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MVLA officials play down cost of bond measure

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees voted Feb. 5 to place a $295 million bond measure on the June ballot to fund its Facilities Master Plan, leaving residents to wonder how much it could cost them if it passes.

Anticipating the question, district officials were armed with an answer: Homeowners’ contribution will be based on the assessed value of their homes.

Cynthia Greaves, district communications manager, told the Town Crier that the assessed value of a home is based on the original purchase price, usually much lower than its current market value.

“For example, a 30-year homeowner in Los Altos might live in a home that is worth $2.5 million today but has an assessed value of $300,000,” she said. “The price of the bond would be based on the $300,000 assessed value, not the $2.5 million market value.”

Greaves noted that the cost of the bond to homeowners would not exceed $30 per $100,000 of assessed value annually.

The bond measure, which will appear on the June 5 Statewide Direct Primary Election ballot, will require approval from at least 55 percent of voters to pass. The 55 percent benchmark was set by Proposition 39, passed in 2000 as the threshold for approval for local school facility bond measures. Proposition 39 also established strict fiscal accountability requirements, including independent citizens’ oversight, annual audits and a project list detailing the use of all funds.

According to Greaves, if the bond measure passes, MVLA officials will closely follow the guidelines of Proposition 39 to ensure that every penny stays local and is spent as promised to improve high schools for local students.

The bond will appear on the June ballot rather than the November General Election ballot, Greaves said, because the need for new or updated facilities at district high schools is urgent and community support is strong.

“We wanted to place a bond measure on the first ballot available to us,” she said. “Waiting will only delay a solution and increase the cost. June was the next opportunity available and, based on what we heard from our community, we felt it was the right decision for current and future generations of local students.”

Bond money would enable the district to fund new or expanded performing arts and athletic facilities, high-tech classrooms and labs, food services and dining areas, and student unions. The plan also directs an optional $30 million budget for additional classrooms if student enrollment continues to grow in the coming decade.

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