Mitigating enrollment growth proved to be the top priority for the Los Altos School District as trustees pursue a November bond measure.
Dave Olson of The PMF Group, a national financial organization that has worked with the district for 20 years, presented financial possibilities to the board at its June 30 meeting. He outlined ways the district could raise the funds – with or without a bond measure – to expand facilities and address the growth problem.
Olson discussed the various funding scenarios of a typical Proposition 39 general obligation bond – which would cost taxpayers $30 per $100,000 of assessed property value. He listed various bond combinations that could yield up to $200 million.
He explained that the district could secure facilities funds through Certificates of Participation, which permit school districts to borrow against their general funds.
“It works well when you don’t have the ability to do a bond measure,” said Randy Kenyon, assistant superintendent for business services. “Usually it’s for small projects – approximately $4 million to $5 million worth of projects.”
Olson clarified what the annual payment schedule would look like if the district borrowed $10 million, $20 million or $30 million through Certificates of Participation. For example, if the district took out $20 million in Certificates of Participation, it would need to repay $1.5 million per year out of its general fund to cover the expense.
No action was taken regarding which method of funding the district would use for its facilities projects.
Kenyon said the district’s facilities requirements total up to $350 million, so it is “imperative” that trustees prioritize projects – which they will continue to do at their July 28 and 30 meetings.
District architect Lisa Gelfand highlighted the types of facilities improvements the district could integrate on its campuses.
She recommended upgrading classrooms by including more whiteboard space on three walls, adding easily rearranged furniture to support different types of learning projects and connecting classrooms to create a more collaborative environment.
She also described the possibility of designing “student-centered” areas by combining libraries, gym and multipurpose space that would be available for a variety of uses.
Gardner Bullis upgrades approved
The board of trustees voted 3-1 to approve an approximately $1.6 million contract with Blach Construction to begin the pilot construction project at Gardner Bullis School this summer. Trustee Steve Taglio cast the dissenting vote and Trustee Pablo Luther was absent.
The total project, estimated at approximately $2.4 million, will realign some buildings at Gardner Bullis, add new classroom furniture and create a student center similar to Gelfand’s description – combining library and multipurpose space. A private donation funded the improvements, which the district will consider a pilot project for future campus renovations.
“Private donations of this size set a precedent that I’m not comfortable with,” Taglio said in an email to the Town Crier. “Having it directed toward the campus that is already viewed as somewhat elitist is also troubling.”