News

Las Lomitas school district considers another bond measure

 
Construction is underway at both Las Lomitas district campuses, including La Entrada Middle School, where this two story classroom building is scheduled to be completed by the fall. (Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac)

As the Las Lomitas Elementary School District works to complete major construction projects on both its school campuses -- paid for with the proceeds of a $60 million bond approved by the voters in November 2013 -- the district's school board is considering putting another bond measure on the June ballot.

The 2013 bond measure was approved by nearly 74 percent of voters, far more than the 55 percent approval needed for most school bonds.

Eric Holm, the district's bond projects director, said the district's 2013 master plan identified $120 million in needs on the campuses of its two schools: kindergarten to third grade Las Lomitas and fourth- to eighth-grade La Entrada Middle. The 2013 bond measure "was never intended to complete all of our projects," he said.

Mr. Holm said the school board will discuss the size of a possible bond measure when it meets on Feb. 14.

A 2017 survey by consultants Godbe Research asked a sample of likely local voters if they would approve a $60 million bond measure. The report on the survey says it "revealed a solid base of voter support for a school bond measure" finding 60.5 percent of surveyed voters would approve a $60 million bond in June. An error rate of plus or minus 6.32 points was possible, the Godbe report said.

Information posted on the district's website says the following projects are planned for phase two of construction at La Entrada:

● Improve school and student safety with redesigned parking lot, pick-up and drop-off areas.

● Recondition sports fields and running path for improved physical education space.

● Modernize existing classrooms and support buildings for 21st century teaching and learning.

● Install a rooftop solar system campuswide.

The website shows these projects planned for phase two construction at Las Lomitas:

● Modernize existing classrooms to support student achievement in math, science, arts and technology.

● Improve school safety, security and access.

● Upgrade utility systems and improve infrastructure at the existing campus.

● Replace aging roofing on all buildings not included in phase one.

● Install rooftop solar campus-wide.

One major difference between the district's circumstances in 2013 and now is that in 2013 the district was experiencing increasing student enrollment. Since then, enrollment has steadily fallen from a high of 1,419 students in the 2012-13 school year to 1,360 in this school year.

The Godbe report also gauged likely voter interest in specific projects and found the highest amount of support among respondents for: repairing and replacing aging and leaking roofs and fire alarm systems; protecting the quality of academic instruction in core subjects like math, science, reading and writing; upgrading classrooms and educational facilities to meet current health and safety codes; and repairing, updating and replacing outdated classrooms. (School bond proceeds can be spent only on construction projects.)

The survey also tested potential voter reaction to different statements and the report recommended wording that might be used as "key pieces of information that the voters need to make an informed decision."

The recommended points include that the bond funding will benefit local schools and cannot be taken away by the state; that upgrades and repairs will mean savings on utilities "that can be used for classroom programs"; and that good schools "support property values."

Mr. Holm said in an email that as the district's "facilities continue to age, many utilities are nearing the end of their useful life. Principally, our existing roofs, heating, and air conditioning systems need to be replaced," he said.

"Additionally, our utilities such as fire alarms, security systems, and energy management are nearing the end of their functional life and we need to replace them before they age beyond repair. A new bond will allow us to invest in continued renovation of our existing facilities to maintain the safe, quality classrooms for our children," he said.

Comments

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Posted by Sharon Heights TP
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 7, 2018 at 10:00 pm

Re: Las Lomitas school district considers another bond measure

Given that "School bond proceeds can be spent only on construction projects”, hopefully senior exemptions will be part of any school bond measure.


9 people like this
Posted by waiting for leadership at LLESD
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 7, 2018 at 10:22 pm

It's fine that Las Lomitas is looking to improve it's facilities but when will they look to improve their instructional program?

We watched MPCSD go through construction and then moved into hiring a progressive leadership team.

LLESD is finally going through it's construction, a bit late for large classes that went through in recent years and now instead of getting their instructional program going, they are focused on facilities again. When are we going to get with the progressive school districts and get some programs going that are commensurate with those in our neighboring districts? We seem to be behind with technology, foreign language, and individualized learning. Everyone is focused on the achievement gap but for the resources that we have, why don't we have instructional leadership from the top instead of simply just providing facilities updates?

Why don't we have a way to communicate with our school board without going through the superintendent first? I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that.
Why does the district limit the press that the district gets? (this is one of the first articles I've seen outside of the school closure).
Why aren't our students doing more service work like I see the students doing at Wooside?
Why aren't our students learning a foreign language starting in kindergarten like I see happening in PVSD?
Why doesn't our board hire a superintendent with a lofty vision beyond building a new school?
Are we studying the charter schools? The progressive schools? Why is MPCSD partnering with Alt School and we are sitting on the sidelines dreaming about school upgrades.

Come on LLESD. Keep up with the Joneses. It's time for a superintendent who wants to do more than meet the expectations set forth by the state. Let's get some leadership that goes beyond the buildings. I'll support a bond but want more than nice facilities and the status quo.


15 people like this
Posted by Las Lomitas resident
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Feb 8, 2018 at 7:21 am

Not again! They have not even finished all the construction work and are already seeking more funds. Many of us have had a huge hit this year by not being allowed to deduct most of our property taxes. Some of us are on fixed incomes and are not bottomless. You will be forcing us to sell our homes. Many of these items are non essential - go raise the money instead of taxing us more! This has to end.


13 people like this
Posted by Joan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2018 at 6:50 pm

<<Not again! They have not even finished all the construction work and are already seeking more funds. Many of us have had a huge hit this year by not being allowed to deduct most of our property taxes. Some of us are on fixed incomes and are not bottomless. You will be forcing us to sell our homes. Many of these items are non essential - go raise the money instead of taxing us more! This has to end.>>

I completely agree. They will be forcing seniors to sell their homes. We have limited resources. The loss of our property tax deduction is devastating. Adding yet another bond to our tax bills will be the straw that broke the camel's back.


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