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Mulling over Measure M

Original post made on Jan 16, 2020

Too soon, too late or just the right time? That is the question Pleasanton voters will face when they decide the fate of a $323 million facilities bond measure for PUSD in the upcoming March 3 primary election.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 16, 2020, 1:11 PM

Comments (39)

Posted by skynet
a resident of Mission Park
on Jan 16, 2020 at 3:51 pm

When PUSD can to us asking for a bond, they said they had a plan to address their facilities needs, but 3 years later $145 million of that bond has not been allocated. Why should be approve over half a billion dollars for more work without a detailed plan? Did PUSD know they would need another half a billion dollars 3 years after passing the last bond? If so, why not ask for it then? or did they not know their facilities were is just disrepair until today? I support our schools, but not without a clear and detailed plan, transparency and proving they will be good stewards of our tax dollars. Not to mention the state will be asking for 15 billion with the next ballot measure, with plans for another 15 billion for the following ballot. A few billion here, and few billion there could add up to real money.

Posted by skynet
a resident of Mission Park
on Jan 16, 2020 at 4:50 pm

Intended to say a third of a billion dollars, not half a billion.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 16, 2020 at 4:58 pm

My thanks to the Pleasanton Weekly and Julia Baum for speaking with me on this topic.

Ahhh, consultants. The "now or never" argument is misleading and creates drama, if not just a soundbite. Admitting the election in November will be a "distraction" is just another way of saying too many voters will show up to choose a president, possibly causing the measure to not hit the 55% threshold.

The $43/$100,000 of assessed valuation does not point out the amounts we are already paying on the $270MM we provided in 2016. The $43/$100,000 in AV is an addition to what we are already paying. It is a new tax (and the 1988 and 1997 bonds expire in about a year, so we are still paying some small amount there as well).

The Amador gym, and many other buildings, are an embarrassment because of continued neglect. Years of it. No money has been set aside for chipped concrete, peeling paint, wood paneling holes, torn carpeting, and a defunct sound system (a 3% reserve, about $6MM, used to be a requirement). That neglect should "tip voters" into asking why is it now taking bond dollars to fix maintenance issues.

It is important for voters to know, as the article mentions, the resolution that supports this new tax clearly states: "the Bond Project List is not a guarantee that the project will be completed, **regardless of whether bond funds are available.**" Despite board member assurances, things within and outside of their control can change that picture with no recourse by voters.

There is time for the district to deliver on its major projects. We should decline providing more until we have roofs repaired and additional capacity for our children.

Posted by Jim Bonner
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 16, 2020 at 7:28 pm


More money!

Never ending desire for MORE MONEY.

Sure, I would like more money too. Everybody needs more money. Everybody LOVES spending money. Its so much fun.

Except...I have my own needs for my own money. My kids need shoes, food, and healthcare.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 16, 2020 at 8:52 pm

Super easy. No on M

No guarantees on funding projects or timelines, no money

Posted by PleasantonMama
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 17, 2020 at 6:56 am

I voted and pushed for the I1 but will not be supporting this measure. We need to be focused on other issues our schools are facing

Posted by Willy
a resident of Old Towne
on Jan 17, 2020 at 9:58 am

I strongly recommend a NO vote on this issue!

Posted by Keith Lam
a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Jan 17, 2020 at 10:42 am

I'm a member of the Citizen's Bond Oversight Committee for the past 3 years and we have been reviewing the bond funds used for I1. Our committee had concluded along with 3rd party auditing, that the board and PUSD is doing what was outlined in the bond.

However, there have been delays due to the robust economy, steel tariffs, and zero or 1 bidder for large construction projects; i.e. the one bid was way over budget so the district had to determine other options, which takes time. Would you pay 2X more for your house remodel you cannot afford just to meet your outside friend's expectations? Probably not. I was joking that we should wait until a downturn, then we can get all the contractors we need, but the bond spending rules do not allow that nor will the public accept more delays.

Bottom line, the I1 funds have been used in line with what was voted on by the public, but not in line with public expectations on construction completion.

If you want to know more, please join us for our next meeting on Jan 22nd at the PUSD offices starting at 5:30pm or better yet join the committee as we have openings.

Link to Bond I1 status here - Web Link

As for the new bond measure, my personal opinion having toured most of the school sites is that we need to do more for our children and need more funds. We should debate priorities with the board but more funding unfortunately is needed. Do I want to pay more property taxes...HECK NO, but will it help sustain our property values and help our children's future...YES.

