unified School District plans to gauge the community’s interest and support this summer with a poll concerning a potential new $120 million school facilities bond measure for the March 2020 primary election ballot.

The school board has been considering another bond measure for almost a year, since staff first suggested it, as well as debating whether PUSD voters would approve another bond measure less than four years after passing the $270 million Measure I1 bond.

Currently a number of marquee Measure I1 projects remain unfinished, including the Lydiksen Elementary School rebuild and modernization. Another $145.5 million remains to be allocated for the Measure I1 projects lists, but officials say the district’s ongoing facilities needs are much higher.

District leaders have been equating the possible new bond measure to a tax extension because the overall 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.

The district has said before that unfunded projects like upgrading the science labs at all three high schools would be covered by a new $120 million bond.

Last month, staff at all 15 PUSD schools were surveyed about what school site projects should be prioritized, including replacing the gyms at Amador and Foothill high schools and remodeling Vintage Hills Elementary. More than 200 faculty members participated in the survey, which presented a list of unfunded projects pulled last year from the Facilities Master Plan, as well as multiple-choice questions and write-in options for specific feedback.

Certain infrastructure improvements like upgrading the wireless network and HVAC units were highly favored across the whole district, and others like adding covered lunch shelters and traffic mitigation at some schools were also selected. Following a staff presentation at last week’s board meeting, the PUSD trustees were supportive of gathering public input but had some of their own thoughts on how to improve the polling process.

Trustee Joan Laursen agreed with one survey respondent who, according to district documents, said that not knowing about the needs of other schools seemed like “an effort to collect data that provides little value at best and is inaccurate at worst.”

“I do think that this is a problem with asking questions this way,” Laursen said during the June 25 discussion. “If you’re a staff person who doesn't have kids in our school, perhaps, and you’re at an elementary school, you really aren't in a position to judge the addition of the Amador gym, for example, or some other need at another school. That kind of bothered me a little bit in terms of people being able to assess the need.”

Trustee Mark Miller wondered whether the district should form a list of specific proposed bond measure projects for the survey or “present a broad list of things and let the public weigh in.” Noting that not all families in the district will want or support the same things, Trustee Jamie Yee said presenting a list of specific projects for everyone to agree on could be difficult.

“If you’re asking elementary parents, they’re not going to prioritize something over at Amador High School because they’re not really there,” Yee said. “Unless there’s a way to get everybody to see everything around the whole district and understand everything, they really can’t fairly weigh in. That’s the problem you run into with providing a list like this.”

Miller stated that the list should “be a little more specific this time” about exactly which projects would be funded by the potential bond, instead of proposing general purposes such as security and safety.

“As a bond taxpayer, I would want to know what the real plan was more tangibly,” Miller said. Although a less generalized list of projects “gives people less choices,” ultimately Yee said she agreed that “this time around it would be better to be more specific.”

Recently, a consultant advised the Board of Trustees that waiting to place a bond measure on the November 2020 ballot was feasible but noted that “a lot of noise” is expected for the presidential election. Community polling will take place between Aug. 23 and Sept. 6; the school board has until early December to vote on the measure for next year’s primary election.

In other business last week, the board unanimously adopted next year’s annual district budget. The district is projected to have more than $165.8 million in restricted and unrestricted local, state, federal and Local Control Funding Formula revenue; about $171.8 million in total expenditures are projected to exceed that number.

The new budget also “assumes a 3.26% increase to the base LCFF calculation,” according to district documents, as well as tripling the state-required 3% minimum reserve to 9%. The new level will be reached by saving up to 20% of the undesignated reserve at the end of each fiscal year. There are no salary increases listed to faculty or administrative staff, nor any expenditures for next year’s election.

After some recent changes based on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed state budget, PUSD has fully funded its gap-funding rate, meaning all revenue increases in the future will be just for cost of living adjustments.

The biggest change might be both CalSTRS and CalPERS retirement costs, which the district said are “projected to increase significantly over the next several years.” Employer contribution rates for both during the past fiscal year 2018-19 was 16.28% for CalSTRS and 18.06% for CalPERS.

Between now and fiscal year 2021-22, those numbers are expected to climb to 17.8% for CalSTARS and 24.9% for CalPERS. The district’s current CalPERS and CalSTRS costs in real dollars are a combined $17,431,334; those retirement benefits are forecast to reach a total $21,440,752 by the year 2022.

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22 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Jul 1, 2019 at 10:12 am

James Michael is a registered user.

Lotsa luck with your survey...sure hope I'm included this time because I never have been before. Was there a survey about the Donlon expansion? I'm sure its all about the pensions...this whole state is a ticking time bomb because of those magical pensions at the state, county, and local levels.

