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October 26, 2005

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Publication Date: Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Voter Guide: Woodside School's Measure D would raise $12 million for classrooms, facilities Voter Guide: Woodside School's Measure D would raise $12 million for classrooms, facilities (October 26, 2005)

By David Boyce

Almanac Staff Writer

Big changes are in store for the campus of Woodside Elementary School if district voters approve Measure D, a $12 million school-construction bond proposal.

The five-member school board placed it on the ballot by a unanimous vote in June. All four candidates for three seats on the board support the measure.

Passage would mean the removal of some 17 portable classrooms, some with leaking roofs, and the building of eight one-story structures, totaling 23,000 square feet, for 14 classrooms, a new band room, a computer lab, a new administration building and a community room.

"(Woodside) is the least attractive elementary school in the area," said Cree Edwards, who chaired a committee of school board members, administrators, teachers and parents that drafted a master plan for the campus.

Under the plan, the district would reconfigure the field used for recess and small-kids soccer, creating a full-size soccer field and running track and a new playground nearby for students in grades 3 through 8.

To address traffic congestion, new drop-off zones would be added near the administration and kindergarten areas and a school bus zone would be created at the far end of the campus near Sellman Auditorium.

In the sample ballot argument favoring the measure, proponents said it would complete the modernization begun in 1999, when voters approved a $5.2 million bond measure by a 74 percent majority. That money bought six new middle-school classrooms. To reduce costs, Measure D would re-use the drawings for the design of the new classrooms.

Signing the sample ballot argument in favor were Woodside Councilwoman Susan Boynton, school foundation board member Rob Flint, school board president Bettina Pike, resident Leslie Quist, and Ted Taube, who chairs the Taube Family Foundation.

Measure D is opposed by the Libertarian Party of San Mateo County, which opposes all school-district bond measures, said party chairman Jack Hickey, who is not a Woodside resident.

"The taxpayers never get a voice. They never seem to get heard without a ballot argument," he said in explaining his opposition to a measure that would not tax his dwelling.

State law permits passage of school construction bond measures by 55 percent of voters instead of two-thirds, but requires extensive community oversight of how the money is spent.
Financial impact

Voters rejected a $10.2 million bond measure in 1998, when neighbors complained that the size of the proposed buildings conflicted with the town's rural character. Voters approved a smaller $5.2 million measure in 1999.

If Measure D passes, taxes on property owners would increase from what they are now paying on the 1999 bond measure -- about $20.50 a year per $100,000 in assessed value, said Anthony R. Hsieh of the firm Piper Jaffray, the district's financial consultant for this bond measure.

Measure D would add $22.25 a year for each $100,000 of assessed value for 24 years; then the tax rate would gradually drop over the next seven years, with a final rate of $1.57, said Mr. Hsieh.

In 2004-05, the median assessed value of a single-family home in the Woodside school district was $718,758, said Mr. Hsieh.

For the next 18 years, the estimated tax total for the two bonds would average about $320 per year for the owner of a single-family home with an assessed value at the district's median, said Mr. Hsieh.

The total yearly tax would then be expected to drop to $239. Over the lifetime of the two bonds, the average would be about $285, he said.

In the 2004-05 fiscal year, property in the Woodside School District had an assessed value of $1.67 billion, which corresponds to a district borrowing capacity set by the state of about $21 million, said assistant superintendent Tim Hanretty in an interview.

The district's debt would total $17 million if Measure D passes.

The Woodside Elementary School District is asking voters to approve a $12 million bond measure for school construction. To pass, 55 percent of voters must approve it.

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