District will not advocate for facilities bond on June ballot

At its Tuesday meeting, San Ramon Valley Unified's Board of Education decided that it would not push for a June facilities bond measure. Citing time concerns, boardmembers said they must take more time to educate residents about the need for such a bond.

"Our last bond measure, in a sense we had a certain advantage, because we had a number of dire needs on a facilities basis. We have some dire needs, but we also have some needs that are hidden right now, things that don't just hit you when you walk on campus," said Board Vice President Ken Mintz. "We're going to need to take some time to make sure we have the right kind of messages to the community."

Although the bond amount has yet to be determined, the district has identified a list of potential modernization and capital projects, including cost-saving projects such as solar panel installation, that amount to more than $299 million across 17 schools. Modernization includes replacement of aging roofs and HVAC systems, expanded digital bandwidth and wireless access, security upgrades and energy efficiency upgrades.

The bond is expected to cost property owners between $20 and $30 per $100,000 assessed valuation and be paid back over 25 years. The facilities bond would be the third such bond passed by San Ramon Valley voters in 14 years. Measure D, a $70 million bond from 1998, will be paid off in 2018 and the $260 million Measure A bond passed in 2002 should be paid off by 2027. The 2002 bond was augmented by over $90 million in state matching funds and over half a billion dollars in developer funds.

Only one resident spoke up about the merits of putting a bond on the June 5 ballot and President Greg Marvel's motion to move the measure to June was met with a resounding no. Although the district's Facilities Advisory Committee advocated for the measure to appear on the June 5 ballot, four board members spoke freely about concerns over the short timeline.

"The more we talked about what getting ready for November looked like, the more it put June out of the question," Board Clerk Rachel Hurd said, leaning toward a Nov. 14, 2012 election. "I think there's a lot of credibility in this district making the case for the need for the bond… and I think we need all of the time that it would take to get ready for November (14) and I'm not even totally 100 percent that November is right."

Boardmembers did not decide whether they would put a facilities bond on the Nov. 14 ballot, but said they district would proceed with education, financial analysis and project prioritizing as if it were. A superintendent's advisory committee will also be formed, with Hurd and Boardmember Denise Jennison, to investigate pressing issues.

The results of a January telephone voter survey by EMC Research found that, of 600 residents interviewed, 55 percent supported a facilities bond at $190 or $260 million. Of those surveyed, women and voters ages 40-64 were the most supportive of the measure. Seventy percent of Democrats would vote for the bond, while 62 percent of parents surveyed agreed with the bond and 51 percent of residents who are not SRVUSD parents would also vote for it. However, 46 percent of survey takers said they would vote for the bond measure's expected cost.

"With the current economy, rising tax aversion and a belief that the schools are already in excellent shape all equal a challenging environment in which to pass a bond measure," EMC's Sara LaBatt said at a recent board workshop. "There is not very much movement in the vote after hearing information. (Resident's) minds may be largely made up on new taxes. Accountability measures and local control are more compelling elements than what the measure will fund."

The Board of Education also briefly discussed the possibility of creating two separate bonds: one that would be voted on by Dougherty Valley residents only and one for the rest of the district. While the board did not come to a conclusion, members agreed that the Dougherty Valley has the most pressing facilities needs as a result of overcrowding.


Like this comment
Posted by Alamo Ron
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 22, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Uh... That would be the November 6th election, not the 14th.

Like this comment
Posted by Wise Owl
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 23, 2012 at 12:43 am

"they must take more time to educate residents about the need for such a bond."

So nice to know we need to be "educated" before a bond measure (tax increase) goes to vote. Really a very condesending attitude if you think about it.

Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 23, 2012 at 6:53 am

The district is clueless. Yet, they think they know best and that the ignorant masses are clueless and need further education on the issues. The schools are broken, and not because of lack of funds.
There is a crack in the dam and water's leaking. Rather than fixing the crack, the district and the teachers union simply keeps asking for more water. Enough already. The school system requires a complete structural audit... top to bottom. They'll find quite a bit of "water" there.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Feb 23, 2012 at 7:21 am

If you state that 70% of Democrats favored the vote why not also state what was the percentage of Republican's in favor of the measure. My guess is that the number would be substantially less. Our schools are exemplary and it takes solid funding to maintain this level of excellence. If you don't want to maintain our schools with adequate funding take your kids and move to Antioch!

Like this comment
Posted by SRVHS Parent
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Feb 23, 2012 at 7:47 am

OMG!! how insulting:
"board members said they must take more time to educate residents about the need for such a bond"... EDUCATE ME about How THEY need OUR money?

"We're going to need to take some time to make sure we have the right kind of messages to the community." OR - how can we con the voters into voting for this...

"The bond is expected to cost property owners between $20 and $30 per $100,000 assessed valuation and be paid back over 25 years"... What the heck, what's another couple hundred bucks on my tax bill, we're just a bunch of 1%ers...

