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Guest Opinion: Investing Pleasanton Unified School District property assets for the future of our students

Over the last year, the Pleasanton Unified School District has engaged in a comprehensive facilities master planning process to assess existing property assets and determine needs relating to aging school facilities.

PUSD Board President Mark Miller. (Contributed photo)

In the fall of 2021, the trustees took action to include three district properties in the city's Housing Element plan. This action was taken to leverage existing, underutilized property assets to enhance existing school facilities and ensure future generations of students have access to modern facilities in which to learn, play and grow.

At our request, the city of Pleasanton included the three properties -- district office, a vacant property off of Vineyard Avenue, and a portion of the Donlon school field -- in the city's Housing Element Plan earlier this year. We engaged with various community partners around each of the three properties and received helpful input.

Last week, Superintendent David Haglund requested that one of those properties, the field adjacent to Donlon Elementary School, be removed from the city's Housing Element plan.

By preserving the portion of Donlon field, we hope to make a different kind of investment in the school and the surrounding community.

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To that end, PUSD looks forward to ongoing discussions with the city to build consensus around a plan that would benefit both the school and neighborhood. This could include a joint-use agreement relating to the Donlon field that provides for shared field space that serves our students and families, as well as the neighborhood residents.

At our July 14 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the acquisition of an existing Hacienda Business Park property referred to as the Arroyo Building. This move will allow a majority of district office functions to be centralized in one location, and eliminate anticipated expenses related to modernization of the current facility.

The current district office property at 4665 Bernal Ave. is extremely valuable given the need for housing as well as its proximity to downtown and public transportation. The 7 acres of the existing property being considered for sale, have been assessed by the district's real estate brokers at $31 million to $34 million, compared to the $23.5 million purchase price of the new office space.

The proceeds of the sale of the Bernal property would not only cover the cost of purchasing the new facility and any tenant improvements; the funds would also provide resources to invest in other facility (capital) improvements that would directly benefit PUSD students.

As an added benefit, the Arroyo property hosts leased office space, which presents an additional revenue source yielding an annual return of approximately $1 million.

As fiscal stewards for our students and the broader community, this acquisition is an investment that just makes sense. By preserving approximately 3 acres of the Bernal property, we will pave the way for vital facility improvements at Village High School and space for the growing Pleasanton Virtual Academy.

Village High School students are currently housed in buildings constructed in the 1950s on a campus with significant safety and ADA-compliance issues. We can and must do better for a growing population of students that benefit from a non-traditional school option.

As a community, it is vital that we come together to ensure all Pleasanton students have access to high-quality school facilities, including innovative spaces to learn, play, perform and compete.

Editor's note: Mark Miller is the president of the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees. Miller was first elected to the board in 2014, is a former PUSD parent and current Pleasanton resident.

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Guest Opinion: Investing Pleasanton Unified School District property assets for the future of our students

by Board President Mark Miller /

Uploaded: Mon, Jul 18, 2022, 8:46 pm

Over the last year, the Pleasanton Unified School District has engaged in a comprehensive facilities master planning process to assess existing property assets and determine needs relating to aging school facilities.

In the fall of 2021, the trustees took action to include three district properties in the city's Housing Element plan. This action was taken to leverage existing, underutilized property assets to enhance existing school facilities and ensure future generations of students have access to modern facilities in which to learn, play and grow.

At our request, the city of Pleasanton included the three properties -- district office, a vacant property off of Vineyard Avenue, and a portion of the Donlon school field -- in the city's Housing Element Plan earlier this year. We engaged with various community partners around each of the three properties and received helpful input.

Last week, Superintendent David Haglund requested that one of those properties, the field adjacent to Donlon Elementary School, be removed from the city's Housing Element plan.

By preserving the portion of Donlon field, we hope to make a different kind of investment in the school and the surrounding community.

To that end, PUSD looks forward to ongoing discussions with the city to build consensus around a plan that would benefit both the school and neighborhood. This could include a joint-use agreement relating to the Donlon field that provides for shared field space that serves our students and families, as well as the neighborhood residents.

At our July 14 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the acquisition of an existing Hacienda Business Park property referred to as the Arroyo Building. This move will allow a majority of district office functions to be centralized in one location, and eliminate anticipated expenses related to modernization of the current facility.

The current district office property at 4665 Bernal Ave. is extremely valuable given the need for housing as well as its proximity to downtown and public transportation. The 7 acres of the existing property being considered for sale, have been assessed by the district's real estate brokers at $31 million to $34 million, compared to the $23.5 million purchase price of the new office space.

The proceeds of the sale of the Bernal property would not only cover the cost of purchasing the new facility and any tenant improvements; the funds would also provide resources to invest in other facility (capital) improvements that would directly benefit PUSD students.

