PUSD to poll community this month on new bond measure

Board OKs contract to survey residents about proposed $120M facilities bond

From naming new appointments to revisiting a potential facilities bond, the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees had plenty homework of their own for their first meeting of the new school year on Tuesday night.

The trustees took the next step toward pursuing a new $120 million bond measure that was first floated in concept last year. A monthly contract for $6,500 was unanimously approved Tuesday evening for services related to surveying the community about a proposed property tax that would be on the election ballot next year.

Two bond measures from 1998 and 1997 are set to expire in 2020, prompting district officials to pursue another facilities bond that would extend the existing PUSD tax rate.

Residents have said they're ready to finally lower their property taxes and that a number of projects that were supposed to be completed using Measure I1 revenue still haven't materialized, like modernization plans at Donlon Elementary School. The district has said before that major upgrades on the science labs at all three high schools would be covered by the proposed bond. Approximately $145.5 million remains to be allocated for the Measure I1 projects list.

In late June, several board members noted the difficulty of community members weighing in fairly about prioritizing projects at the district's 15 schools without knowing each site's specific needs. Project specificity for polling the public was also suggested at the time.

District spokesman Patrick Gannon told the Weekly that polling will be conducted by the hired bond strategist between Aug. 23 and Sept. 6 in a "very scientific" manner, just like when Measure I1 was first introduced.

"It has to be a representative sample so it can't be just a (website) link for folks to take the survey," Gannon said. "The last time we did bond polling (for Measure I1), it was a sample of 400 Pleasanton voters."

Consultants have advised the board that the November 2020 presidential election will likely "generate a lot of noise;" the trustees have until early December to decide whether to place the measure on the March 2020 primary election ballot.

Prior to the new bond measure discussion Tuesday, the board approved the next issuance and sale of $100 million in Measure I1 bonds. Interest rates are at near-historic lows, which was attributed by district staff to a variety of factors including the recent cooling of European economies, political tensions with Iran, federal rate cuts and a trade war with China.

The district's assessed value grew 49.2% to $25.4 billion over an eight-year period following the Great Recession, which staff said "really speaks to the resilience and desirability of the Pleasanton community." Their 2018-19 tax rate of $64 per $100,000 of assessed value is also the third lowest in Alameda County.

The $270 million Measure I1 facilities bond levies a property tax rate of $49 per $100,000 of assessed value on properties within the district. Because the district's assessed valuation was higher than their assumptions, the district said that the cost to taxpayers is expected to be reduced when the next round of bonds are sold.

PUSD will start selling bonds to the investment community later this month. Once the next series of bonds are sold, about $99.3 million of Measure I1 authorization will remain unissued.

In other business

* Two new leaders at Harvest Park were named Tuesday evening, just in time for the 2019-20 school year. The trustees unanimously named Georgianna Kruse-Silva and Nicole Hurtado as new co-vice principals of the campus.

Both women are newcomers to PUSD but also classroom veterans. Hurtado spent the past 12 years teaching at John F. Kennedy High School in Fremont and Kruse-Silva comes from Carlmont High School in Belmont, where she was a summer school principal, program coordinator and science teacher from 2003 until her new appointment at Harvest Park.

In June, former vice principal Caroline Fields left Harvest Park after five years to become the new principal at Hart Middle School. Fields has replaced former Hart principal Leslie Heller, who vacated her seat this summer to become principal at Village High School.

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Like this comment
Posted by Disheartened
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 15, 2019 at 12:52 pm

Disheartened is a registered user.

PUSD needs to prioritize re-instating a bus program for getting its students to and from elementary schools. Faced with a unavoidable veterinary appointment at Bishop Ranch at 8:40 this morning, I nearly missed it because I couldn't get out of my own Vintage Hills neighborhood. Cars were parked on both sides of Touriga Drive from Concord all the way down past Reisling. Concord, too has far more parked cars than it can handle during pick-up/drop/off hours. Residents have resorted to placing cones in their driveways to try to prevent parents from impinging on their private property, and the traffic delay continued all the way down Bernal until the library intersection.
I usually avoid travel during those hours, and a stop sign has been added on Concord at the intersection of Kottinger, which is beneficial for accident prevention, but once past it, SUVs often barrel it the rest of the way toward Palomino.
If Measure I1 has $145.5 million not yet allocated, how about allocating it toward signing a viable transportation contract for the elementary and middle school students to give residents of neighborhoods surrounding those elementary and middle schools a fighting chance at reclaiming their streets? It is downright shameful that a city and school district of this size and quality won't provide school buses to transport its children, to the benefit of the entire community.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 15, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Disheartened, you could maybe buy the buses with bond money, but you couldn’t hire drivers with those funds. Maybe a call to the city to see if tickets are needed? What incentive can we create for carpooling?

Like this comment
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 15, 2019 at 3:39 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

This basically the same story from 3 days ago...sheesh. So that thread is dead and we need a new one. Yes, KR, car pooling is the answer, better and cheaper than busses, and should be easily achievable in the computer age. But its been my experience that its usually one person who carries most of the burden.
As for the bond measure polling, if its by phone most of us won't be included. Mail or an online poll would work better for those who care enough.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 15, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

JM, Agreed.

1 person likes this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 15, 2019 at 7:55 pm

Disheartened, want bond money spent on bussing? How about we solve the bigger problem of overcrowded schools and neighborhood student displacement by building a new school with that money?
I promise that will help ensure you make your future veterinary appts on time as well. Unless traffic from construction of a new school inconveniences you in this as well. Maybe a special clause for you to bypass in the event you’re inconvenienced.
School district lied on the last bond, absolutely not supporting a new one. What’s the phone number to call them, I’ll make the call so they don’t have to call me

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