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Pleasanton residents set to decide $395M school bond measure on November ballot

PUSD board unanimously approves of ordering election to help fund facility improvements

The Pleasanton school board is placing a $395 million general obligation bond measure on the Nov. 8 general election ballot following a unanimous vote last week.

The bond would help fund the first tier phase of the Facility Master Plan, which was approved by the board on June 23.

"I consider the decision to move forward with this bond measure as one of the most critical, consequential and important decisions of my tenure on the board," Board Vice President Steve Maher said during last Thursday's meeting. "For me to not vote in support of this bond would be fiscally and morally irresponsible."

He said failure to support the bond will deny current and future Pleasanton Unified School District students the opportunity to learn in modernized, up-to-date facilities just like the other districts in the Tri-Valley.

"We have, to put it really bluntly, substandard gyms," Maher said. "There's an absence of performing art centers for our fantastic musicians and thespians. In fact I had a parent today tell me they went to the Dublin High School campus and lo and behold, beautiful performing arts."

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Pleasanton residents last voted to pass a facilities bond in 2016, the $270 million Measure I1, which covered about one third of the overall $856 million identified facilities improvement needs. Since Measure I1 passed, and another bond measure failed in 2020, PUSD staff have been working on a Facility Master Plan update that would separate the facility improvements of all 15 school sites into a two-tier system to address areas of high priority first.

Tier 1 will prioritize funding for the gym and theater constructions at both Amador Valley and Foothill high schools as well as new classrooms at Vintage Hills Elementary. The second tier will focus on deferred maintenance, restructuring of the visual performing arts in high schools, cafeteria and air conditioning and heating equipment.

The approved Nov. 8 bond will utilize a tax rate of $49 per $100,000 of assessed value for Pleasanton property owners to fund that first tier round of projects. The second tier would be funded through State Office of Public School Construction funds, the sale of the district office, state or local funding, or saved money from other construction bids, according to district staff.

Despite the bond receiving unanimous approval, several concerns arose during Thursday's meeting such as Trustee Kelly Mokashi touching on the promise of a 10th elementary school in Measure I1. She said her main question was how the board was going to rebuild the trust with voters after scrapping that project.

"That does have to be addressed because voters will be asking about that and we need to have a solid response to that," Mokashi said.

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Board President Mark Miller addressed that topic saying that he thinks it's a cop out to suggest that the district can't spend money wisely because it didn't build a 10th elementary school.

"This district had a Measure I1 and spent the money for I1 with the most high integrity you could possibly do," Miller said. "We have honored every promise that we had made including the promise to not spend the $35 million on an elementary school if we decided not to move forward with it; that is the promise we made."

He said that declining enrollment and additional construction costs added to the decision to not move forward with a 10th elementary school, a decision he said was the right thing to do.

"No rational person would make a decision at this point to spend $48 (million) or $60 million to build a new elementary school when already we have far fewer students in the 700 per elementary school when we do our rezoning," Miller said.

Another concern Mokashi and a few public commenters spoke out on was the Amador Theater rebuild project being something that should have been reconsidered to be renovated rather than completely torn down.

Former student trustee Saachi Bhayani said during public comment that the board should renovate the historic theater rather than spending the money to completely rebuild the theater.

She added that when the board attempted to pass the $323 million Measure M bond in the March 2020 primary election, the district was quoted for $5 million for the theater rebuild and now that it is a much higher cost, the plan should change too. Measure M earned majority support from voters but failed to clear the 55% threshold required of school facility bond measures.

"Construction escalations don't justify a seven times increase, so why don't we just renovate it and save taxpayer money," Bhayani said. "Due to the upcoming recession and rising construction costs, I think it's best that we make sure that we lower the cost for our taxpayers to ensure that this bond gets passed."

Miller said that it is possible that the board decides later on to renovate the Amador Theater rather than rebuilding it because of the fact that it is one scenario out of several laid out by the district.

Bhayani also spoke on the Amador gym, which several public commenters have expressed concerns about its deteriorating condition over the course of the Facility Master Plan discussion these past few months.

Jaiden Reilly, a recent Amador graduate and volleyball player, said her season was postponed due to the pandemic and forced the team to play during the rainy season, which was an issue due to the cracks in the roof that let water inside the gym.

"It got really unsafe," Reilly said. "We had to take frequent breaks and pauses during games playing other schools. We had a lot of falls, a lot of rolled ankles."

Bhayani added to Mokashi's previous sentiment of voters not trusting the district saying that the board should have invested in addressing the gym a long time ago.