Posted by Anony
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2020 at 11:29 am

Can someone enlighten me about how we have money for staff raises every year but none to repaint Amador or fix rotting wood? Is it built in to the budget, dipping into maintenance funds? Where is the extra money for raises coming from? I am considering this before I cast my vote. Serious answers only please

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 17, 2020 at 11:34 am

Not going to dispute the delays, but the biggest was Lydiksen, which never should have been the first priority. We are tearing down a school when what we need is capacity.

You are approving bond spending because the language in I1 is just as vague as the new bond language. Vague enough that instead of a new school, which is specifically called out because of the work of five people appealing to the board, it will not be a new school at all, just an add on. I am supporting that plan because we need classrooms—years ago.

As an overseer of $270 in taxpayer funds (and a greater payback obligation ), I expect more than “heck no, but.” The district jumped too soon on this bond. They can wait. We need tangible returns on our investment first.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 17, 2020 at 11:51 am

Anony, the state used to require 3% reserves (about $6MM today) for ongoing maintenance. When the state suspended that requirement, many districts chose to spend the money elsewhere. Budgets being what they are, you push some funding in and money is suddenly available for other things, including raises. There is nearly no money for maintenance currently. Hasn’t been for years. So intentional neglect causes repair costs to escalate and you point to that and say we need bond money. I could dive deeper, but I hope that helps.

Posted by Concerned_Resident
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 17, 2020 at 2:02 pm

Beware folks. This is an eye wash. Not all of the money will go to the Pleasanton Schools. Most of it will to towards paying pension for retired folks. Take a look at the budget. Pleasanton does not have the necessary funds to pay the pensions because it is severely underfunded.

Posted by Grant
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 17, 2020 at 2:19 pm

I’ll vote yes. My kids have been fortunate to be a part of PUSD and coming from another district (less affluent are) there is a stark difference. The reason why home prices remain high here is because of the school district. For anyone that owns a home you are just hurting your own real estate values by not supporting the schools. In other districts you would be spending 10,000+ a year to send your kids to private school for the same level of education. Like any business it takes money to run it. The employees deserve raises and good pay and the facilities need to be updated.

Posted by Rob
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 17, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Grant: This bond is not about the cost of doing business, or good pay for the employees; it's about maintenance, refurbishing, and new construction. But, we are still waiting to see what PUSD has done with the previous bond monies that appear to have been used rather haphazardly. Plus, there is still money fron that last bond that has yet to be allocated. If the schools have so many dilapidated buildings, why hasn't any maintenance been done for those with the money that remains?

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 17, 2020 at 2:53 pm

...........or why did we buy ipads and install fences (where none existed before, solving what problem???) over taking care of existing in your face issues that are in such need of dire attention (i.e. HVAC, electrical, mold, dry rot, etc).

Providing solutions to non-problems over prioritizing funding for real problems says it all.

The longer the buildings stay in disrepair the more emotional toll the administration and consultants can use to justify taking more money from tax payers.

This is absolutely about siphoning and securing money and has zero to do with kids and their educational needs.

.......all that new housing, all that new tax revenue, all that bond money and still we can't fix the legacy issues......even PPIE is now starting to become a maintenance fund vs an educational enrichment fund.

If any of us ran our own finances and homes this way we'd find ourselves on the street.....can't pay to fix the leaky roof; but I got a 72" 4k LCD.....can't upgrade to copper plumbing......but I built a landscaping retaining insulation in the, just compensate it by renting solar panels for the next 20 monthly bill went down.

Posted by Kanan Sundaresan
a resident of Las Positas
on Jan 17, 2020 at 3:09 pm

Really - Why does PUSD need $21.3 million every year going forward? The amount of money collected each year will go up as the property valuations go up.

Tell the truth - who can guarantee that 100% of the 20+ million dollars collected year after year will go towards Pleasanton schools?

Come on - Can someone tell me how much the ""Now or never" consultants were paid to come up with Measure M?

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 17, 2020 at 3:09 pm

We need this debt. Who else is going to give us the money? We are a "wealthy" district. The State of California is not going to do us any favors.

Before voting, everyone who does not currently have an AVHS student should go look at it. It is literally falling apart - one very visible example of the need.

Anyone who runs a business knows that construction and replacement come from capital budgets. Employees and maintenance are paid from operating budgets. Capital budgets are mostly funded by debt, like bonds. Operating budgets are funded through tax revenue. The two expenses cannot mix.

It takes years to plan and construct a building. Having the money available allows PUSD to take the next step and then the next. Nothing happens within three years. If you do not currently have a high school student, you may see results by the time your child gets to high school.

