Town Square

Post a New Topic

Survey: Voters would easily approve $294 million bond measure for high schools

Original post made on Feb 13, 2014

Voters in the Sequoia high school district would likely approve a bond measure to rebuild campuses, including Menlo-Atherton and Woodside, and raise taxes by as much as $16 per $100,000 of a property's assessed value, according to a recent survey.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 13, 2014, 11:26 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by Kahle Berner, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 13, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Only a few years ago the SUHSD used hundreds of millions of taxpayer to build facilities totally unnecessary for the core function of educating our children : football lighting, extravagant performing arts centers, Olympic sized pools, new gyms, and more. A waste of money on "nice to have" facilities. Now they are back to the well for money they really need. This is exceedingly poor planning by elected trustees and SUHSD administrators.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 14, 2014 at 8:02 am

A year doesn't seem to go by without one of the school district asking for more money for one reason or another. And the taxpayers somehow always seem to fund them.

With all the money going to our schools one would think we should have a superior educational system with students excelling in their education, but I don't think that's the case.

Interesting comment from above: "Common practice is not to include the amount of a bond measure in communicating to voters, Mr. Godbe said. "It's such an abstract number that people don't get it. There's no sticker shock," he said."

Let's not tell the voters how much money we need!


Posted by Taxman, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 14, 2014 at 8:41 am

I won't vote for this. Show me a full accounting of all the previous money we've been fleeced for first! (Like that would ever happen).


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2014 at 10:37 am

Who is paying for this campaign against property owners who are stuck with paying the tax if it passes?

"Board member Olivia Martinez asked Ms. Stern-Benoit to talk about the benefits of hiring professionals to run the campaign, a service that TBWB Strategies provides. Such a team could map a strategy, work on getting endorsements and fundraising, manage phone banks, and get the district's message out there. "It helps to really hone that time into what has to be done locally," she said."


Posted by Arts Professional, a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2014 at 4:31 pm

There is always someone who described the PACs as "extravagant." The PACs in the Sequoia UHSD are not extravagant, by any stretch of the imagination, unless you're the type of person who views the performing arts as inherently extravagant (in which case, we obviously don't see eye-to-eye because I view performing, visual and fine arts as core academic subjects for any well-rounded education.) The PAC at M-A has more bells and whistles, but it also had additional funding outside of the bond measure. The other PACs are modest, but appropriate facilities for students to learn and practice performance.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 14, 2014 at 4:50 pm

The Greeks managed very well with an outdoor amphitheater. Shakespeare and O'Neill, Miller and Williams, Shepard and Becket, all the elegance in language and drama that one could ever want and available for a couple of bucks. And let me not forget the musicals so popular in high school.

An outdoor amphitheater in 2014 is a bit much, but I fail to see how the fundamentals of being on stage and having sets changed by hand by an ordinary stage crew is somehow beneath the dignity of high school students.

What is wrong with using one's imagination and asking the audience to do the same? Why does the venue have to be so magnificent? It is commonplace but I will note anyway that when working in the creative arts, there are huge benefits when doing that work within limits.

It's the race to keep up with the private schools that we are paying for when we build these monuments. I've never been to acting school, but I will bet that peripheral matters such as automatic backdrops and perfect lighting and sitting in the audience and controlling with a laptop have nothing to do with learning the fundamentals of being on stage.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 14, 2014 at 4:57 pm

And I might add that acting troupes all over the Bay Area change sets by hand. Public high schools having stellar equipment when actual working theaters are successful with ordinary facilities is ridiculous.


Posted by voting NO on the bond, a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I agree. The SUHSD over spent and took advantage of tax payers when building the performing arts centers. The newest PAC at Carlmont was too extravangant for a high school and now very expensive to run. Local community theater groups can't use it because of the high cost to rent it out.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
19 hours ago

The District's contract with TBWB Strategies, interesting reading, can be found here: Web Link
I have requested cost information for that contract. The Godbe poll cost $34,710.


Posted by I've got MINE, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
18 hours ago

And my kids are out of the district and moved away and will never use the district, so I'm pulling up the ladder behind me and urging a NO vote!

No way that investing in education is good for the area. We can import all the foreign engineers we need for silicon valley.

Vote NO. We'll all be dead, anyway, when the lack of education really hits the area and the American economy.

#VoteLibertarian
#IveGotMine
#SelfishBas****




(#CanYouBelieveTheseGuys?)


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
17 hours ago

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"No way that investing in education is good for the area. "

Actually INVESTING in education is a great idea. What is a horrible idea is for a high school district that has only $112 million of annual revenue (only 80% of which are assured via taxes) and only $16 million of non-special reserves to have over a $1 BILLION in debt.

Blindly supporting any class of public expenditure is a very dumb idea and suggesting that education should get a special exemption from the reality test of its ability to service debt is even dumber.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
17 hours ago

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Note that the outstanding General Obligation Bond debt of the District as of June 30, 2013, is already $336,340,000.

