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.