Start now.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 17, 2020 at 3:41 pm

Maintenance is funded from the general fund. Bonds pay capital improvements, adding classrooms for example. This, for me, is not never **and** it is not now. We can look at this when we can house our students in classrooms that have been needed for a generation of children. Current students are being driven by parents across town to schools not anywhere near their homes.

Bonds for some $130MM have yet to be sold; $54MM in bonds recently sold air in a reserve. Give them two years. Show me capacity.

I have the consultant contract. It’s public record, I’ll look for costs. I know the flyers were around $70K, and that may have been the first one (4 page, 3 color, mailed to every home around the holidays).

Posted by Keith Lam
a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Jan 17, 2020 at 3:51 pm

Bond money cannot be used for regular salaries or pensions, per the bond rules and oversight. I split this decision into separate questions:

1. Do we need the money for PUSD capital projects? - Yes, if you don't agree, then go to the Amador gym.

2. Do we need the money now? - Per Kathleen, maybe no as we have not used the current bond funds yet. But looking at a market standpoint, we are in a 10-year boom market, so waiting 1-2 years will take us into a down market, where no one is voting for any bond measures. Statistically, this is what happens in the US Economy (Average 8-10 year boom and then downturn). So this is probably part of the argument from the consultant on "now or never".

2. Do we trust PUSD to use the money effectively - Sounds like many say No. This needs to change and having bond money or no bond money does not matter for this question. Vote the board out if we don't agree with them. This is on us!

3. Are PUSD priorities the same as ours? - This will almost never be Yes for anyone but if you care, show up at meetings, influence the board, vote.

This forum is a good way to get our frustrations out but as Shakespeare says, "..full of sound and fury signifying nothing"

Get involved if you actually care!

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 17, 2020 at 5:47 pm

How many bonds have used “amador gym “ as a reference.....ha, I guarantee it’s been brought up every time......and still not fixed.

No line item projects with quotes and money.

Pusd owes the community specificity if they need money, they don’t get to dictate to the community what level of commitment they get to agree to. We do.

No on M

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 17, 2020 at 8:52 pm

PP, “they don’t get to dictate to the community what level of commitment they get to agree to.” That hits a point I hadn’t thought of and it is very much at the heart of this issue.

Keith, first let me say I appreciate the time you are putting in on the committee. Volunteers and oversight are so important with this amount of funding.

1. Amador’s gym is in as bad a shape as it is, and I’ve been there, because of neglect and no regular maintenance.
2. We don’t know there will be a down market, and I don’t think you get to take money now one that premise and perhaps cripple families with a new tax if the economy takes a dive.
3. I asked every board member to step away from this bond, but with a consultant flashing $$$ and dreams, they did it anyway. In order to vote them out, you need willing candidates to run. And running against incumbents is expensive and difficult to win.

Again, we have an elementary school in this bond because five people showed up to multiple meetings armed with data to prove the need they ignored. And we still aren’t getting an actual school.

Grant, the reason for the excellent reputation of this district is because, first and foremost, the education levels of and importance placed on education by the parents, then the hard work of students, then dedicated staff, then a generous community. I think in that order. That is how you get high home values (also parks and many other amenities). We have provided $270MM already. Not a penny more until we have tangible results.

Posted by urmomz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2020 at 12:38 am

Hey Keith -

Just wanted to say thank you for stepping into the den of anger and vitriol. It's refreshing to get a perspective outside the normal war drums on PW.

Thanks for your service on the committee and for the more objective perspective.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 18, 2020 at 7:42 am

urmomz, I don’t think it’s vitriol. There are real reasons and facts to consider and that, for the most part, is what is being shared. We need informed voters no matter what bubble they end up filling.

Posted by Birdie
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 18, 2020 at 8:53 am

I supported I1 and will support this also, I like PUSD, we spend so much on useless PGE, high level of taxation in this state and also on many subscriptions, ring etc, I will do this for our schools and students and trust PUSD to use this wisely, will campaign for this.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 18, 2020 at 9:11 am

Birdie, liking the district is nice, but does not equate to wise use of funds. The facts show otherwise. When you campaign, please be honest about your reasons.

Posted by Patrick Gannon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2020 at 10:32 am

Community members interested in learning more about progress on Measure I1 and information related to Measure M are invited to join PUSD on January 21 at Amador Valley High or January 27 at the comfort of your own home to learn about school facility improvement updates including:

-Progress on #MeasureI1
-Facilities projects included and tax information on Measure M, PUSD's general obligation bond that will appear on the March 3, 2020 ballot.

