News

Editorial: Support Measure R to finish campus projects

 

Voters in the Las Lomitas Elementary School District in 2013 approved a $60 million bond measure to launch the first phase of a massive capital project that included building more than 30 new classrooms and replacing portable classrooms at its two schools: Las Lomitas in Atherton and La Entrada Middle School in Menlo Park. With that project nearly completed, district leaders are now asking voters to support Measure R, a $70 million bond measure on the June ballot that would allow the district to finish the job of repairing and renovating existing buildings, some of which have leaking roofs and outdated electrical and security systems.

If approved by 55 percent of voters, the bond measure would add to property tax bills about $300 per $1 million of the assessed value of property in the district. Combined with what they are already paying on the debt from the 2013 Measure S, property owners would pay a total of about $650 per $1 million of assessed value of their property if Measure R passes.

Is that a reasonable price to pay for what would be achieved with the funds? We think it is, considering several key factors: the poor state of a number of aging facilities and systems on the district campuses, including electrical, heating/air conditioning and security systems in serious need of upgrading; the need to get rid of, once and for all, portable classrooms on the La Entrada campus; the need to make all buildings seismically safe and bring playground equipment up to current health and safety codes; and the indisputable corollary between high property values and good schools with well-maintained campuses.

As any property owner knows, maintenance of structures and infrastructure is expensive, but it only gets more so the longer it's delayed. Las Lomitas district board president John Earnhardt sums it up: "If we don't do this now, we're going to be dealing with an emergency situation -- it's just going to be more expensive."

Voters in the Las Lomitas district should allow the district to complete its project to repair existing facilities and upgrade its campuses by supporting Measure R.

Comments

51 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 21, 2018 at 12:05 pm

As others have pointed out, virtually *everything* listed as a project in Measure R was *already* listed as a project for Measure S, which passed only 4 1/2 years ago.

This tax double-dipping has been repeatedly pointed out both in comments to articles on this matter, as well as on the ballot's arguments. Mr. Earnhardt has been repeatedly called out on this blatant abuse of taxpayer funds and trust.

The response has been crickets.

These people hope you don't notice the egregious mis-appropriation of Measure S funds, and continue funding their largess.

These people think you are sycophants and fools, and think you are incapable of reading or remembering Measure S.

Prove them wrong. Vote NO on Measure R.


78 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2018 at 12:55 pm

The massive problem with these school bond issues is the 55% threshold to pass. If you have a city population of 20,000, and you get 20% turnout in an election, all you need is 2,200 active parents to ram this through. Not to mention the fact that those over 65 typically aren't included in the parcel tax (in which case, they shouldn't be allowed to vote on it). The 65% passing threshold was more than fair


35 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on May 21, 2018 at 11:19 pm

$130Million for construction projects at 2 schools? Are you kidding me? Where did the money from the first $60Million go such that you need another $70Million?

That is insane. You are building schools, not Four Seasons Resorts. If you can't figure out how to build a few buildings and do some repairs and upgrades for $60Million, then you don't belong in your job.

And we wonder why public institutions are failing?

I'm all for supporting our schools, but we are taxed more than anywhere in the entire nation. Anywhere. And this is yet another tax, on top of the tax from the last bond. Enough is enough! You obviously don't know how to manage our tax dollars, so I'm voting no.


37 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 22, 2018 at 12:29 pm

I have 2 children currently in Las Lomitas, volunteer there often, and yet I am voting NO on R. I see no leaky roofs, no rundown admin offices, no security lapses. I see beautiful well-maintained campuses. I also see arrogant administrators who will not tell the community their plans. See, for example, the May 18, page 8 article, where the director of the bond said that there was no master plan, that the school board had never adopted any master plan, and that the draft master plan was never released because either it was obsolete or had inappropriate pictures of students in it. I will not vote for another huge tax or bond where arrogant officials won't tell me what it's for.


32 people like this
Posted by Joan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 23, 2018 at 2:33 pm

This is a bond, not a parcel tax so there is no relief for seniors who cannot afford more taxes. The school district needs to live within it's means and not come to the taxpayers for more, more, and more. Vote NO.


