Editorial endorsement: Yes on Portola Valley school bond, Measure Z


Should residents of the Portola Valley School District support Measure Z, the $49.5 million bond measure that will raise funds to rebuild or repair buildings mostly constructed in the late 1950s and early 1960s? There are many good reasons to vote yes on this measure, and none that we can think of to reject it.

As with many aging buildings, problems with leaking roofs, old electrical wiring and plumbing, failing heating and cooling systems, and even mold have come to plague the district's schools creating an environment that's hardly conducive to learning.

In coming up with its plan for upgrading buildings on its two campuses – Ormondale and Corte Madera – the school district assessed what the most pressing needs are on both campuses, with the guiding principle being to repair what could be repaired and rebuild if necessary. The estimated cost of projects identified as highest priority ranges from $49. 2 million to $54.5 million.

Some 61 percent of the classrooms that would be replaced if Measure Z passes are "temporary," portable and prefab structures, according to Superintendent Eric Hartwig. The bulk of the bond revenue would be spent on new construction, he said, because in many cases, it would be more expensive to repair the buildings than to start from scratch They are, clearly, past their useful life.

As with other local school districts, enrollment in the Portola Valley district has stopped growing, and in fact has been slowly declining over the last two years. The Measure Z plan calls for fewer classrooms than now exist, but the creation of space better suited to next-generation learning.

The measure needs the support of 55 percent of district voters, and if it passes, property owners' tax bills would increase a maximum of $300 per $1 million of assessed valuation on their properties.

The thought of kids being sent off to school to sit in moldy classrooms with leaky roofs, and in decades-old "temporary" structures with failing infrastructure, is a dreary one. But that's what the Portola Valley School District and its students face. If you find that reality unacceptable, you should vote yes on Measure Z.


15 people like this
Posted by Corte Madera '15
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 13, 2018 at 7:08 pm

As a former student of Corte Madera (class of 2015) and Ormondale (Class of 2011), I have to say that the image that this author is portraying of the conditions of the school buildings are incredibly unfair. Not once did I notice any sort of leaking roof or mold growing, etc. Rather, my experience was that the buildings were very nice and kept in good shape. As I am not a taxpayer, I do not think the tax increase is that big of a deal, but this money could definitely be used elsewhere on more important issues.

18 people like this
Posted by Also Class of ‘15
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:30 pm

I was also in the class of ‘15 at cms. Like the above commenter mentioned, I don’t think the writer really knows what they’re talking about. Making complete generalizations about the overall state of the campus is inaccurate and misleading. Some of the buildings definitely need repairs and/or reconstruction. And the bathrooms also are in desperate need of upgrade. HOWEVER many of the buildings are in good condition and hence a bond measure of the current size seems out of proportion. The writer should take a tour for themselves and look at each individual classroom in the current state. After gaining this perspective I believe the article and its accuracy could be updated and improved.

9 people like this
Posted by Bill Wall
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Oct 16, 2018 at 9:26 am

No on Z.

4 people like this
Posted by Anne F.
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 16, 2018 at 11:06 pm

Anne F. is a registered user.

Our facilities are outdated - some are almost 60 years old and don’t meet today’s standards for health or safety. Sometimes these issues aren’t visible to the outside observer — like issues with mold and moisture that are found in air ducts or behind vinyl wallpaper. Other issues have been more visible, such as broken water pipes or outdated heating systems. When you’re dealing with buildings of this age, things fall apart and this is unacceptable for our schools. The cost of maintaining outdated facilities is incredibly expensive and does not create the best environment for our kids. We need Measure Z to make these necessary upgrades and support a quality education.

7 people like this
Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Oct 18, 2018 at 8:03 am

This is the most lavish spending proposal ever put before the voters here. With the interest, the cost is approximately $100 million, taken from the community via property taxes that no longer qualify for a tax deduction.

The public has resisted this repeatedly and the superintendent has plowed ahead hoping not enough of us take notice to vote.

The rationale has shifted (read past almanac articles and check the comments). It's now "it's more costly to maintain than to rebuild." But none of the cited repairs validate. And they always generalize the worst-case part of one building to project a crisis. It's disingenuous and politically manipulative at best. You'd think I'm sending my kids to a leaky, rat-infested, lead-painted, mold-spewing, asbestos-stuffed crackhouse.

If anything, the schools suffer from poor maintenance and administration, which can be addressed by revisiting both. Or we could just spend $97,000,000 and do it again every 15 years.

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