Tuesday, January 21
Amador Valley High School Multipurpose Room
1155 Santa Rita Road

Monday, January 27
Live webinar. RSVP:

Posted by alexisthegood
a resident of Mission Park
on Jan 18, 2020 at 10:51 am

Some of our schools are falling apart. If we do not upgrade and modernize them now, our school ratings and children will suffer. The last bond measure was a lot of money - but not enough to cover everything that needs to be done.

If that alone doesn't sway you, just remember that a huge reason why our property values are so high is because of our schools. If the schools go downhill, how many thousands and thousands of dollars will you lose on your home value?

It's an investment in our schools, our kids, and our property values. A triple win.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 18, 2020 at 11:40 am

I already explained why our schools afford us a high housing value. It is not the buildings.

Say something three times to be heard—the district has $270MM, mostly unspent, and many large dollar projects to start, let alone finish. This is not never; it’s just not now.

I am willing to invest, and I have for three bonds. The first two were spaced nine years apart to show progress and promises fulfilled. This one, at three years, is too soon and has not added desperately needed classrooms. Come back in two years.

Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 18, 2020 at 11:54 am


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 18, 2020 at 7:56 pm

Then request commitment on projects before voting to fund. Currently you’re just voting to put money in a bucket

Posted by Jim Bonner
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jan 19, 2020 at 9:21 pm

I'm not impressed by the "invest in the schools to maintain property values" argument at all.

Come on, give me a break. That's always going to be the excuse to push for MORE.

At some point, you have to say no. My kid has a million reasons why he should get a brand new Jeep for his car...the answer is NO. My office manager wants to hire an assistant...the answer is NO.

We've already given a huge amount of bond money to the schools. They need to live within their means, just like the rest of the world.


Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 19, 2020 at 9:37 pm

I agree.
The property value claim is a farce!

Posted by Kiko
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 19, 2020 at 9:53 pm

Whenever you hear..."it's for the kids" or "it will keep your property value high"...then run in the other direction as fast as you can. I will vote no more again forever.

Posted by plebe
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 20, 2020 at 6:28 pm

I wasn't paying attention when Measure I1 passed in 2016. I was a soft NO, but didn't really research it much. Now it's only 3 years later and another bond measure is before us?!? I'm gonna dig into this more. Thanks everyone for the great discussion. Everyone wants our great school to be sustainable indefinitely. Kathleen's reasoning seems sound, some of the pro M responses seem reasonable. Also, I havent seen any vitrol in this post. Just people with disagreements debating. That's what it's all about.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 22, 2020 at 9:48 pm

Make the right vote for yourself, but if I were the district I’d be asking the consultants for a vote guarantee......all neighborhood forum activity points to M getting shot down. And in my opinion, for the right reasons. I hope the district gets the message that requesting funding without committed projects and timelines is a failure on their part to deliver on basic fiscal responsibility vs the community not supporting schools.

If M fails, as it should, it’s not because this community doesn’t want to invest in education, it’s because the district failed to commit to what it wants to invest in.

Posted by plebe
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 22, 2020 at 11:10 pm

I was talking to my neighbor today and he wasn't even aware of Measure M. He thought I was talking about I1 from 2016. When I explained there was a new bond vote in March he hit me with expletives that would make a sailor blush. Something related to PUSD needing bond money because the pension tsunami is draining the general fund of dollars that should to to maintenance (but with more 4-letter words). I was surprised because he's got 3 PUSD kids and is even a big supporter of PPIE.

I'm starting to feel a bit like PUSD trying to shake us parents down. Maybe some valid arguments for Measure M are out there, but I'm having trouble seeing them.

Posted by wow
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2020 at 5:33 am

hey i need some cash for my crack fix,,,er i mean food. Can you fine citizens take out your wallet and hand me some cash for food. LOL
Yep sucker born every minute.

Posted by Jake Waters
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 24, 2020 at 9:14 am

@Kathleen Ruegsegger

Thank you Kathleen so very much for your research and information you have provided. I wasn’t going to vote for the measure just based on principle, but you provided me the specifics of why I am against these measures in the first place. Government would rather have us dumbed down about issues in order to use us (taxpayers) as an ATM for their own failings at planning, preparation, and budgeting. Again Kathleen, good work.

Posted by David
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jan 29, 2020 at 10:08 am

I think the City of Pleasanton is carefully watching the bond vote since they want another bond in the future to build a new fancy civic center with city hall offices. We can’t handle more taxes!!
Unless development can participate in financing public or capital projects in the future ( i.e. CostCo shouldering I680 access improvements) with a financed pay back, we are going nowhere and furthering the divide between have and have nots of who can afford to have a home in Pleasanton.

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