Trustee Joan Laursen commented on the Amador gym saying that it was supposed to be included in Measure I1 but it got taken out because the board was concerned about whether the bond would pass or not.

Kathleen Ruegsegger, a former board trustee in the 1990s, also spoke out about her general concerns about the bond touching on not just the theater rebuild and the elementary school that was promised, but also on how she felt the issuing of the bond was being rushed.

"You are voting on this bond roughly two weeks before it's due to the county," Ruegsegger said. "You are voting while parents are enjoying their summer and likely not paying attention to your actions."

She said the district should build the elementary school that was promised and use smaller bonds to address the high school gyms before asking voters to trust the board again with another bond.

However, Miller and the rest of the board still showed overall support for the bond and all of them said that it is important to invest in these improvements for the sake of the students.

"We've only passed one bond measure in 25 years and I know that we're living in very difficult times right now," Trustee Mary Jo Carreon said. "There are many things that we cannot control. We can't control COVID, we can't control politics. But you know what we can control? We can control what happens in our town. We can make a difference in the lives of our students by working together and passing this bond."

District staff must now submit the resolution to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office and the clerk of the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 12. Following that, staff are planning to develop an implementation plan that will go into more detail on project and construction management as well as other planning regarding the phasing of the Facility Master Plan.

The bond project list includes: the construction of elementary classrooms to support statewide expansion of transitional kindergarten; high school visual and performing arts centers; new and upgraded athletic facilities; updated plumbing to support safe drinking water; and site improvements for students with disabilities.

After re-evaluating two tier 1 projects, the funding for transitional kindergarten classrooms at Donlon and Fairlands elementary schools will be included in Measure I1.

Other projects covered in Measure I1 are the rebuilding of Lydiksen Elementary School and new science classroom buildings at Amador Valley and Foothill High School and at Hart Middle School which is currently slated for completion in fall 2022.

Measure I1 also began to address roofing and HVAC repair and replacements as well as making safety upgrades and providing updated classroom technology and infrastructure.

The official Nov. 8 bond measure ballot statement will read:

"PLEASANTON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT QUALITY AND SAFE EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES MEASURE. To continue replacing/modernizing deteriorating plumbing, roofs, electrical/HVAC systems, classrooms, science labs, performing arts, physical education facilities/spaces, and alternative high school facilities; constructing career technical/early childhood education classrooms; making safety/access improvements for students with disabilities; shall Pleasanton Unified School District's measure authorizing $395,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, levying approximately $49 per $100,000 of assessed valuation ($26,000,000 annually) while bonds are outstanding, be adopted, requiring audits/oversight?"

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Pleasanton residents set to decide $395M school bond measure on November ballot

PUSD board unanimously approves of ordering election to help fund facility improvements

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Aug 1, 2022, 5:38 pm

The Pleasanton school board is placing a $395 million general obligation bond measure on the Nov. 8 general election ballot following a unanimous vote last week.

The bond would help fund the first tier phase of the Facility Master Plan, which was approved by the board on June 23.

"I consider the decision to move forward with this bond measure as one of the most critical, consequential and important decisions of my tenure on the board," Board Vice President Steve Maher said during last Thursday's meeting. "For me to not vote in support of this bond would be fiscally and morally irresponsible."

He said failure to support the bond will deny current and future Pleasanton Unified School District students the opportunity to learn in modernized, up-to-date facilities just like the other districts in the Tri-Valley.

"We have, to put it really bluntly, substandard gyms," Maher said. "There's an absence of performing art centers for our fantastic musicians and thespians. In fact I had a parent today tell me they went to the Dublin High School campus and lo and behold, beautiful performing arts."

Pleasanton residents last voted to pass a facilities bond in 2016, the $270 million Measure I1, which covered about one third of the overall $856 million identified facilities improvement needs. Since Measure I1 passed, and another bond measure failed in 2020, PUSD staff have been working on a Facility Master Plan update that would separate the facility improvements of all 15 school sites into a two-tier system to address areas of high priority first.

Tier 1 will prioritize funding for the gym and theater constructions at both Amador Valley and Foothill high schools as well as new classrooms at Vintage Hills Elementary. The second tier will focus on deferred maintenance, restructuring of the visual performing arts in high schools, cafeteria and air conditioning and heating equipment.

The approved Nov. 8 bond will utilize a tax rate of $49 per $100,000 of assessed value for Pleasanton property owners to fund that first tier round of projects. The second tier would be funded through State Office of Public School Construction funds, the sale of the district office, state or local funding, or saved money from other construction bids, according to district staff.

