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the district to finish the job of repairing and renovating existing buildings, some of which have leaking roofs and outdated electrical and security systems.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.