Portola Valley schools: Survey shows small majority favors $40M bond measure


A small majority of Portola Valley School District residents who were recently surveyed favor a $40 million bond measure to pay for some of the projects in a facilities master plan the district is developing, consultants told the district's school board Oct. 25.

There's less support, however, for a second, $30 million bond measure (for a total of $70 million) that would allow the district to pay for almost all the projects that have been identified so far in its master plan process.

Election consultants hired by the district recommended that the district not put both bond measures on the ballot.

Support for a $40 million bond measure on the November 2018 ballot ranged from 50.9 percent to 55.2 percent of the respondents, depending on when in the survey the question was asked.

The $30 million second bond measure received a maximum of 49.4 percent approval from those polled.

To pass, bond measures must receive the support of at least 55 percent of the voters.

In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 39, which lowered the threshold needed to pass most school bond measures from 66.7 percent to 55 percent. But the law limits how much a single bond measure can raise property taxes; the limit is $30 per $100,000 in assessed valuation (or $300 per $1 million in valuation).

Some school districts have gotten around the limit by asking voters to approve two bond measures on the same ballot, and the Portola Valley district had asked that the two-measure scenario be tested in the poll.

Bryan Godbe of Godbe Research presented some of the findings to the school board on Oct. 25.

The survey, conducted from Sept. 23 to Oct. 4, reached 254 of the 3,252 people deemed likely to vote in the November 2018 election. Landline, cell phone, email and texting were used to contact likely voters, and the surveys were conducted by phone or online. Mr. Godbe said the margin of error is plus or minus 5.9 percent.

The projects receiving the most support from those polled include repairing or replacing leaky roofs and protecting the quality of academic instruction in core areas.

But some projects that have received enthusiasm in the facilities master planning process received the least amount of voter support in the poll. Most unpopular were making outdoor classroom improvements, renovating existing gym and multi-use facilities, and adding a performance space.

Mr. Godbe told the school board that based on the survey results, he recommends the district "continue the process to prepare for a November 2018 single bond measure election."

The board also heard from Amanda Clifford of Clifford Moss, the political campaign consultants hired by the district.

She told the board that projects such as gyms, amphitheaters and art programs "don't resonate" with older voters. In the survey, more than 49 percent of the respondents were 65 or older, with another 33 percent between 50 and 64.

Only 21 percent of those surveyed had children under 18 in their homes.

"This is a listening effort and we're just getting started," Ms. Clifford told the board.

That listening will be done by a brand new school board. After the November election, Gulliver La Valle will be the only veteran on the board. Jeff Klugman was appointed on Oct. 25 to fill a vacant seat. Karen Tate, the only incumbent running to fill one of three vacant seats in November, has said she'll have to resign if elected because of her health.

That means the task of completing the facilities master plan, and prioritizing $40 million in projects for a bond measure, will fall to the new board.

They do have time, however. The deadline to submit a ballot measure for the November 2018 ballot is Aug. 10, 2018.


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2 people like this
Posted by Question
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 30, 2017 at 3:54 pm

How many people were surveyed, and how were they chosen? It would be incredibly difficult to get a true sample base from a town this small.

17 people like this
Posted by Math
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 30, 2017 at 4:03 pm

So PVSD paid a research company how much to survey approx 13% of the voting population and they worked out that a 'small majority' of that 13% were in favor of this ridiculous bond measure? Waste of time and resources AGAIN. No more bond measures when the last two haven't finished yet. No more bond measures when education standards continue to fail our kids or prepare them for reality. No more bond measures until PVSD can prove it can manage its finances responsibly. The education of the kids needs the attention of PVSD and the school board, not some magic bubble master plan.

6 people like this
Posted by Question
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 30, 2017 at 4:09 pm

I reread the article. 254 people of a sample “deemed most likely to vote” is not a random sample. As well, stating that certain thjngna might not resonate with older voters or those without kids in the district right now is just plain incorrect. It is also, simply, an OPINION. Before anything further happens with this bond issue, I think we need to see some clear numbers and proof of (a) competitive bids for any work already done or being proposed and (b) public meetings to explain, in detail, these needs.

There is clearly deferred maintenance—

13 people like this
Posted by ShowMeTheMoney
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Oct 30, 2017 at 4:19 pm

To whom is the school board accountable for its use of Foundation and town funding?

Is there documentation of competitive bids for the work already done, and the proposed work?

Who approved the use of town money for this survey?

Who is responsible for the cost overrun with the playgrounds? $170,000 is quite a bit of money. Certainly no employee of mine would survive a mistake of that magnitude.

10 people like this
Posted by PirateofPV
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Oct 30, 2017 at 4:34 pm

I'd heard PVSD spent half a million on playgrounds at Corte Madera and Ormondale. Why'd they'd do that if they need money for maintenance? Does anyone actually do budgets and check reconciliation there? If you have $200,000 you can only spend $200,000? is a good concept to follow if not. Were no lessons learned from the Hanretty debacle? People know I'm a pirate and I'm out to take their stuff, seems recognising sleights of hand is harder in bucolic PV.

17 people like this
Posted by PV Rancher
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Oct 31, 2017 at 7:08 am

Those playgrounds are an embarrassment in funding and design. I don't know about the other school but the Ormondale one is worse than what it replaced.

We dumped a bunch of money, tapped a bunch of donors, went over-budget only to disappoint. The last thing we need is to reapply that incompetence at a much larger scale.

It's a fine school. Fix the bathrooms and AC and leave the other stuff alone. And you shouldn't need a bond for maintenance.

2 people like this
Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 31, 2017 at 1:03 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

5 people like this
Posted by pvrez
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 31, 2017 at 3:37 pm

@PV Rancher - absolutely nailed it - total boondoggle.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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