MVLA superintendent proposes $292M budget for Facilities Master Plan

The median budget for the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District’s Facilities Master Plan has increased from $250 million to approximately $292 million, according to a new proposal Superintendent Jeff Harding presented at the Dec. 4 district board meeting.

A reassessment of future enrollment growth at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools prompted boosting the budget to build up to 20 more classrooms and a few more bathrooms than originally planned, modernize the gyms and improve athletic fields, including the addition of a soccer-sized synthetic turf field at each school.

The new budget is between an estimated low of $278 million and a high of more than $304 million; the previous proposal set the budget between $210 million and $295 million. The current median, $292 million, comes close to the estimated high of the earlier budget.

“We’ve been frugal enough that I can stand here to say this is our recommendation,” Harding said, endorsing the new budget proposal. “Between being overly frugal and extravagant, we’ve really hit it right at the sweet spot.”

Harding later added, regarding bond measures, that if there were another school site, “we would have authority to build on any land we own.”

A bond measure to pay for the implementation of the Facilities Master Plan could be placed on the ballot as soon as June. But before that can happen, the board must approve the budget. Trustees vowed to discuss it further at their next meeting, scheduled 7 p.m. Jan. 8.

The current proposal suggests setting aside $30 million for future needs that may arise, including upgrading educational technology. The district’s demographic study projects 726 more students by the 2021-2022 school year, but if the population increases by as many as 1,300 students, a future board would have access to funds to build 20 additional classrooms.

Given the need for more classrooms in limited space, the Facilities Master Plan calls for two-story classroom buildings at both high schools.

Residents respond

Two of the eight local residents who spoke at the Dec. 4 meeting opposed constructing two-story buildings.

“I believe having a very high, barrier-like building would affect home prices in our neighborhood,” said Kenneth Matosian, who has lived adjacent to Los Altos High since 1973.

He also expressed concern about a two-story building casting a shadow over his solar panels.

Saeed Foudeh agreed with Matosian, noting that a nearly 40-foot-tall building would not look right in the neighborhood and would project too much noise.

Two other residents addressed the installation of lights on the soccer fields – one for and the other against. Tim Palacios said it would be helpful to have lights that would enable students to practice soccer after dark, but Reza Safai frowned on the idea, claiming that it would generate noise when residents around the school need peace and quiet in the evening.

A few other local residents voiced full support for the Facilities Master Plan, including Scott Graeser.

“We have to do it while we can,” he said. “Who knows if there’s going to be a recession in 10 years? We should do it when the economy is strong.”

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