MVLA ponders additional upgrades as parents weigh in

graphic by Grace Hase/Town Crier
With no parcel tax and a low bond tax rate, the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District’s tax rate on residents is the lowest in Santa Clara County. The graph above compares MVLA’s tax rate per $100,000 in assessed value with neighboring school districts.

Parents who attended the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 20 shared their opinions on trustees’ work on the new Facilities Master Plan.

Their message was loud and clear: Spend more on upgrades to campuses. With the district’s low tax rate, it should be in a financial position to deliver on that request.

After Assistant Superintendent Mike Mathiesen offered a brief update in the absence of architect Mark Quattrocchi of Quattrocchi Kwok Architects, the topic was open to public comment.

Parents request more

Most of the speakers were parents who had reviewed a draft of the Facilities Master Plan and wanted more.

A request for field lights came from Corrine Palacios, whose daughter plays soccer at Mountain View High.

“School is bigger than 8 a.m. to 2:30,” she said. “If we have a larger school with a larger population, we’re going to have a lot of kids with nothing to do after school if we don’t expand our sports.”

With the number of students involved in sports set to expand with the rising population in Mountain View, the already high demand for field space to practice will continue to grow. Lights would open up additional practice time, enabling more students to participate.

Other Mountain View High parents chimed in with comparisons to nearby high schools.

“Over the past five years, I’ve visited a lot of high schools on the Peninsula. ... My general take is that our facilities are one generation behind every other district in the area.” said Brett Schiller, president of the Mountain View High Sports Boosters.

But after a recent visit to Palo Alto High School, he believes that “we are three steps behind” Paly.

Sybil Cramer, Los Altos High’s Green Team adviser and chairwoman of the PTSA Go Green Committee, also advocated for increased spending. However, she focused on ensuring that ecofriendly improvements would not be deferred or forgotten.

Bob Crissman, vice president of Los Altos High’s Athletic Boosters, summed up the sentiment best.

“Please ask for the money we need to do it right,” he told trustees of the impending upgrades. “We’re not going to be able to again in five years. We will help you get out and rally the support of our community so that we can have facilities that we can use for years to come.”

Low tax rate

Should trustees decide to heed the calls to invest more in their upcoming renovations to district campuses, they’re in a solid financial position to do so.

While trustees spent previous meetings trying to bring costs down, the public feedback coupled with information on their solid financial standing began to turn the conversation around.

Following public comment on the Facilities Master Plan, Isom Advisors delivered a presentation on the district’s bond capacity.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District does not assess parcel taxes like many districts, including the Los Altos School District and the Mountain View Whisman School District. Residents within MVLA’s boundaries pay the district only $10.70 per $100,000 in assessed value, the lowest rate in Santa Clara County by a wide margin, perhaps explaining parents’ willingness to spend more on a bond measure to fund the Facilities Master Plan.

“The numbers that we’re talking about now are at a very arbitrary level,” Trustee Phil Faillace said.

MVLA officials plan to reach out to the community in hopes of landing on a higher number that taxpayers would be willing to pay.

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