As an added benefit, the Arroyo property hosts leased office space, which presents an additional revenue source yielding an annual return of approximately $1 million.

As fiscal stewards for our students and the broader community, this acquisition is an investment that just makes sense. By preserving approximately 3 acres of the Bernal property, we will pave the way for vital facility improvements at Village High School and space for the growing Pleasanton Virtual Academy.

Village High School students are currently housed in buildings constructed in the 1950s on a campus with significant safety and ADA-compliance issues. We can and must do better for a growing population of students that benefit from a non-traditional school option.

As a community, it is vital that we come together to ensure all Pleasanton students have access to high-quality school facilities, including innovative spaces to learn, play, perform and compete.

Editor's note: Mark Miller is the president of the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees. Miller was first elected to the board in 2014, is a former PUSD parent and current Pleasanton resident.

Comments

Frustrated Voter
Registered user
Birdland
on Jul 19, 2022 at 12:05 pm
Frustrated Voter, Birdland
Registered user
on Jul 19, 2022 at 12:05 pm

Respectfully, Trustee Miller, the Donlon field was only “underutilized” because it is and continues to be in terrible condition. Had it been maintained like other school district properties, it would have been used more. Looking forward to the new fence line so the kids can use the field daily. I also hope you will remove that perimeter fencing, which was an unacceptable and unnecessary expense (fiscal stewardship indeed) and a rude gesture to the neighborhood.


Kids Come First?
Registered user
Birdland
on Jul 19, 2022 at 3:31 pm
Kids Come First?, Birdland
Registered user
on Jul 19, 2022 at 3:31 pm

Trustee Miller, have you noted that over the years, some school fields have benefited from careful maintenance more than others?


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 19, 2022 at 6:04 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 19, 2022 at 6:04 pm

This is the first attempt by PUSD to encourage our vote on a $450MM bond, long before Measure I1 is exhausted and without the promised elementary school. Selling the district office is doing nothing for our students. We have gymnasiums at the high schools that need to be rebuilt. Concentrate on a smaller bond for the high schools; deliver on that promise and then we can talk about additional funding.


Lynn Heller
Registered user
Downtown
on Jul 20, 2022 at 10:58 am
Lynn Heller, Downtown
Registered user
on Jul 20, 2022 at 10:58 am

Mark Miller, you are the President of PUSD Board of Trustees, and you stated in this article (8th paragraph) that "the current district office property at 4665 Bernal Ave. is extremely valuable" then why not invest in that same property, already purchased & owned by the school district. (Paid for by a previous Bond)
Simply RE-BUILD A Brand New State of the Art District Office on the current 10 acre district office site? RE-BUILD Village HS, RE-BUILD Horizon HS.
What is the reason behind buying new property simply to build a beautiful district office? Use the land already owned and RE-BUILD the District Office.
The 10 acre Bernal/First St property was purchased for Educational purposes -- use it as such--
"for the future of our students." (as you stated in your Article Title)


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 20, 2022 at 1:30 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 20, 2022 at 1:30 pm

Lynn, while I do not disagree with your thoughts about moving the district office and building/rebuilding on the current property, they are not building a beautiful district office. They are buying an existing building and rehabbing parts of it. Keeping current property and building for the future of our students is the right thing though.


Lynn Heller
Registered user
Downtown
on Jul 20, 2022 at 4:45 pm
Lynn Heller, Downtown
Registered user
on Jul 20, 2022 at 4:45 pm

Thank you Kathleen-- that's good to know and I agree with you -- to keep the district's current property and rehab/rebuild on the existing site.


keeknlinda
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 21, 2022 at 2:13 pm
keeknlinda, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 21, 2022 at 2:13 pm

I don't usually, but I actually watched the last school board meeting as the property sales and purchase were brought before the board. Lynn Heller, please note that a portion of the Bernal site IS proposed for rebuilding Village High and other programs thatwill find a home there. My math skills are admittedly not great, but I still can realize that selling the properties for $31 - $34 million and buying an existing building with lots of bells and whistles already in place for $23.5million yields $7 - $10 million to go towards building, re-building, rehabbing and/or maintenance of other already owned properties.
I strongly urge you to watch that meeting to help you understand. YouTube, channel 29, or on-demand community TV-30 are all available to watch and listen. It could assuage some of your apprehension and angst.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 21, 2022 at 3:59 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 21, 2022 at 3:59 pm

keenlinda, there is a huge bond in the mix, properties on a list for sale, and talk about borrowing from the Sycamore fund. There are also upgrades the property needs before people can move in. There is a possibility the district doesn’t sell for what they hope. Additionally, the proposal is to build a two-story high school for 400 students including Village students that does not suit the neighborhood and moving Horizon and STEAM to Harvest Park which will also take funds.