16 people like this
Posted by steve milina
a resident of Parkside
on Jul 1, 2019 at 10:48 am

once again how about putting an impact fee on all the non US residents that pay crazy prices for a tract home to send their kids to school here. If they can overpay for a house surely a 10% impact fee on a home purchase should be manageable. Also please include me in your survey.

18 people like this
Posted by been there
a resident of Del Prado
on Jul 1, 2019 at 11:46 am

I am curious about how enrollment is changing in the district. I understand that our community like several other highly desirable cities may be having a drop in enrollment of school-age children. The reason is young couples starting families cannot afford to live here in Pleasanton. So rather than planning on more and more children, we might have to look at actual population trends in our city to determine where funds need to be spent.

And since there is a huge "school mitigation fee"; also known as a tax, on new home building, even additions and ADU's.....I can't see where PUSD is again short of funds.

I'd like to be included in the poll, too. Maybe they should be asking a broad range of TAX PAYERS including mature adults, seniors and single home owners about how to fund educational projects, rather than asking parents as they drop off their kids. As you may know, renters make up a huge portion of our population and are not directly impacted by property taxes or bond measures, as those are based on property assessments. Which segment of the population contributes the majority of the tax revenue for schools? Just ask those people to get a feel if any bond measure will pass.

21 people like this
Posted by Livermore Parent
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 1, 2019 at 12:06 pm

Be sure to check out was has happened with the School Bond in Livermore. For the schools? What a joke!
Livermore Superintendent Kelly Bowers used the money to buy herself an office in the hills.
And the biggest lie is "no money can be used for administrator salaries and pensions".
Kelly Bowers spent $600K+ of bond money (which is borrowed money) on administrator salaries and pensions - and she hired her son!

16 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 1, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Places I can agree:
Thank you to Ms. Laursen for pointing out staff, generally, only knows about their school. I think it is likely the same for parents.
Thank you to Mr. Miller for noting specificity would be necessary. Absolutely; arguably, a lot more specific.
Thank you to Ms. Yee for noting families will find it difficult to choose. This is, however, an entire community that will vote and pay.
Thank you to the PW for noting, if indirectly, the charade of calling this a tax extension. Two bonds, paid on for 32 and 23 years, are done. This will be $120MM in **new** taxes.

I don’t agree we are ready for a new tax. The major projects of the $270MM bond haven’t been completed/started. There appears to be a problem getting the AVHS solar project started, and that isn’t even bond funding. This feels like giving money well in advance of the actual need or ability to manage multiple, major remodels.

@been there, enrollment has been growing, although I have not looked at the last report for 2018-2019. The demographer, up to that point, indicated two new elementary schools were needed (one for the East Side Development when that occurs); the middle schools are at capacity; and high schools could stay overenrolled (they are at 2,500 and 2,700–which wouldn’t be bad except they were built for 1,800 and have not been expanded other than through the use of portables). The middle and high schools are with the caveat of “if this is acceptable” or words to that effect. One of my concerns about the demographer reports is that staff, not the school board, determines what counts as capacity. That hid the elementary problem until it became a crisis with a less than perfect solution for Donlon.

13 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 1, 2019 at 3:23 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sorry—absolutely think the survey should be of all interested residents. I understand the surveys are supposed to find a “statistically representative” group, but who answers these kinds of robo calls anymore? How does anyone know this time it is important and from the district?

28 people like this
Posted by My opinion
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2019 at 5:13 pm

My opinion is a registered user.

Not one dime for the schools until they clean house of the high paid, fully pensioned administrators. They change upper level staff in the schools like most people change their underwear. Fix your turnover, fix your pensions, cut back needless spending and then just maybe I might sometime agree to pay for another bond.

All surveys should be done via an online link or the USPS and not a phone call. My phone does not even allow robocalls to get through so it is not a matter of not answering it is a matter of never getting the call. I suppose this way they can insist that they did do a survey even if not one person actually gets to respond.

9 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 1, 2019 at 5:34 pm

Canvasing should be door to door.
The number of doors knocked on, the number of doors knocked on that provided response.

Representative Kathern Baker did door to door canvasing.
Why can't the PUSD do door to door canvasing?

16 people like this
Posted by Lin
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 1, 2019 at 9:18 pm

Maybe the PLeasanton school district should dig a little deeper they might find a billion dollars like the the universities did.
Schools are famous for hiding money.

14 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 1, 2019 at 9:49 pm

I will gladly support this once you show me the district is fiscally responsible and delivers on current bond measure promises.

I dont support the union or its cost structure, but if the district can support the liabilities and deliver on school improvements/maintenance/capacity then I'll support responsible bond measures.

So far the district has failed to deliver on current promises of a new school, failed to manage their liabilities, failed to manage personnel,
and all this even with increased tax revenue.

We are fortunate to have some strong teachers and parents holding education together.

I haven't seen smart decisions by the district in support of more of our hard earned money.

