PUSD: Board to review polling results on potential new bond measure

Also: Trustees will consider cost increases for new portables, science labs at Amador and Foothill

Results from a recent survey gauging local voters about a potential new $120 million bond measure will be shown at the Pleasanton school board meeting on Tuesday night.

The Pleasanton Unified School District first raised the idea last year of placing a proposed property tax on the 2020 primary election ballot that would extend the existing district tax rate when two other bond measures from 1998 and 1997 expire during next year.

Properties within the district are taxed at a rate of $49 per $100,000 of assessed value under the current $270 million Measure I1 bond approved by Pleasanton voters in 2016.

Approximately $145.5 million still has yet to be allocated for the Measure I1 projects list, which includes plans to modernize and expand the Donlon Elementary School site. The district has previously stated that all three high schools would have major science lab upgrades funded by the proposed bond.

A total of 619 interviews were completed for the hybrid telephone and email-to-web survey, which was conducted by a private consulting group between Aug. 23 and Sept. 6.

The resulting 23-page report on the survey stated that “nearly three-quarters of voters believe it is crucial for Pleasanton to have excellent schools even if that means raising taxes,” and “support for a bond measure today hovers around the 55% threshold required to pass; with a slight difference in support between the two amounts tested.”

Three-quarters of respondents rated the statement, “The job Pleasanton Unified School District is doing overall,'' as either “Good” (49%) or “Excellent” (26%), but ranked the district’s management of their budget and voter-approved bond monies less favorably.

Opinions on the district’s budget management skills were nearly split, with 39% answering either “Excellent” or “Good,” and 34% categorizing the district’s job as either “Only Fair” (21%) or “Poor” (13%); the remaining 27% selected “Don’t Know.”

Survey contributors were also divided about PUSD’s performance of bond revenue management; 33% rated the district as either “Good” (28%) or “Excellent” (5%), while 30% selected “Only Fair” (19%) or “Poor” (11%). However, 37% of respondents selected “Don’t Know”, outnumbering either group.

Last month the district completed its second issuance for $90 million of Measure I1 bonds, which sold out almost within hours. The district said the quick transactions and low interest rates were helped by their credit rating and the community’s overall stability and growth of assessed property values.

The board has until early December to decide if another bond measure will be on the March 2020 primary election ballot.

The school board meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday inside the district headquarters at 4556 Bernal Ave.

In other business

* Two major school site projects that would use Measure I1 funds are up for review that same night; the trustees are set to approve amendments to replace the portables and renovate the science labs at both Foothill and Amador Valley high schools.

The contracts cover $58,254 at Foothill and $58,191 at Amador, according to district records.

The Division of the State Architect, which approves building plans for all public schools in California, found at Amador that “the positioning of the new building eliminated an open area that could be used to fight fires” and that “of the existing buildings adjacent to the new building ... did not comply with current code for fire department access.” Because of this, a mandatory fire sprinkler is being added to the existing building, increasing costs by $58,191.

Adding a new structure also triggered a similar fire sprinkler requirement from the state at Foothill, where an existing building’s “allowable area now has to meet current code since the new building impacts it.” A new fire sprinkler would bump costs for Foothill construction by $58,254.

The portable replacements and new science labs at both schools will cost around a total of $15.7 million. Construction is set to begin next summer and finish by the end of 2021.

* A new vice principal at Donlon could be named Tuesday evening, according to the agenda for the board’s closed session at 5:30 p.m., prior to the open meeting.

Former vice principal Alex Ramirez left the school in late July to be vice principal at Hart Middle School, where he taught at one point before moving to Donlon. Ramirez’s position has been vacant since then.

The board may also appoint an assistant superintendent of business services on Tuesday; the new job title replaces that of “deputy superintendent of business services,'' a position previously held by Micaela Ochoa, who resigned in late June for a new job at the College of San Mateo.

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2 people like this
Posted by Richard Michael 909-378-5401
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Will anyone make the district comply with law (AB-195 / Elections Code 13119) requiring an impartial ballot statement instead of the sales pitch used for the survey ballot statement?

2 people like this
Posted by highdiver
a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 24, 2019 at 3:56 pm

So, I'm not sure what a hybrid telephone survey is, anyone know? Are the results considered valid? But, yes, Pleasanton has great schools, I've lived here for years. Of course, every school district needs money these days, but just because they need the money doesn't mean a kneejerk reaction to allow more funds.

1 person likes this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 24, 2019 at 4:26 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

I guess I missed out on another survey..."hybrid telephone survey"...I don't know what that is but whatever it is I wasn't included in it. And I looked for the survey on-line and even answered numerous robo-calls so I wouldn't miss out. I hope Kathleen R. weighs in with thoughts on this survey because I usually trust her insights with regard to PUSD.

9 people like this
Posted by Dont Mislead Us
a resident of Old Towne
on Sep 24, 2019 at 4:28 pm

PUSD paid for this service. That means the survey is built with bias to bend the results in a favorable way to their agenda.

