The Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees approved the first reading of draft resolution language for a potential new local bond measure, though the final bond amount remains undecided after the special facilities workshop Tuesday night.
The one-hour public meeting before the regular board meeting opened with updates on PUSD's 2016 Measure I1 facilities bond, state Proposition 39 funding and other projects like Harvest Park Middle School's library rebuild, the planned portable replacements and new science classrooms at Hart Middle and Foothill and Amador Valley high schools, and the Lydiksen Elementary modernization.
The trustees approved a $52,595 pre-construction contract for the Lydiksen renovation project during their meeting after the workshop, but there were few notable changes to the other reviewed projects since most were either on track or completed. The work included fire alarm, HVAC and electrical system upgrades, and new roofing and fencing at all 15 PUSD campuses.
Contractor bids for the Harvest Park library rebuild were also due Tuesday; the library was damaged by a fire in July 2018. Since then a portable building on campus has served as a temporary library. The school board is expected to approve an agreement at its Nov. 12 meeting; construction would start this winter and wrap up by summer 2020.
A list of projects estimated at $393 million total that would be partly or entirely covered under a potential new bond measure was shared for the first time Tuesday evening.
Revenue from the bond would pay for covered lunch shelters and improvements to drop-off and pick-up zones at various schools, replacement of high school gyms, and either a future career-tech high school or STEM expansion.
PUSD has been considering placing a new bond measure on the March 2020 primary election ballot that would maintain the existing tax rate when two older bond measures expire next year. The $270 million Measure I1 bond approved by Pleasanton voters in 2016 taxes properties within the district at a rate of $49 per $100,000 of assessed value.
The originally suggested rate for a new bond measure was about $120 million, but a recent survey polled more than 600 likely voters about two possible amounts: $150 million and $393 million. The survey found about 55% of participants supported a new bond measure 55% is the threshold needed for passage in an election.
Attendees told staff that school playfields and gyms "should not be overlooked ... when identifying future projects that will be funded by the bond." Kelly French, a member of the Amador Boosters Board, said that Foothill and Amador water polo "has suffered because it seems like constant issues with the pools."
"Currently the Amador water heater is out so the kids are getting in the water at 60 degrees," French said. "There was problems at both schools within the week, within the last month, where their tournament was at risk because of chlorine issues at both pools."
A final reading and approval of the bond resolution is scheduled to take place at the next board meeting on Nov. 12.
In other business
* Following the workshop, a large crowd of teachers, students and supporters filled the board room at the start of the board meeting to ask the administration to support better faculty pay and campus resources.
Carrying signs with slogans like "Invest in the best," dozens of people gathered inside to advocate for increased wages; the district and the teachers union are currently in the midst of contract negotiations.
Speakers during the public comment portion also said that the "significantly better pay" for substitute teachers at school districts in Dublin, Fremont, Livermore and Castro Valley has a ripple effect within PUSD. They said last-minute cancellations to take a higher paying job in one of those districts instead puts a strain on tenured staff that need to find another substitute and that "it's ultimately the kids who suffer."
School board meeting procedures prohibited the board from responding to the attendees, since the item wasn't on the agenda.
* An update on a potential lease-leaseback agreement between PUSD and a contractor concerning pre-construction work for modernization plans at Lydiksen was given that night. The district approved the lease-leaseback option during summer to give them an advantage when selecting a contractor for construction projects like the Lydiksen rebuild, which had only received one over budget bid at that point.
Public school districts are traditionally required to award the lowest qualified bidder, but a lease-leaseback gives them room to negotiate more similarly to private sector parties, such as requesting referrals from other districts.
Lease-leasebacks can attract contractors who might otherwise avoid public requests for proposals, which require more extensive preparation to compete for a contract. PUSD would lease the property to the builder and make payments to the contractor to pay for their fees, rather than paying for the entire project upfront. After the work is done, the builder leases the site back to the district and the lease is done once the final payment is made.
Some of the pre-planning services to be provided as part of the $52,595 contract with Robert A. Bothman Construction of Santa Clara include site observations, a utility survey, and construction project management and field operations teams to "facilitate an early jump on long lead item procurement, submittals and help the teams gain valuable early knowledge of the project to allow them to hit the ground running into construction."
The trustees are expected to vote on the contract next month.
* The district's Kids Clubs, plus STEAM Preschool and Horizon Early Education Center programs, shared their progress over the past year during a staff presentation Tuesday. All the programs serve approximately 700 students at PUSD with a staff of 80 to 100, depending on the time of year. Revenue from all 10 programs totaled $4.49 million for fiscal year 2018-19.
Several Kids Clubs opened at Lydiksen, Mohr and Fairlands elementary schools last year, for a total of eight Kids Clubs programs at PUSD. According to a recent National AfterSchool Association survey, the program has been well received, partly because children said they "get help with homework and it gets done," and also for "how nice the teachers are and how well they treat us."
Kids Club was also appreciated by parents, who lauded the program for "the staff's engagement and dedication to their students" and overall professionalism, as well as "knowing that my child is safe, cared for, nurtured, and supported."
Staff members running Kids Club said they "really enjoy being with the children and creating strong relationships with them and their families" and also "like how we really work to provide the best possible place for kids to come after school and make them feel welcomed and happy."
Staff reported that the STEAM Preschool, which opened in 2016 and uses the STEAM concepts (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) to teach children ages 3 to kindergarten, "has sustained the program with enrollment for the past two years." Horizon Early Education Center, which offers "a style of care for infants and toddlers that best matches their inborn capacities and needs," has also done well since it was implemented in August 2018. Currently there are 18 toddlers and infants enrolled in Horizon Early Education, and there is also a waiting list for the program.
* An application for new construction dollars from the state to build new career technical facilities at Foothill and Amador Valley high schools was unanimously approved by the Trustees.
Glen Sparks, director of Pleasanton Adult & Career Education, approached the board earlier this month for permission to seek out $12 million in matching Proposition 51 funds from the state to build computer science, engineering and biomedical science labs for both campuses. Construction on the facilities at both schools would start next summer or fall.
* A $56,800 contract to pay for 31 days of mariachi music instruction was also approved on Tuesday.
Under the agreement, San Jose-based Mariachi Academy of Music will provide instruction through May 2020 for the trumpet, violin, guitar, and guitarron mexicano, a Mexican six-stringed acoustic bass traditionally played in mariachi bands.
Vocal instruction is also included in the deal, which is funded through Local Control and Accountability Plan Supplemental Funding and private donations.