The total requirements to amortize through 2044 these General Obligation Bonds outstanding as of June 30, 2013 is $558,520,819.

Now add $265 M more in debt which would take $530 M to retire and the SUHSD would now have a total amortized debt of $1.08 BILLION !!!

Please correct my figures if they are wrong.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
17 hours ago

Can you believe well in excess of $1 Billion(including state matching funds) and no cafeterias? Web Link

Here's an excerpt from that article by David Boyce:
"High school cafeteria. The words go together like pepperoni pizza or grilled cheese sandwich. And yet in the four comprehensive schools in the Sequoia Union High School District, including Menlo-Atherton and Woodside, there are no cafeterias."


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Menlo Park: other
16 hours ago

As a senior, there is a limit to what I can pay. The voters ignored seniors in the recent bond issue and now they are back for more. In response to the poster who said "I've got mine", some of us never had a child in public school yet we have paid the tab for some 50 years. You are forcing the elderly to pull up stakes and move away from everything they have ever known. Shameful.


Posted by Elementary School Parent, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
14 hours ago

I think that "I've got MINE" was satire and not this person's actual opinion (at least I hope it was). I think they are trying to take an extreme position to poke fun of some of the reason's people might vote no.

I plan to vote 'yes'. More kids are coming and they need more classrooms. I also support the past expenditures on PAC's and sports facilities that help provide students will a well rounded high school experience. We are so fortunate to have these strong public high schools in our community and I hope we can keep them strong for all the kids that are coming. I think it is very important to invest in our young people and their education.


Posted by Elementary School Parent, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
14 hours ago

Oops, sorry for the few typos in my post. I think I need to clean my glasses.


Posted by hsparent, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
12 hours ago

If the district sent more kids to Woodside High (ie, Los Lomitas)-- then they wouldn't need to tear down as many classrooms at MA to build 22 new ones (big construction zone for the next year or so). Unlike MA, Woodside still has some room to build and is still under-enrolled (tho still slated to build 12 new classrooms). Also, this would eliminate a few hundred kids from traveling west to east over El Camino each day -- send kids to school closest to their homes. Filling the seats at Woodside HIgh would show fiscal responsibility and finally show the SUHSD Board's support for a really great high school.

I will vote YES for this but am also suspect about the district's plan to construct 2 new small Charter high schools in Menlo Park Area. This is going to most likely mean more traffic -- again more people traveling west to east and will this really offset MA's population? Curious -- how many kids within MA boundary currently attend Summit and Everest?

Fill the schools we have before building new ones........


Posted by Arts Professional, a resident of another community
11 hours ago

Joe:

You are incorrect. Performing arts technology is part of any appropriately equipped performance venue in 2014. The Greeks did make some great theater, as did Shakespeare. They also made do without school buses, electricity, computers, telephones, etc. Shall we have our students write in the dirt with sticks? Seriously - part of the art and craft of performing arts is technology. And it is cheaper to run the lights from free software on a laptop, so that was not a very good example. Performing arts, including theater, music, dance, opera, film, television, are interrelated and increasingly technologically complex. They are also a large economic force in our state in particular. Some school districts use their performance venues as vocational training for future stage and film technicians. Next time you watch a film, watch the credits roll all the way to the end. Everyone of those people is drawing a paycheck. Most, if not all, got started in the "business" because something clicked for them in the performance world when they were in high school. Danny Ortega, creator of the High School Musical franchise, got his start right here in San Mateo County. Don't short change the futures of our community's children by limiting their options.


Posted by Arts Professional, a resident of another community
11 hours ago

...oops. I got so expressive I gave Kenny Ortega the wrong first name...


Posted by fwiw, a resident of Woodside: other
9 hours ago

> Peter writes:
> What is a horrible idea is for a high school district that has only $112 million of annual revenue (only 80% of which are assured via taxes) and only $16 million of non-special reserves to have over a $1 BILLION in debt.

> Blindly supporting any class of public expenditure is a very dumb idea and suggesting that education should get a special exemption from the reality test of its ability to service debt is even dumber.

Ignoring for the moment that you are equating future value dollars with today value dollars, do you really not understand how GO Bonds are financed?
Hint: debt service will be directly funded to the precise amount from taxpayer rolls (ie, taxes will go up sufficiently to pay the bond amount).

Also, please compare and contrast how you think the Menlo Fire Protection District is doing relative to financing its capital obligations. Hint: read the recent prop 13 financing report that you yourself commissioned from district staff carefully before tackling this one.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Indian street food and ... bitcoins?
By Elena Kadvany | 4 comments | 3,175 views

Most Seniors do not Need Senior Housing But Could Benefit from other Choice to Remain in Palo Alto
By Steve Levy | 31 comments | 1,484 views

I Spy
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 1,000 views

Life, Death and Rails
By Paul Bendix | 3 comments | 786 views

Live! Menlo Park’s New Website
By Erin Glanville | 9 comments | 689 views