Almanac

Schools - July 3, 2013

District may put $60 million bond measure on ballot

by Renee Batti

Following the example of a neighboring district, officials in the Las Lomitas Elementary School District may ask voters to approve a bond measure on the November ballot to pay for new classrooms and upgrades on its two campuses to meet surging enrollment.

The school board will decide whether to put a $60 million bond measure before voters at a special Aug. 6 meeting.

Enrollment at Las Lomitas (K-3) in Atherton and La Entrada (4-8) in Menlo Park has climbed by 40 percent in about the last 10 years, according to Carolyn Chow, the district's chief business officer. And the increase continues. When school opens in August, enrollment is expected to rise by another 70 students to a total of 1,444. It is expected to increase by 46 the following year, Ms. Chow said, and the increases will continue beyond that.

At a June 26 meeting, board members indicated they were leaning toward placing a bond measure on the ballot, Ms. Chow said, so the district is now preparing ballot language for the board to vote on at the August meeting.

Approval by 55 percent of voters would be needed for the measure to pass.

Voters in the Menlo Park City School District, which also primarily serves children in Menlo Park and Atherton, will be asked to approve a $23 million bond measure in November to construct a fifth district school on a district-owned campus in Menlo Park. That district has also seen its enrollment far exceed projections from demographic studies done in recent years.

In the Las Lomitas district, the two campuses are at capacity, with 18 portable classrooms — nine at each campus — in use. Ms. Chow said a facilities master plan done recently identifies over $100 million in projects that would upgrade both campuses to maximum standards.

The board and district staff have been discussing projects that would eliminate all portable buildings and construct new, two-story buildings for classrooms. The project list would also include investment in modern technology, improved accessibility to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements, and an expanded lunch area to deal with the larger number of students, Ms. Chow said.

District residents are now paying for two previously approved bond measures. Measure A was passed in 1999, authorizing the issuing of $12 million in bonds to pay for renovation and repair projects at the district's two schools.

In 2001, voters approved Measure E, which was to raise $12 million to finish renovation projects in the face of escalating costs, and to fund a new gym at La Entrada School and make playground and safety improvements at La Entrada School.

In addition to payments on the bonds, district residents now pay an annual parcel tax of $311 per parcel, according to Ms. Chow.

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