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.