As the Portola Valley School District's board ponders several major decisions with long-term implications in coming months – including a master plan for upgrading the district's facilities and a possible bond measure – the board will have no more than two veteran members after November.
Four of the five board seats will be filled this year: three by election in November and one by appointment Oct. 25. Only one incumbent, Karen Tate, is running. Incumbent Gulliver La Valle's term ends in December 2019.
The Portola Valley School District's governing board voted Sept. 27 to appoint a board member to replace Jennifer Youstra, who resigned Sept. 8 with more than two years left in her term. The earliest month to schedule a special election would have been April 2018.
Interested residents in the school district have until Wednesday, Oct. 18, to apply. The appointment will be made on Oct. 25, effective immediately upon the appointment.
Many residents consider the appointment, and the upcoming election to fill three other seats on the five-member board, to be important because the district is in the midst of updating its facilities master plan.
A draft of the plan presented in September has projects ranging from new and renovated facilities to outdoor education and gathering spaces, and items to improve school safety, security and parking.
Projects at Ormondale School total $30.2 million with $42.2 million of projects for Corte Madera School.
The district has started polling residents to gauge interest in a bond measure that could pay for some of the master plan projects. The results of the polling will be discussed at the board's Oct. 25 and Nov. 15 meetings.
Superintendent Eric Hartwig said the school board will be looking at the draft facilities master plan at meetings between now and February. The board will be analyzing what projects are most needed and what the community will support, he said.
If the board decides to put a bond measure on the June ballot it will need to make a decision by February, the superintendent said.
Members of the public will be allowed to comment at all the meetings, he said.
The board has already investigated changing the configuration of grades on the district's two campuses and combining both schools onto one campus and decided to keep the current configuration, the superintendent said.
The candidates for the board appointment will be interviewed in public at the Oct. 25 board meeting. By law, the vote to make the appointment must also be made public.
The resignation leaves the district in an unusual situation because a November election for three board seats is coming up and four candidates have applied: incumbent Ms. Tate and three district parents active in the schools: Karyn Bechtel, a community volunteer from Woodside; Jeff Klugman, a retired software executive; and Michael Maffia, an investor and developer.
Superintendent Eric Hartwig said the district has been told that any of the candidates can apply to fill Ms. Youstra's remaining term of a little over two years. However, if the board appoints one of the candidates and that person wins a seat in the November election, she or he would have to resign from the appointed seat, take the new seat, and the board would have to make another appointment or schedule a special election.
The appointment will be the first item on the board's Oct. 25 agenda, Superintendent Hartwig said; the new board member will be sworn in immediately after a choice is made.
State law requires that school board members live in the district, be a registered voter and not a current school district employee.
The board usually meets on the third Wednesday of the month, with the open session starting at 6 p.m., in Room 201 of Corte Madera School, 4575 Alpine Road in Portola Valley.
The district has previously passed two bond measures: a $17 million measure in 1998 with a 77.3 percent "yes" vote, and a $6 million measure in November 2001 with a 73.4 percent "yes" vote. The second measure was needed to complete construction projects started under the first bond measure after construction costs inflated.
The $15.05 million still owed on outstanding bonds is expected to be paid off by 2029.
• Find the district's invitation to apply for the board appointment here.
• Find the application for the board appointment here.
• See the August draft of the master plan with a preliminary budget here.
• See the September draft of the facilities master plan with a more refined budget here.