keeknlinda
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 22, 2022 at 2:07 pm
keeknlinda, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 22, 2022 at 2:07 pm

Kathleen, there is no free ride. The intersection of Bernal and Sunol Blvd/1st Street is where two major arteries intersect. In the design/planning stages is construction of an additional left turn lane to accommodate the traffic coming from east Pleasanton via Sunol to access 680 for commuters.
Across 1st street are 3 2-story business complexes that have been there for several years. They greatly changed the landscape at the time they were built. 1st street has been busy for every one of the 50+years I've lived here. It provides a good line of demarcation between residential and commercial.
The plan, as I heard it explained, is to make sure new structures have the least possible impact for those existing homes that go from 2nd street on up the hill on Abbie. It sounded to me like a good idea to utilize the best of the existing property and getting a logical location for District Offices.
Change is hard to swallow sometimes, as it was when Pleasanton Elementary was closed at that location and District Offices were relocated. My own children attended Pleasanton Elementary, and the youngest will soon be 60 years old.
There are issues regarding the bond that I won't pretend to understand, except to say that's likely to be a pretty hard sell given what little I do now about how previous bond moneies have or have not been used. That's a whole other story, above my pay grade.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 22, 2022 at 2:37 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 22, 2022 at 2:37 pm

Refurbing or rebuilding Village at its current site isn’t wholly unreasonable. But adding a new high school for a total of 400 students at $70MM is unreasonable, particularly when we are not getting an elementary school for 700 students for half that amount. The bond is far too large and needs to concentrate on the practical, not the dreams.


keeknlinda
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 23, 2022 at 1:00 pm
keeknlinda, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 23, 2022 at 1:00 pm

Whether it is high school, middle school, elementary or pre-school, determination should be made based on the number of students who need to be taught, not solely on which is cheaper. A new school for 700 students when there are only 350 or 400 of them is overkill. I believe I heard in the school board meeting that #s of students is trending downward even post-Covid.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 23, 2022 at 2:37 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 23, 2022 at 2:37 pm

So, if the number of students is trending down, despite RHNA numbers going up, why do we need another high school? And why are Donlon and Fairlands sending students to other schools?


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 23, 2022 at 5:47 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jul 23, 2022 at 5:47 pm

PLEASANTON SENIORS PAY THE TAX BURDEN:

David Haglund PUSD, mailed his money bond goals to Pleasanton residential property owners today.

Reading it one quickly realizes SENIOR citizens in Pleasanton will be responsible for seventeen percent of that new property tax. This bond will tax $450.50 of every residential property owner in Pleasanton. SENIORS will have the greatest burden.

Residential property owners in age group 25-44 are 24.60 percent of the population.
Residential property owners in age group 45-64 are 31.30 percent of the population.
Residential property owners in age group 65 older are 10.90 percent of the population.

Pleasanton population group under 25 is 33.30 percent of the population, are not residential property owners. The smallest population group, Pleasanton SENIORS will carry the greatest tax burden for this money bond.


SHale99
Registered user
Village High School
on Jul 25, 2022 at 10:04 am
SHale99, Village High School
Registered user
on Jul 25, 2022 at 10:04 am

Not sure who or where this '400 student new HS' stuff came from. What is approaching reality is Village HS will be knocked down and rebuilt. And most likely using the funds from the acres they sell since voters here seem to say NO a lot.

Perhaps the confusion is Village HS has around 100 students and Pleasanton Virtual has a few hundred more, but they are rarely on campus in mass.

And to those who think Village can be rebuilt while there are students there, are confused on logistics. Those buildings can only be helped by knocking them all down and starting over. Period.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 25, 2022 at 10:34 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 25, 2022 at 10:34 am

SHale99, the voters approved Measure I1, which included $35MM for an elementary school we apparently won’t get. In that event, we were promised the $35MM would not be bonded. That doesn’t look likely either. We did not approve Measure M because of the school and because of the autonomy built into the measure which says they don’t have to do what they say they will, even if they have the money. And $395MM ($792MM to repay with interest—think about that, borrow $395MM, pay back with $397MM in interest?) is too much and on top of Measure I1. That is an additional $490 per $1,000,000 in assessed valuation. They need to clean up the language that still says they don’t have to do what they say and lower the bond to do what they can accomplish in a couple of years (the comprehensive high school gyms, for example, where nearly every student will attend).


SHale99
Registered user
Village High School
on Jul 25, 2022 at 5:44 pm
SHale99, Village High School
Registered user
on Jul 25, 2022 at 5:44 pm

Kathleen: I'm aware of the history. I'm also aware enrollment is down and in that environment nearly impossible to justify a new elementary school (an issue with you). Whether that was part of previous funding is an issue for another day.

What we have here with Village HS is a perfect way to rebuild it and not need voters to give 'permission'. Nearly all the funds would come from selling the remaining acres.