Despite the bond receiving unanimous approval, several concerns arose during Thursday's meeting such as Trustee Kelly Mokashi touching on the promise of a 10th elementary school in Measure I1. She said her main question was how the board was going to rebuild the trust with voters after scrapping that project.

"That does have to be addressed because voters will be asking about that and we need to have a solid response to that," Mokashi said.

Board President Mark Miller addressed that topic saying that he thinks it's a cop out to suggest that the district can't spend money wisely because it didn't build a 10th elementary school.

"This district had a Measure I1 and spent the money for I1 with the most high integrity you could possibly do," Miller said. "We have honored every promise that we had made including the promise to not spend the $35 million on an elementary school if we decided not to move forward with it; that is the promise we made."

He said that declining enrollment and additional construction costs added to the decision to not move forward with a 10th elementary school, a decision he said was the right thing to do.

"No rational person would make a decision at this point to spend $48 (million) or $60 million to build a new elementary school when already we have far fewer students in the 700 per elementary school when we do our rezoning," Miller said.

Another concern Mokashi and a few public commenters spoke out on was the Amador Theater rebuild project being something that should have been reconsidered to be renovated rather than completely torn down.

Former student trustee Saachi Bhayani said during public comment that the board should renovate the historic theater rather than spending the money to completely rebuild the theater.

She added that when the board attempted to pass the $323 million Measure M bond in the March 2020 primary election, the district was quoted for $5 million for the theater rebuild and now that it is a much higher cost, the plan should change too. Measure M earned majority support from voters but failed to clear the 55% threshold required of school facility bond measures.

"Construction escalations don't justify a seven times increase, so why don't we just renovate it and save taxpayer money," Bhayani said. "Due to the upcoming recession and rising construction costs, I think it's best that we make sure that we lower the cost for our taxpayers to ensure that this bond gets passed."

Miller said that it is possible that the board decides later on to renovate the Amador Theater rather than rebuilding it because of the fact that it is one scenario out of several laid out by the district.

Bhayani also spoke on the Amador gym, which several public commenters have expressed concerns about its deteriorating condition over the course of the Facility Master Plan discussion these past few months.

Jaiden Reilly, a recent Amador graduate and volleyball player, said her season was postponed due to the pandemic and forced the team to play during the rainy season, which was an issue due to the cracks in the roof that let water inside the gym.

"It got really unsafe," Reilly said. "We had to take frequent breaks and pauses during games playing other schools. We had a lot of falls, a lot of rolled ankles."

Bhayani added to Mokashi's previous sentiment of voters not trusting the district saying that the board should have invested in addressing the gym a long time ago.

Trustee Joan Laursen commented on the Amador gym saying that it was supposed to be included in Measure I1 but it got taken out because the board was concerned about whether the bond would pass or not.

Kathleen Ruegsegger, a former board trustee in the 1990s, also spoke out about her general concerns about the bond touching on not just the theater rebuild and the elementary school that was promised, but also on how she felt the issuing of the bond was being rushed.

"You are voting on this bond roughly two weeks before it's due to the county," Ruegsegger said. "You are voting while parents are enjoying their summer and likely not paying attention to your actions."

She said the district should build the elementary school that was promised and use smaller bonds to address the high school gyms before asking voters to trust the board again with another bond.

However, Miller and the rest of the board still showed overall support for the bond and all of them said that it is important to invest in these improvements for the sake of the students.

"We've only passed one bond measure in 25 years and I know that we're living in very difficult times right now," Trustee Mary Jo Carreon said. "There are many things that we cannot control. We can't control COVID, we can't control politics. But you know what we can control? We can control what happens in our town. We can make a difference in the lives of our students by working together and passing this bond."

District staff must now submit the resolution to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office and the clerk of the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 12. Following that, staff are planning to develop an implementation plan that will go into more detail on project and construction management as well as other planning regarding the phasing of the Facility Master Plan.

The bond project list includes: the construction of elementary classrooms to support statewide expansion of transitional kindergarten; high school visual and performing arts centers; new and upgraded athletic facilities; updated plumbing to support safe drinking water; and site improvements for students with disabilities.

After re-evaluating two tier 1 projects, the funding for transitional kindergarten classrooms at Donlon and Fairlands elementary schools will be included in Measure I1.

Other projects covered in Measure I1 are the rebuilding of Lydiksen Elementary School and new science classroom buildings at Amador Valley and Foothill High School and at Hart Middle School which is currently slated for completion in fall 2022.

Measure I1 also began to address roofing and HVAC repair and replacements as well as making safety upgrades and providing updated classroom technology and infrastructure.