18 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Resident
a resident of Mission Park
on Jul 2, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Not a penny more! Where is all the money being spent from the last 270 million bond and now you want more to mismanage! I am appalled at the mismanagement of the funds e.g. the laptop roll-out.........I sent my kids back, thanks but no thanks and oh by the way nobody even asked if we wanted one! Total waste, here is a novel idea how about only giving those students who need one a laptop.
Other obvious waste of funds go to hiring more consultants to perform surveys, assessments and protect the administration from lawsuits and pay outs to avoid law suits. I want my previous contributions to directly benefit the KIDS not the administrators pensions and paychecks and other hair brained poorly executed programs. No, No, and more NO to another bond! Dig deep with what you have!

15 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Jul 2, 2019 at 12:48 pm

NOPE!! Not another dime, account for the measure I1 bond money, 270 million $$ and have only seen those useless laptops. We want a line by line dollar accounting of that bond money!

9 people like this
Posted by 1983
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 2, 2019 at 9:00 pm

This should be your survey.

18 people like this
Posted by No way
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2019 at 9:04 am

No matter how many hundreds of millions of dollars are poured down the drain, the facilities at PUSD will always look like they are run by a bunch of slumlords. After all, how many decades can the ramshackle poles from the former chain link fence between the two front parking lots at Amador remain standing before someone in the D.O. finally pulls out these poles? They will probably be there forever. Because the out of towners they seem to hire to staff the PUSD simply don't care.

They can't seem to build a school even if they promise one as they did on the last bond measure propaganda (a new wing of classrooms at Donlon is not a new school folks). They can't even seem to be able to execute a simple like put solar panels in the parking lot during the summer (so far no work has started in the 4 weeks since school let out).

Another bond measure where there is nothing to show from the last one is laughable.

On the other hand, I would gladly support a bond measure for Las Positas College. They actually build facilities and the students have decent classrooms. And I don't see a broken down set of what were once fence poles at the LPC front entrance like I do whenever I pass by Amador.

12 people like this
Posted by tim
a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Jul 6, 2019 at 9:09 am

only the foolish vote to increase their own taxes

9 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jul 6, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

@tim, nonsense. Like PP said, I'd be willing to pay if I had any reason to believe it was going to something we need. However, as everyone else has been saying, the district has not shown itself to be responsible nor responsive to the needs of the community they serve. It's a shame they coast on the abilities of the students and families who are here but would succeed anywhere, rather than demonstrate any particular talent or desire to form a quality district. (I'm not knocking the good and hard working teachers, nor the administrators who have to put up with self entitled parents. But come on, the district office seems to be doing all it can to annoy its supporters in the city.)

7 people like this
Posted by member01
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 7, 2019 at 7:55 am

While the empirical evidence is out there that a bond for capital improvements benefits all- schools, students, homeowners (higher home prices), I'm skeptical that this crew at the district office can identify and prioritize the investment correctly. I would strongly suggest that before anyone goes out and does a survey, go google the academic research.

Why am I skeptical? First, look the last bond was passed by the community and the first investment benefits primarily one school... what should be have been done is spread the money around so everyone gets to see some benefit. Second, the AVHS gym was left of the list of investments, but PE is a required academic area. Three, focus on the big things- buildings- things with a 30+ year life NOT technology which has a 5 year life. Finally, don't spend it all on one site, sprinkle it around.

It would be interesting to see if this could be structured as a tax on gas meters instead of property. Why? With more and more high density housing, a gas meter tax would be the only way to ensure that there is fair taxation of all residents. That said, I'm not sure if a gas meter tax is legal... anyone know?

6 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 7, 2019 at 3:34 pm

Flightops is a registered user.

Who is paying for these surveys and lists that PUSD are spreading around town, where is that “disposable” money coming from?? These guys will keep throwing ideas against the wall till something that us taxpayers might like sticks to that wall then that will be where the 120 million dollar bond will be earmarked for, of course we will never see what was promised but who cares it worked for the 270 million dollar bond so why not this new one !!

2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 7, 2019 at 3:49 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Member, I like that approach (gas meter tax) for a future, appropriate bond measure.

I disagree with spreading the money over every campus just to ensure every campus gets hit. I would like to see a prioritized project list, stating here's what we are going to do 1st, 2nd, etc even if it means proposing another planned future bond post completion of those other projects.

Again. With this latest bond I've seen no vision, no delivery on promises, just false marketing of a new school with classroom expansion as a result. Weak

4 people like this
Posted by Member01
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 7, 2019 at 5:30 pm

Pleasanton Parent, you raise an interesting question, how best to allocate capital bond money around the district. Arguably, the way for the most to benefit from a community funded bond would be to start at the point where the most benefit. This would argue that investments need to start with investment in our two high schools since all students will finally pass through one of the two campuses. Then, flow down to middle school campuses and finally end up at the elementary sites.

