Las Lomitas district returns to drawing board


Faced with lukewarm support by residents for a possible parcel tax and new information showing a significantly higher-than-expected enrollment gain in the next few years, Las Lomitas School District officials have gone back to the drawing board to determine how to meet the district's growing population and funding needs.

Although that means the school board is not actively pursuing a parcel tax measure now, it doesn't mean the district has ruled out asking voters to approve such a tax, or a bond measure for new-facilities construction to address the enrollment surge, according to Superintendent Eric Hartwig.

Mr. Hartwig said he hopes to report to the board in June with more information on new enrollment projections, the district's financial picture, and options for tackling looming challenges resulting from those two factors.

Classroom space on the district's two campuses -- Las Lomitas (K-3) in Atherton and La Entrada (4-8) in Menlo Park -- is growing ever tighter, thanks to an approximately 4 percent increase in enrollment in each of the last four years. Current enrollment is about 1,330 students district-wide.

Because a demographic study done a number of years ago projected a leveling off in enrollment by about 2015, and a possible decline after that, district officials considered adding a few portable buildings on both campuses a viable option for riding out the bubble.

But a new demographic study determined that the pre-2015 projections of the older study were far too low, and the "leveling off" prediction inaccurate. It projected that by 2016, there will be 148 more students than the earlier study predicted.

By 2017, that figure is expected grow to 172, according to the new study.

"We're having more students come in faster than we predicted," Mr. Hartwig said. "We had a wait-and-see attitude before, but we now need to do something ... . The new demographic report put in a higher place in the queue of our concerns the need to have our campuses ready for additional students."

Last summer, the school board voted to explore placing a parcel tax on the ballot to address the district's mounting budgetary problems, hoping voters would support a healthy boost to district property owners' current $311 annual tax. With the more conservative enrollment-growth projections in place at that time, the board was hoping a tax increase would help restore some of the programs and positions that took a hit when the district found itself with a $1.5 million shortfall last year.

But a survey last fall of 309 district voters found that far fewer than the required two-thirds of voters were likely to support a tax increase on the scale of what district officials determined would be needed: between $300 and $420.

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Like this comment
Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm

THanks to the city council for all that new high density housing.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 8, 2011 at 6:46 pm

"high density housing" creates more property taxes per acre than does low density housing so any additional burden on the tax property receiving entities should be offset by the increased property taxes.

Like this comment
Posted by D
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Woodside Elementary School has k-8 with less overhead (one principal/superintendent) because it's at one campus. Unified districts brings consolidation benefits too. Of course that would eliminate Mr. Hartwig's job.....

Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Perhaps the district shouldn't have sold Ladera and La Loma - think of a) what those properties would have sold for now, and b) La Loma would have remained a perfect spot for the district.

Like this comment
Posted by D
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 19, 2011 at 4:42 am

It's not about what's best for the kids or the long term, it's about adult matters such as job security and fat budgets.

Like this comment
Posted by LL Mom
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 8, 2011 at 9:04 pm

They didn't sell of Ladera and La Loma schools - the rent the district gets from Woodland and Phillips Brooks helps pay for my kids' education.

Like this comment
Posted by Sherry
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 10, 2011 at 6:34 pm

"rent the district gets from Woodland and Phillips Brooks helps pay for my kids' education."

Not an option, the funds went towards the superintendent's sports car, private vineyard in woodside, and etc.. Nice try.

Like this comment
Posted by JoMo
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 7, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Of course Mr. Hartwig pushes for a parcel tax in LLSD when his own parcel is in woodside. That's lame. you people are lame to get the wools pulled over your eyes. Your kids deserve better than just a test score.

Like this comment
Posted by Jackie
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Than you have the ones that walk the talk:

Fresno County School Superintendent Larry Powell, who's really giving back. As in $800,000 — what would have been his compensation for the next three years.

Until his term expires in 2015, Powell will run 325 schools and 35 school districts with 195,000 students, all for less than a starting California teacher earns.

Web Link

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