"a private consulting group between Aug. 23 and Sept. 6"

This should really read as "an unnamed private consulting group between Aug. 23 and Sept. 6".

Why are we going back to the well after a vote in 2016 ?

Let's invest, let's not squander how money is managed...

11 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 24, 2019 at 4:36 pm

How are those chromebooks holding up, that were purchased with capital improvement bond money?

Maybe they'll use the new bond money on paper cups.

I don't like being fooled twice. No money for you.

2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 24, 2019 at 6:59 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

“Email to web”. Does that mean an invitation to respond online? Seems not to have gone to enough vocal opponents.

“ The district said the quick transactions and low interest rates were helped by their credit rating and the community’s overall stability and growth of assessed property values.” They really don’t earn the credit rating; the community does (stability and assessed values).

Replace the portables . . . wasn’t this supposed to be more permanent structures—modulars? I certainly hope that’s what is meant.

Sad to learn how out of compliance and unsafe the high schools are; the result of years of neglect in deferred maintenance. A problem we are now paying for with bond funds rather than the maintenance funds.

I’ll look for the link to the report.

4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 24, 2019 at 7:08 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

PowerPoint: Web Link

Shocked this isn’t first on the agenda it being of interest to the community as a whole.

7 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 24, 2019 at 7:56 pm


7 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 24, 2019 at 8:33 pm

James Michael is a registered user.


5 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 24, 2019 at 8:56 pm

Question: would you give more of your hard earned money to the district who hasnt built 1 new school with the bond money from the last bond measure?

3 people like this
Posted by Fifty Years Here
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 24, 2019 at 9:33 pm

Fifty Years Here is a registered user.

Our Trustees must do a better job.

5 people like this
Posted by Naveed Khan
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Sep 24, 2019 at 9:57 pm

I remain skeptical of the survey results conducted by the PUSD and results presented by PUSD. It is indeed self serving. No sensible voter would accept that. I really believe the Bond Measure in 2020 would fail after people have really spent time to analyze how previous bond measure money was spent. PUSD must learn to live within budget coming from sales tax, property tax, lottery allocation, city, state and federal government allocation. I am shocked at the School district's propensity to raise money via Bonds.

3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 25, 2019 at 11:49 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I spent some time reviewing the presentation (link above). My takeaways:

Only 26% rated PUSD excellent overall.
6% rated PUSD excellent in their ability to manage their budget.
5% rated PUSD excellent in their management of the recent bond.
From surveys in 2007, 2016, and 2019 there is a drop in confidence in PUSD of 5%. 15% rated it poor. (About 74% somewhat agreed with the proffered statement.)

“To upgrade/construct classrooms and school facilities to: improve access for students with disabilities; accommodate growing student enrollment; support science, technology, engineering, math; improve safety/security; upgrade classroom technology; and, improve traffic/pedestrian safety at schools, shall Pleasanton Unified School District’s measure issuing [SAMPLE A: $150,000,000 /SAMPLE B: $393,000,000] in bonds at legal rates, raising approximately [SAMPLE A: $9,900,000 /SAMPLE B: $26,000,000] annually with rates averaging [SAMPLE A: $20/$100,000 /SAMPLE B: $52/$100,000] of assessed valuation while bonds are outstanding, with an independent oversight committee, audits, and no money for administrators be adopted?”

As always, the statement is vague as to what will really be done with the funding. Also, how did we jump from recent discussions of $120MM to $150MM and then to a whopping $393MM? We still should not be talking about fixing maintenance issues (leaky roofs, plumbing, electrical) with bond dollars.

The presentation includes “expanding classrooms.” This means bigger schools rather than any additional school(s). The board’s adopted promise for elementary enrollment is 700. Currently, three elementary schools exceed 700 (Donlon 757, Fairlands 752, and Walnut Grove 715). Hearst, Lydiksen, Mohr, Valley View, and Vintage Hills are all 50 students or less from hitting 700. And Alisal is at 632. Keep in mind that capacity, even at 700, means there are portables on these campuses counted as permanent space, and has been done for many years. AND no ground has broken for Lydiksen or the best case/worst case scenario for Donlon. NO permanent capacity has been added since we passed the $270MM bond in 2016. Not one square inch.

We are within 47 students of being at capacity at the middle school level. We are well beyond capacity at the two comprehensive high schools, 50 students shy of 5,000 (for schools built for a capacity of roughly 1,800). Adding (?) a technical high school is mentioned. I’m not sure that is the best type of high school to add. I’d like to think the community has a say in that decision.

The presentation mentions a statement that this new bond will not increase taxes. That is just a twist on the lie. Old bonds are expiring—that means the tax burden is $0. The real statement should be: Are you willing to keep paying the old amount (or more if they are going for $393MM)? This is a new tax, and if they are going for the larger amount, it is MORE than we are paying for the $270MM passed in 2016.