"Board members did not decide whether they would put a facilities bond on the Nov. 14 ballot, but said they district would proceed with education, financial analysis"... OR spend more money on EDUCATING the dumb voters, and analyze how to spend more district money, instead of using that money for the schools - sounds like a plan to me...

Like this comment
Posted by Keith
a resident of Danville
on Feb 23, 2012 at 9:10 am

According to the San Ramon Valley Times 2/23,2012:
"Property owners in the district are already paying for the 20 year $70 Million Measure D passed in 1998, $260 Million measure A passed in 2002 and the $144 parcel tax passed by voters in 2000".

Seems like they need to work on eductaing their students better and forget educating the voters who should not be fooled by their constant money grabbing to cover their overspending and failure to manage budgets.

Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 23, 2012 at 10:30 am

Bill says... "Our schools are exemplary... If you don't want to maintain our schools with adequate funding take your kids and move to Antioch!"
Dear Bill:
Our schools are not exemplary. They're broken. Perhaps you consider them "exemplary" in a state that ranks near the bottom nationally? If you're looking for "exemplary", you need to visit Bentley, The Athenian School, Head Royce, or College Prep to name a few. THOSE are exemplary schools. Our union controlled public schools are far from "exemplary" in a state that is bringing up the rear in terms of public education. Public schools would be well advised to study the models of those private schools mentioned instead of incessantly trying to con the taxpayers for more money. But, of course, that won't happen because it's easier to beg for other peoples money than it is to make the most of what's available. Sad.

Like this comment
Posted by Doug
a resident of Blackhawk
on Feb 23, 2012 at 11:23 am

I agree with the others regarding the arrogance of the statement that the public has to be "educated" in order to learn the alleged merits of this additional tax. This sounds like code for 'we didn't the survey answer we wanted, so we'll amp up a propaganda campaign until we get the desired result'. I anticipate lots of articles trumpeting how the merits of the district (often compared only to other "unified" districts rather than comparable wealthy areas) and other tactics from supporters of this measure which will imply that if one doesn't support the new tax, one doesn't care about the schools.

In these times, the district should make do with what it has, as its taxpayers are doing. Any district in the state could find some way to spend more money, and I think that whatever funds are being spent on this market research (or consultants who will help sell the measure on a future ballot) would have been more wisely allocated to other needs.

For those who may be curious, the salary information for district employees is available on the website which publishes many bay area public employee salaries (such information by law is a public record, so there's no confidentiality problem). Friends from other areas are often surprised that the district pays a PR spokesman $100K a year.

Like this comment
Posted by Louie
a resident of Danville
on Feb 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm

How much is the Superintendent making?

And where are the parent voices for the majority of district students- those who are not trying to elbow their way through the doors of Cal or Stanford? What of the everyday, decent kids who do not have perfect SAT scores?

Any impending ballots should address the absence auto shop, wood shop, metal shop. There are still good and satisfying jobs available in those fields. Good tradespeople can earn a lot more than teachers! I know. I've worked in both.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Feb 24, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Unfortunately, many of the people who are commenting do not understand the connection between excellent schools and property values. The reason why we enjoy high property values is in large part because of the support the community provides for our schools. Aside from giving our children less than what they need to compete in today's global economy, we also destroy why we chose to live here, raise our children here, and provide the same environment and quality of life and education to future homeowners. This concern doesn't automatically happen. It requires homeowners getting off the couch, getting educated and making decisions that affect their children, future homeownners, and our nation.

Like this comment
Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Dear Editor,

Repeated commentary over the years about the linkage of schools and home values needs to be specfifically linked to the education of students and not the creation of facilities ancillary to student/teacher partnerships.

Building industrial solar power generation stations inappropriate to the surrounding neighborhoods and using end-of-life technology does not have any role in the student/teacher partnerships. Clearly, if the argument is to be made for facilities investment that argument must directly relate to requirements serving such student/teacher partnerships and the success of students overall.

In our schools, success is measured by the performance of a minority in advanced programs and funding is applied majorially to such minorities. If we value our schools for the broad attraction of high-value buyers, then we must have a broader offering of successful educational results for all students.

Like this comment
Posted by LC
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Feb 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Did you know that the tuition for one year of high school at Athenian, Bentley, CPS, and Head Royce ranges from $29,000-$32,000 per year? Our public high schools offer vocational training in culinary, sports medicine, early childhood development,etc.,as well as classes for kids heading for community colleges, CSU's, UC's and private schools. Homeowners in Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga,and Piedmont pay much more in parcel taxes and bonds than we do. The quality of local schools is one of the most important factors in keeping property values high. It makes sense for us as a community to support our local public schools. I think my kids have gotten a great education and it has been a great value.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Valley Trails site is poor location for school
By Tim Hunt | 7 comments | 660 views

Matisse into Diebenkorn
By John A. Barry | 11 comments | 354 views