Again, focus on projects that have a 30+ year life.

12 people like this
Posted by Clownsville
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jul 8, 2019 at 2:21 pm

It's now the sixth Monday since the Monday they were supposed to start construction on the Amador parking lot solar panels and there's no sign of them even starting. While I agree that there are a lot of facilities needs--desperately needed, I might add--I also feel that the leadership in this district are clearly not the right people to entrust with the job. I say NO on any new bond measure or parcel tax until we have new leadership at the top and a new school board. People, please challenge these complacent incumbents!!!

3 people like this
Posted by Karl Aitken
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 8, 2019 at 6:17 pm

All of you people complaining about no work being done on the solar project at Amador. There is a very clear project schedule posted on the school district website that show all of the project details.

There is work being done offsite in preparation to start construction onsite mid-to-late July.

Instead of complaining, educate yourselves!

Yes, pun intended.

You can track the milestones on the project plan to what you see on site if you desire to do so.

5 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 8, 2019 at 7:15 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

It helps if you provide a link: Web Link

It does appear some of that timeline could have started sooner; procurement?

11 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 8, 2019 at 7:29 pm

Okay, why didn't the off site work begin and finish during the school term and finish up on campus during the summer break?

Again, what is the thought process with the district leadership, the staff is leaderless.

3 people like this
Posted by cosmic-charlie
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 8, 2019 at 7:55 pm

Interesting the schedule does not show work prior to June. No excuse for not having shovels in the ground on the 1st Monday following the school year. No excuse for their time-line and milestones. Really...this infuriates me to no end! What a bunch of #%$&*@$!

8 people like this
Posted by Ahem!
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jul 9, 2019 at 7:03 am

According to the email sent by Rich Huckabee Gannon on April 11, "While the planning (design, bidding, contracts, permits, etc.) have been in the works since 2018, *construction is set to begin in June 2019* to take advantage of the Summer months when the parking lot will be vacant."

1 person likes this
Posted by Karl Aitken
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 9, 2019 at 4:46 pm

FYI - Unless the Pleasanton Weekly has some sort of controls in place to protect posters, clicking on links leads to many computer troubles - viruses, phishing scams, etc.

I don't provide them and I don't click on them.

If someone can't do a Google search on Pleasanton School District.......

2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 9, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Hi Karl, It was a link to the information you cited available on the PUSD web site. Just Googling doesn’t always take you to the information being sought. I think the bad sites posted are often obvious based on who is posting; personal choice!

5 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Resident
a resident of Mission Park
on Jul 14, 2019 at 11:32 am

Not going to happen, the constant hand out from PUSD asking for money is non stop. The mismanagement would never fly in a business but alas PUSD can continue to do surveys and pay consultants to tell them what they could learn by actually going out and talking to the tax payers vs hiding behind another lame survey.

Go ahead put it on the ballot, the unbelievable nerve to ask again for another bond is valuable insight into just how out of touch these leaders really are.

1 person likes this
Posted by Karl Aitken
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 15, 2019 at 3:14 pm


You may want to rethink your approach. You would be surprised what scammers, hackers, etc. do to trick people into giving them access to their PC and personal. One wrong click is all it takes.

Just looking at the poster isn't very robust computer security strategy. You have no idea where the link will take you and as soon as you click you've potentially let hackers access your computer, home network, etc.

Yes - it is a personal choice. You may want to reconsider yours. You may be a little naïve and exposing yourself to major issues. No insult intended.

I work for a tech company that is constantly reminding us how to protect ourselves at work and at home. Just trying to help people avoid big issues.

2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 15, 2019 at 4:01 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

There are a very few posters, registered with PW, whose links I trust and will click. While I’d love to believe everyone is trustworthy and wishing to share important info, I know it is not the case and I am careful. Thanks for the words of caution though!

1 person likes this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Jul 15, 2019 at 9:11 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

Never ever click on a web link. Especially if its from a poster with a made up name like cholo, molo, pololo or any of the other un-registered users. High schoolers trying to lead you down the road.

8 people like this
Posted by Frankie
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jul 16, 2019 at 9:29 pm

Frankie is a registered user.

After 30 years here, I’ve seen so much money wasted by the PUSD Notably their unsuccessful lawsuit against Signature Homes. The fees paid by builders is high and we pay for a tax bond already. And still we may be asked to kick in more money. We don’t have kids in the PUSD and are retired struggling with all the other increasing taxes and expenses. NO WAY WE SUPPORT ANOTHER BOND MEASURE. At least, exempt senior citizens and establish a user fee. We know of 2 or 3 houses in the area where residents sponsor kids from another country so they can attend schools here. That has to create some inequities for others in terms of paying more money.

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

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