Recommendations: “A robust, privately funded campaign effort is strongly recommended to ensure voters understand the need and benefits of a measure.” You bet they will need a robust campaign! Let’s hope it is actually completely truthful information that is presented to ensure “voters understand.”

In the absence of a new school, with regular maintenance and technology expenses coming from bond dollars rather than intended budget sources, and with vague notions of what additional bond dollars will fund, I am a solid NO.

3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 25, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I will ask for the demographics of those surveyed—mostly age ranges (survey says 31% parents, 65% non-parents) and home ownership . . . If they have the data.

3 people like this
Posted by skynet
a resident of Mission Park
on Sep 25, 2019 at 8:13 pm

skynet is a registered user.

I question if the district has earned the right to ask for more money from taxpayers. Consider the following:
-When the district obtained the last bond, they did not have a plan what it was to be spent on.
-They still don't have a plan for how to spend the last bonds monies.
-Work on Foothill's football field was a fiasco.
-Amador parking lot solar project. Enough said.

4 people like this
Posted by Adding to skynet's list
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2019 at 9:14 pm

Also, adding to skynet's excellent list, we can't forget:

- Have more money now than they can possibly know what to do with, but are so incompetent they can't even purchase equipment to replace a simple pump that has been broken for weeks at the swimming pool at the high school
- When they started issuing bonds right after the election, they spent money on chromebooks and Apple Macbooks FIRST instead of anything having to do with facilities
- Lied through their teeth in the last bond election by promising to construct a new elementary school they never intended to build in the first place
- Purchased and installed el cheapo chain link fences to encase schools so they now resemble juvenile detention facilities.
- Purchased and installed fancy looking signs and placed them at the front of the affected schools/juvenile detention facilities to boast about the new el cheapo chain link fences
- Have spent millions on architecture plans for the Lydiksen rebuild but have not yet dug one shovelful of dirt in order to progress to actual construction

OK, the bottom line is that they have nothing to show for the boatloads of bond money we just approved, and now they are asking for more handouts.

How absurd is that?

4 people like this
Posted by Enough
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2019 at 9:26 pm

We all saw the bait and switch tactic used by the District with to get us all to vote for Measure I-1. We lost! The money was not spent on what it was supposed to be spent on. We ALL should have a say on this, not just the parents of school-age kids. Just say NO to the new bond measure. Enough is Enough!

2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 25, 2019 at 11:32 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

To the sky nets, to be fair:
There was a plan; rather vague though.
There is a rough plan for current bond funds.
There have been problems at FHS and AVHS, but I don’t believe bond funds were used. It does speak to a lack of needed skill sets.
They have a list for nearly $900MM more in “needs”.
They have to build a “school” or they cannot issue $35MM in bonds (a savings to taxpayers). Donlon is not ideal, but $35MM isn’t enough for a new site.
Lydiksen bids came in over budget. It never should have been the priority project either.

Otherwise, this has been managed poorly. Some people have left (although I don’t know that it was for the better). But giving then any more money before there is genuine progress with capacity is foolish.

This is nothing more than having capacity to bond us (literally chain us to additional new debt) because they can. Nope!

6 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 25, 2019 at 11:51 pm

Absolutely no

3 people like this
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Sep 26, 2019 at 8:21 am

DKHSK is a registered user.


Just like the last one.


Like this comment
Posted by skynet
a resident of Mission Park
on Sep 26, 2019 at 11:45 am

skynet is a registered user.

Kathleen, its my understanding that the $900 million of "Needs" was assembled by asking the entire district what they "Wanted". Does that sound correct?

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 26, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

skynet, it is.

6 people like this
Posted by Ptown parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2019 at 5:04 pm

Y'all really should be watching the current director of HR. Unbelievable he is currently running the district, seems our current Superintendent is off taking vacation time for the second time in a month, leaving him in charge. You should be asking who is running all the finances in the district. Most importantly, you should start asking about the many huge, unbelievable issues that are coming out of HR, seems he can't run his own department. But the board approved $15,000 for him to go to investigation training. As an admin in another district, I'm shocked to see the current sup and board standing by all that is going on, doing nothing. Maybe the Pleasanton weekly should start doing their own investigations. A large group of parents certainly are.

5 people like this
Posted by Ptown Mom
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 11, 2019 at 7:59 pm

Completely agree with Ptown parent. Have you seen the graphic shared by Foothill PTA about the officers in Pleasanton? I appreciate the work they do to keep our students safe by why is the majority of their work psychiatric holds? Are they psychologists? A police initiated hold is very serious and we have a very high number in Pleasanton. I am appalled that we are not hiring more counselors and instead our superintendent seems more interested in the happenings at schools in China. I don’t know what is happening in the administrative offices but this district is not what it used to be. Are they ever going to fix the math teaching? The only reason our test scores are any good at all is because we pay for tutoring. We pay for private school after school so our kids can be taught because they are not taught at school. And PUSD hires a tutoring store owner to teach other teachers how to teach. Nothing like asking the fox to guard the henhouse. I can’t give this district any more money.

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