The official Nov. 8 bond measure ballot statement will read:

"PLEASANTON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT QUALITY AND SAFE EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES MEASURE. To continue replacing/modernizing deteriorating plumbing, roofs, electrical/HVAC systems, classrooms, science labs, performing arts, physical education facilities/spaces, and alternative high school facilities; constructing career technical/early childhood education classrooms; making safety/access improvements for students with disabilities; shall Pleasanton Unified School District's measure authorizing $395,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, levying approximately $49 per $100,000 of assessed valuation ($26,000,000 annually) while bonds are outstanding, be adopted, requiring audits/oversight?"

Comments

Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 1, 2022 at 7:31 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 7:31 pm

To the following PUSD Board of Trustees:
Mark Miller, Steve Maher, Mary Jo Carreon, Kelly Mokashi, and Joan Laursen.

Why are you so adamant in stuffing this $400 tax increase down the throats of every senior citizen in Pleasanton?

This bond measure will force senior citizens of Pleasanton to pay 25% of this bond measure. Seniors are the smallest voting group in Pleasanton, why should the senior citizens carry this load?

This bond measure will force senior citizens out of their homes, they cannot afford this large sum of money added to their property tax bills for the rest of their life's.

I Challange each and every one of you trustees to respond to my comment, right here on this forum for all of Pleasanton voter to see, read, and reply back to you. If you do not respond here, we all will know you all are nothing more than a group of money wasting cowards.

Get on here, defend your unanimous vote to place this bond measure on the November ballot.


[email protected]
Registered user
Birdland
on Aug 1, 2022 at 7:52 pm
[email protected], Birdland
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 7:52 pm

If you enjoy your high re-sale value of your homes, voting for this School Bond is a must. Interest in buying in Pleasanton is strongly linked to the strong academic successes of Pleasanton schools and its college bound students. Robust educational opportunities and after school programs promotes athletics, the arts, social awareness, volunteerism and increases safety in the community. Support educational bonds and taxes.


Willy
Registered user
Old Towne
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:27 am
Willy, Old Towne
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:27 am

Another move to change the character of Pleasanton. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND A NO VOTE ON THIS BOND ISSUE!


Barbara Costello
Registered user
Highland Oaks
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:01 am
Barbara Costello, Highland Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:01 am

No on this bond measure. The PUSD is once again trying to ram through a boondoggle bond measure when enrollment in Pleasanton schools is DECLINING! I know they see a lot of new homeowners in town who paid over-inflated prices for their houses and they think they can soak everyone with new taxes. This is just a money grab by a school board who has no transparency and who still has money left from the 2016 bond measure. This is a "get it while we can" grab. No, no and No again.


Stephanie
Registered user
Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:41 am
Stephanie , Pleasanton Valley
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:41 am

Can someone help me understand, please. We have lived here for 8 years, previously my 4 children (army brats) have attended 5 different school districts (12 different school buildings) in 3 separate states. One of these states with ZERO state income tax! I can’t understand the accounting here. With rural landscapes, my children were bussed to and from beautiful schools. (Well maybe not so beautiful when we attended a federal school on post). No busses here, obviously not needed…UNLESS with open enrollment your 2nd grader can’t attend Walnut Grove (2 blocks away) and the district places them in Lydiksen 2 miles away. After complaining that this child would be riding bikes with his brothers at Harvest Park, we made to Alisal. Phew!
But more Never have I had to pay out of pocket for athletics that supported the name of the school. This is the most confusing.
With the highest property values in the country how does our current budget not work. And why is standard maintenance (roofing) not calculated in this budget?
I’m concerned we’ll build these new structures, or make repairs just for new roof leaks in 30 years.
Is it just the California way… “more taxes” when we can’t budget appropriately?


Mr. Julius
Registered user
Downtown
on Aug 2, 2022 at 12:31 pm
Mr. Julius, Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 12:31 pm

What's wrong with remodeling the current gyms? And why build a new gym because of a few leaks? Roofs can be repaired or replaced.

I'd like to see a table or Excel spreadsheet with line by line costs for every proposed project. Does this contain super expensive, top-of-the-line energy retrofits? Unneeded. Paint the rooftops white to reflect the heat! (Dr. Bill Wattenberg suggestion, former Lawrence Livermore Labs scientist.)

They could have given us two or three options, but it sounds like some people have Dublin High envy.


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 2, 2022 at 12:47 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 12:47 pm

Stephanie - We have never had children in PUSD schools.
However, we have donated hundreds of dollars to PPIE.

The PUSD board know that people will provide monies to numerous programs, they as a board have ignored. They turn their back on this, encourage private donations. It allows them to throw the money around elsewhere.

