At a special meeting Saturday morning, the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution placing a $270 million general obligation bond on the ballot for the November election.
The decision followed years of conversation and research about a potential bond measure to fund needed improvements at district schools. In January 2013 the district completed a facility master plan that identified several capital projects district-wide estimated to cost $500 million. If approved by 55 percent of voters come Nov. 8, the bond would generate approximately $270 million for projects by imposing a tax of $49 per $100,000 of assessed value for Pleasanton property owners.
"The school district needs these improvements not just for the kids in school today, but for future generations," Board of Trustees member Chris Grant said after the vote Saturday. "Hopefully I can thank you in advance for your support."
The two-hour meeting, which was attended by roughly a dozen people, was scheduled so school district administration could file the bond resolution with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters before Aug. 12.
Among those who had comments about the bond proposal and affiliated project list was former Pleasanton city councilwoman Kay Ayala, who expressed concern over the call for an election happening over the summer.
"We shouldn't be doing this on July 30 when all the citizens are on their last vacation," Ayala said. "This is a Band-Aid fix. Slow down and get the entire community around you."
Speaking after Ayala's comment, Board of Trustees Vice President Mark Miller emphasized the need to address outstanding facilities issues and expressed his satisfaction with the project list.
"Adding a school, modernizing the labs, becoming more energy efficient -- I'm very confident we have a very good list," Miller said. "The idea of waiting to come up with something better is great, but stuff still needs to get done -- we've delayed this forever."
The district intends to spend the tax monies it would receive on projects that fall into four categories: safety and security with a roughly $29 million allocation; creating 21st century learning environments including new science and technology facilities for $97.8 million, energy and water improvements that would cost $10 million, and modernizations and new infrastructure at a cost of $139 million. Among the marquee items that would be funded are a new elementary school, new classrooms at Lydiksen Elementary School and upgraded fire alarm and security systems.
As part of this process, the school district and board considered an independent bond feasibility survey and looked at three bond program scenarios with tax rates ranging from $45 to $60 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Once the $49 rate was settled on, several projects that had been included on a preliminary list were eliminated. New playground equipment, an upgraded wireless network and new synthetic tracks and fields at Pleasanton high schools were among the items cut.
Retired PUSD administrator and former interim superintendent Jim Hansen said Saturday that the final project list represented a collection of upgrades that Pleasanton children deserve.
"They deserve to be in facilities that are second-to-none, and they deserve technology that brings them into the 21st century," he said at the meeting.
After the meeting, Superintendent Rick Rubino underscored the support of the board in a statement.
"The board's support of this measure is an important step in building on the excellence of our schools through investing in 21st century learning environments and improving safety at our schools," Rubino said. "We look forward to speaking candidly with Pleasanton voters about the state of our schools, the bond project list, and information for taxpayers."
If approved, this would be the district's first such measure in nearly 20 years.
A yet to be determined aspect of the upcoming election is who will run for the three seats on the Pleasanton Unified Board of Trustees. Member Valerie Arkin and Board of Trustees President Jamie Hintzke have formally filed for reelection, while Grant has not yet indicated if he will seek reelection.