41 people like this
Posted by A Citizen
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 26, 2018 at 10:19 am

The vote NO on Measure R comments are right on! Vote NO and send a message! Send a message to the school board of the Las Lomitas School District that they need to open their eyes and more closely examine the state of the school district. Send a message to the school board to stop listening to the rhetoric coming from incompetent administration and talk to the parents and teachers to find out what is really going on. Will there be consequences resulting from incomplete construction sites? Yes. But the consequences of poor leadership, an exodus of quality teaching staff, and a demoralized remaining staff is far worse.


44 people like this
Posted by John Earnhardt
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jun 1, 2018 at 5:37 pm

I appreciate that the community supports our schools. Our schools are a community resource and the passion around this resource is a very good thing. There is a bit of a misunderstanding on the issue of bond language, however. The bond language in Measure R and bond language in Measure S are similar, yes. This is because if a project is NOT listed in the bond language then money cannot be spent on it...therefore the bond language is to address many projects that are in scope and we may have money for...

Measure S was always for new classrooms. These are being built now and most of them will be open for our next school year. These new buildings are impressive and the community will be proud of them for decades to come. Measure R addresses the 70+ old classrooms that need repair and rebuilding. These classrooms were built in the 50's and 60's and 70's and are in dire need of help. Community members before us built these classrooms and now we have to upgrade and rebuild them so that current and future parents can utilize them to educate our community. There is a "pay it forward" mentality in school bonds. This is what a community does...the true definition of community is to come together to support each other.

It is true that this is a lot of money for these projects. It is also true that it costs a lot to build in the Bay Area. As a school board member, our main job is to watch every dollar that we spend and try to be as frugal as possible while giving our students all the opportunities that the community expects -- Mandarin, Robotics, Latin, French, Spanish, Band, Art, etc...on top of excellent core subjects that teach our students to be capable and contributing citizens in the future.

We thank you for your YES vote on Measure R.

POST SCRIPT: Every advertisement for a home for sale or rent in our school district mentions the award winning Las Lomitas School District (including on this website and in this physical paper). Even if voters have no interest in helping the children in this community, they should support Measure R for the positive impact the improved school buildings will have on the value of their residential real estate.

POST-POST SCRIPT: I will also note that I use my real name when posting. I generally don't think any anonymous commenters deserves a response (save for one commenter on this conversation), but in the spirit of transparency I thought I would offer a response to some of the perceived issues on this Measure. More info on Measure R at Web Link


36 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Jun 3, 2018 at 2:22 pm

"I use my real name when posting. I generally don't think any anonymous commenters deserves a response"

People on the losing side of a debate frequently use this argument as an excuse to not debate the merits of a topic. It's a terrible excuse.

The message is what really matters; the messenger much less so.

Come on, be honest: you're walking away from the debate NOT because you have righteous indignation at anonymous posts; you're walking away because you can't defend your position.

Paying twice for the SAME thing...which is undeniably true based on any objective reading of Measures R and S...is indefensible.



"[voters] should support Measure R for the positive impact the improved school buildings will have on the value of their residential real estate."

ONE:
Do you have any evidence that new school buildings result in higher real estate values on residential real estate? I doubt it, but let's see if you can back up this claim without pure conjecture.

TWO:
Using your own logic, then...since voters already passed Measure S, there's no reason to pass the IDENTICAL MEASURE R, since it R pays for the same thing twice and we've already seen this alleged property-value appreciation.

THREE:
Implying that school district quality is the sole reason for property value appreciation is heavily flawed logic that is commonly trumpeted by the unlimited-taxes bourgeoisie. All one has to do is look at Ravenswood to easily dismiss this flawed assertion: Ravenswood (and by extension EPA) has undeniably terrible public school scores...yet property value appreciation has been greater in EPA than in nearby Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Portola Valley.



"Measure S was always for new classrooms. "

No, wrong. Measure S says otherwise; from Measure S, verbatim: Web Link

"Renovate existing classrooms and educational support facilities."

"Upgrade classrooms, restrooms, and school facilities so that they comply with current health and safety standards and are accessible for students and adults. "

"Replace existing water, sewer and plumbing systems to meet current codes."

Update electrical wiring to relieve overloaded electrical systems to handle modern wireless networks to support new classroom instructional technology."

"Replace older windows, ceilings, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting systems with building code compliant, energy efficient systems, which will save money on operating costs. "

(and it goes on) You don't need to "renovate" new classrooms.

It should also be pointed out that at NO TIME in 2013 did the district say that Measure S was part 1 of a 2-part taxation plan.



Vote NO on Measure R. Don't pay twice for the same thing!


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