With the Friday ballot deadline for the Nov. 4 election looming, the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees last week pored over the details of a bond measure designed to improve school facilities.
Janet Mueller, a legal adviser hired by the district, gave a presentation July 28 about the legal complexities of drafting the bond measure’s ballot language. Items on the bond project list, which must be included with the full ballot text, should be specific enough to allow for “meaningful approval and oversight of the bond expenditures,” she noted.
Mueller clarified that a list of particular types of projects is sufficient, and that the items are not required to be site-specific.
The district followed her advice in crafting their draft ballot language, which references all of the items from the district’s Facilities Master Plan. The plan totals approximately $300 million – twice the amount that could be raised by a bond measure.
“Listed projects, repairs, improvements, rehabilitation projects and upgrades will be completed only as feasible, and the listing of projects does not imply a particular prioritization among such improvements,” the draft language states.
The draft later states that because of the final costs of each project, certain projects on the list may be delayed or not completed.
The language also notes that taxpayers would pay $30 per $100,000 of assessed value per parcel – raising $150 million for the district.
Throughout the many special board meetings addressing the bond measure, district trustees have emphasized that their No. 1 priority is dealing with enrollment growth – either by acquiring new property for a 10th school site or expanding their current facilities. All other campus projects would be secondary.
Adding a site
Discussion of a 10th site, in tandem with the city-schools subcommittee meetings on the possibility of a school at Rosita or McKenzie parks, has drawn the ire of many residents, who claim that Los Altos doesn’t have enough park space as it is.
At both special board meetings last week, members of Save Los Altos Parks (SLAP) attended in droves to plead with the district to consider other options for a 10th school site. SLAP members also asked for specific language in the bond ballot statement declaring that the district would not designate parkland for school use.
Trustees also addressed the possibility of adding language that the district bond would “create and/or maintain public-use space.”
In addition to adhering to the legal requirement of forming an independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee to oversee how bond money is spent, the district continues to rely on the expertise of its Facilities Master Plan Advisory Committee.
The committee, currently comprising parents and teachers from each district school, including Bullis Charter School, helped develop the district’s Facilities Master Plan, which outlines all of the district’s facilities needs.
In another effort to appease SLAP members, the district proposed adding community members, such as parks supporters, to the committee in the future.
Members of the committee, who are appointed by the trustees, would provide input and insight into which facilities projects the district should pursue with the bond funds.
Trustee Steve Taglio said the committee meetings would be public and would solicit feedback on facilities projects and the acquisition of a 10th site.
Trustees are scheduled to approve the final language and vote on placing the bond on the November ballot at their Monday board meeting, after the Town Crier’s press deadline.