And to those who feel the property won't sell for what has been estimated; well you are quite confused on what a developer would pay for that prime spot.....a lot over estimated.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 25, 2022 at 9:35 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 25, 2022 at 9:35 pm

I’m not opposed to rebuilding Village. The people there saved one of my children at the time. I don’t know that it belongs on that site, but that’s a problem for another discussion.

Tell me, has the district ever told anyone why enrollment is down? Maybe people moved, maybe they put their students in private schools, maybe they put them in other public schools? We should know the reasons—all of the reasons for the supposed missing 700 students. And then we can talk about RHNA numbers the City is facing.


SHale99
Registered user
Village High School
on Jul 26, 2022 at 12:00 pm
SHale99, Village High School
Registered user
on Jul 26, 2022 at 12:00 pm

>>>Tell me, has the district ever told anyone why enrollment is down?

All the reasons you listed and more. Just about every Bay Area school district is in the same 'boat' declining enrollment. Call it covid related or anything else. Simple fact those numbers are down and have been going down for a while.

A few exceptions: Dougherty Valley in San Ramon has INCREASING enrollment, but that was due to a zillion new homes; still SRVUSD district wide is seeing reduced enrollment.

Sorry, where on earth should Village HS be if not where it's at? Inquiring minds (who might work there) are interested.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 26, 2022 at 3:15 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 26, 2022 at 3:15 pm

I can’t say where it could go, but next to potential housing, I’m not sure that works. However, I am open to any ideas, including where it is.

Has the district ever stated where students went: 50 moved out of state, 142 went to private schools, etc., because those who are still here could come back. And then the nearly 6,000 RHNA units will generate students.


SHale99
Registered user
Village High School
on Jul 26, 2022 at 5:42 pm
SHale99, Village High School
Registered user
on Jul 26, 2022 at 5:42 pm

>>> but next to potential housing

wut? show me a school that is not next to or near housing?

Imagine the costs to 'move' Village vs rebuilding? That would be silly for the amount of students we are talking about. Perhaps a 100 onsite with a few hundred virtual and rarely onsite (at the same time).


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 26, 2022 at 6:02 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 26, 2022 at 6:02 pm

No preference on Village.


keeknlinda
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jul 26, 2022 at 6:41 pm
keeknlinda, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jul 26, 2022 at 6:41 pm

Kathleen, where do you think Foothill and Amador High Schools are located? Foothill is smack dab in the middle of housing along Foothill Road! Gatetree Circle homes back up to Amador's football stadium and there are homes across Santa Rita along the front of the school theatre and parking lot!
In my own neck o' the woods, both Valley View and Vintage Hills elementary schools are in the middle of residential neighborhoods, too! For most families moving to town, being near a good school is a HUGE incentive!
And as far as those who have left and "could come back", my goodness, have you missed the news stories about how people are practically leaving California in droves for points east?
Then the RHNA numbers will of necessity be met by many multiple residence housing units instead of the single-family residences we all love and are loath to lose.
You're gonna have to come up with a different argument in order for it to hold water.
I'm not advocating for the bond, just making it clear that to me the proposal for the Bernal Property does seem to make sense.


Frustrated Voter
Registered user
Birdland
on Jul 27, 2022 at 9:24 am
Frustrated Voter, Birdland
Registered user
on Jul 27, 2022 at 9:24 am

In response to the cumulative posts above, my little street has 16 homes. Of the six that have sold over the past five years, every single one brought new students to the district. These mostly are young families and they will have kids in the school system for many years. I think the decrease in enrollment is but a blip and I’d love to see the powers that be plan for the more usual enrollment numbers and not this short-term issue.


A parent
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2022 at 11:57 am
A parent , Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 11:57 am

Maybe instead of building a bigger better Village HS, find out ways to support students at each HS so they don't have to be placed at Village? Better resources for teachers and students instead of shoving students off to continuation school, provide better support from the beginning and we won't have to buy new properties? And the district does not need a new office, that is absolutely ridiculous.


A parent
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2022 at 11:58 am
A parent , Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 11:58 am
SHale99
Registered user
Village High School
on Jul 29, 2022 at 1:27 pm
SHale99, Village High School
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 1:27 pm

>> find out ways to support students at each HS so they don't have to be placed at >Village?

Yeah, that won't work. A big chunk of the percent of kids who do go to such a HS is because they are not able to handle a 'comprehensive' HS; whether it's the amount of kids, number of classes etc etc. For many reasons it is just 'too' much to handle.

Plus, with Village you have other programs there as well. The adult transition classes for an example.

Lastly teachers at continuation HS are a different caliber than those you find in comprehensive HS. they have more training and a lot more patience......

Every district has a continuation site for a reason(s).


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