Las Lomitas school district considers another bond measure | February 7, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

Schools - February 7, 2018

Las Lomitas school district considers another bond measure

by Barbara Wood

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.

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