There has never been professional budgeting in this school district.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Aug 2, 2022 at 12:55 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 12:55 pm

This is definitely a money grab and with only 50% in favor (of a very small survey sampling). Many of the items, like a new non-traditional high school, were not supported by 76%, but still made it into the bond. Tearing down AVHS’s theater rather than renovate—$35MM vs $5MM? Deferred maintenance (roofing, HVAC, etc.) should be taken from the general fund, but why do that when you can slip it into a bond?


SHale99
Registered user
Village High School
on Aug 2, 2022 at 1:50 pm
SHale99, Village High School
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 1:50 pm

>>> like a new non-traditional high school

Please be so kind to show where this is hiding in the new bond request?

As far as I know Village is slated to be rebuilt, but lucky for it the funds aren't before the voters as they will use funds from the selling of most of the acres of the current site.

Or is this continued confusion on the 'new hs for 400 students'; which as pointed out wasn't the case.


PaulN
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2022 at 3:43 pm
PaulN, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 3:43 pm

It would be nice if the district would find a way to fund an appropriate teaching with technology coordinator or individual who would be responsible for ensuring that teachers are trained on how to use the technology that's currently in their classroom by virtue of funding from the last past bond measure.

There's been a lot of site improvements made to the facilities and a lot of technology upgrades all afforded by the last bond which was passed. However putting technology in the classroom without offering teachers training on it not only as a piece of technology but also as a pedagogical tool is imperative. Currently the district has no staff designated with this task. This makes it very difficult for the true value of the investment and the efficacy of the tools to be realized. The lack of the districts action on this issue makes me concerned about future tech purchases and any any bond measures.

- PUSD Site Technology Specialist


KathleenRuegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:50 pm
KathleenRuegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:50 pm

New Educational Options Center--last page, last line, $70MM in two phases: Web Link

This is not just Village for $70MM--it's for 400 students.


KathleenRuegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:08 pm
KathleenRuegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:08 pm

Here is one presentation on the Educational Options Center: Web Link

$70MM cannot be for 100 students, and I did not hear that at the last board meeting.


SHale99
Registered user
Village High School
on Aug 3, 2022 at 11:34 am
SHale99, Village High School
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2022 at 11:34 am

>>New Educational Options Center--last page

Believe you are reading that wrong. The current 'plan' is to rebuild Village on the acreage left over from the 'future' sales proceeds of the district property.

There are 'around' 100 HS kids on campus and a few hundred Pleasanton Virtual Academy students, who are never all on campus at same time. In fact, they are rarely there in any numbers. That is most likely where the phantom 400 student number came from.

The first domino has fallen with the purchase contract of the new district office building(s). It is in escrow and then remodel/repairs etc. Next domino in line is to sell the district acres and figure out where/what to do with the students when Village is demolished & rebuilt. All this is no less than a year or 2 away. Not a moment too soon....


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Aug 3, 2022 at 12:51 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2022 at 12:51 pm

The photos of the facility and $70MM is too much for the need of 100, or even 300 more sometime students. I can support a rebuild, but not out of huge bond padded with unbelievable costs.


SHale99
Registered user
Village High School
on Aug 3, 2022 at 1:39 pm
SHale99, Village High School
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2022 at 1:39 pm

>>The photos of the facility and $70MM is too much for the need of 100,

One photo was of an existing school as an 'example' of what a new Village could be. As far as costs: construction costs are construction costs.

No matter: voters will have no say. Or they COULD have a say via board meetings....they just won't have a vote since the funds are scheduled to come from the selling of most of the current acres and what is left will be where Village will be built (after being demolished).

Anybody who has been on campus would agree Village needs to be dealt with and it would be cost prohibitive to try to 'fix' or 'repair' the current buildings.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Aug 3, 2022 at 4:09 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2022 at 4:09 pm

Agreed on your last sentence. The example is what the council is shooting for. I’m not sure about the assertion that fund will come from the existing land. The sale of the existing acres of the DO will pay for the acquisition of the “new” DO—repay the COPS. The $70MM for this educational facility is in the bond.


SHale99
Registered user
Village High School
on Aug 3, 2022 at 5:36 pm
SHale99, Village High School
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2022 at 5:36 pm

>>Agreed on your last sentence

Perfect. As to the rest going to have to wait and see. The bond could fail and the funds from the sale WILL fund the new Village buildings. AT least that doesn't require your vote... :)


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Aug 3, 2022 at 9:40 pm
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2022 at 9:40 pm

I wouldn’t vote against a smaller bond for Village and high school gyms, just not $395MM.


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