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Measure Z: $49.5 million Portola Valley School District bond measure leads

Original post made on Nov 6, 2018

Preliminary election night results show Measure Z, a $49.5 million bond to pay for repairs, renovations and new buildings on the Portola Valley School District's two campuses, leading.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 6, 2018, 9:08 PM

Comments (13)

36 people like this
Posted by Enough
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Nov 6, 2018 at 10:27 pm

Thanks voters for sticking home owners with more taxes on top of more taxes. We already pay the highest taxes in the country!! So now I get to pay $30,000 +$900 a year on property tax! What a joke... Democrats solution to everything is to raise taxes! How about spend less!! I'm done with this state.

31 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Nov 7, 2018 at 6:54 am

We wanted to wash our hands of this school district, with its endemic racism and bullying, embittered staff and incompetent management born of entitlement and privilege, with minimal checks and balances. Now gullible parents have ensured residents will be rewarding PVSD for their continued mismanagement of public funds for the next 25 years. Do yourselves a favor: watch very carefully how our money is wasted, and teach your kids that Portola Valley is a bubble they will be lucky to escape from intact.

17 people like this
Posted by Thouroughly
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Nov 7, 2018 at 8:22 am

Thanks for voting for a two story teachers lounge!


6 people like this
Posted by Yes
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Nov 7, 2018 at 8:42 am

Yes let’s spend money and educate our children and youth so they dont end up like the moron that’s running our country. Yes!!!

9 people like this
Posted by relax
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2018 at 9:26 am

@enough.... so you're annoyed that you're paying another $900 on your $30K tax bill? On your $2M+ house? Yes, go ahead and live somewhere else. You'll probably do well on the sale of your very nice home and you can go whine somewhere else. Maybe if you wait for the repairs to the schools, your home will sell for even more.... imagine that!

33 people like this
Posted by Moving Forward
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Nov 7, 2018 at 12:03 pm

I'm very disappointed this passed. To my Yes-On-Z friends, know that we can both support the schools and kids AND vote against this. I can love my child without buying them a new Porsche just because they dinged up their Mazda.

Rather than rant on with divisive rhetoric, here's what you can do:

(1) Talk to your school board representatives. This money is authorized but not yet spent. They have the power to exercise some critical thinking, leadership and restraint instead of just nodding and going along. The superintendent will be gone in a year or two but all of us will still be here. Email them at or reach out to them.

Karyn Bechtel
Brooke Day
Jeff Klugman
Gulliver La Valle
Mike Maffia

(2) watch how it's spent and watch the enrollment trends

(3) Go to the planning meetings and be active. All meetings are published here: Web Link

(4) Watch the schools budgeting. We're in this mess because the schools diverted funds away from maintenance.

(5) Vote - there will be many more times that the school district asks for more money because of sad teachers or leaky classrooms or future bad maintenance. Mark my words: within 2 years your mailbox will have fresh new mailers of cute kids and perky teachers. This never ends. Please be active.

28 people like this
Posted by Yes on Malfeasance
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Nov 7, 2018 at 4:04 pm

So, you didn’t vote on this issue? Congratulations, you just stuck it to the rest of us.

You voted for this? Lovely. Since you didn’t make any appearances at any of the meetings, you truly have no idea how this is going to go down. The plan is for 70 - 80million dollars. In two years (Moving Forward is correct) they will be asking for another roughly 30 million dollars. That’s a direct quote from several meetings discussing strategy for getting PV residents to fund this.

The two story building at CMS that’s going to cost almost ALL OF THIS CURRENT BOND MEASURE—-did you read this article carefully?—is costing TWO AND A HALF TIMES what the brand new, huge, star of the art STEM building cost at WHS. That building was finished on budget, and on time (in less than a year.) It cost 18 million, all in.

Maybe you should ask the questions that beg to be asked: WHY IS A MIDDLE SCHOOL BUILDING (serving 300 students) HALF THE SIZE OF A HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING (serving 1800 students) GOING TO COST 2 1/2 TIMES AS MUCH??

The plans have not been finalized and the money has not been allocated. DEMAND A COMPLETE REDESIGN. DEMAND ANSWERS. PARRICIPATE IN THE PROCESS. There is no reason why we have to accept an overpriced, overdesigned, unacceptable showpiece that serves only to bolster Eric Hartwig’s resume.

9 people like this
Posted by Ambivilent
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Nov 8, 2018 at 10:37 am

It's too bad this kind of focus and money/ask/bond couldn't have been directed toward housing for teachers/staff/administration, firefighters, low income housing in PV instead -- or even for subsidizing their current rent, etc.

The PV school district can build the Taj Mahal, but unless we have the personnel to facilitate the real magic in this scenario, the MILLIONS will be wasted.

I am afraid PV has done this backwards.

16 people like this
Posted by PV Taxpayer
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Nov 8, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Given the number of renters in town it raises the question should only property owners be allowed to vote on property taxes? If you don't have any skin in the game, should you have a voice in taxing people who do? To many of us this tax is very expensive and over the top.

Like this comment
Posted by Bond Supportet
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Nov 9, 2018 at 10:48 am


Well, the comments above are certainly lively and passionate, but let's remember that fifty and sixty year old school buildings tend to not renovate themselves. Yes, a little bit more deferred maintenance might have occurred that would have stretched the buildings' useful life by five years or so, but most of the physical infrastructure is simply at the end of its useful life. The campuses were also designed in another era--the new buildings will reflect the way students learn now and will be built out of steel and concrete and glass curtain walls. They will last a hundred years if maintained correctly and they will indeed be shiny and new.

Will they be too nice? Well, that may be an open question, but you only get to design a building once. Perhaps the architect of Sequoia High School should have value engineered all the beautiful plaster detail on the exterior, eliminated the bell tower and the wide interior hallways, re-sized the massive bronze main doors, and designed a very simple auditorium. Or used cheaper building materials? But I am most certainly glad that he didn't. (And the 94 year old all copper heating system still delivers hot water to the building's radiators after all these years--the boilers and pumps are new but 90% of the original system is still in service fifty years after it reached 'end-of-life).

Certainly, a little value engineering of the project is appropriate but the new facilities are designed to provide a great learning environment for a very long period of time. (They will be in service decades after all of us are dead and no one will even know who Eric Hartwig was--sorry Eric, that is just the way it is). And the facilities will seem like a great bargain in 2068. Case in point, the entire Menlo Park community was horrified in 1951 that 40 acres in Atherton and the first phase of construction at M-A cost a whopping 1.8 million dollars. A gross misuse of public funds or the world's most amazing bargain?).

Likely my comments have changed no one's view, but I do very much look forward to seeing steel rising up into the sky and students hard at work in their new digs.

Like this comment
Posted by Opinion
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 9, 2018 at 5:59 pm

So Portola has roughly 3500 people of voting age and so far 1067 supporters of this measure to 680 opposed, with more ballots to be counted.

However, most of the comments are from those opposed (the minority). I'd like to hear from the supporters so it's not a one sided discussion.

As for whether renters should vote, don't you think that many landlords pass their increased taxes to their tenants? Shouldn't renters have a say? And don't some of them have children too (now, past or future)? Renters are residents with the same rights as owners.

If the school board has designed a Taj Mahal when something more modest would do, please contact the school board.

12 people like this
Posted by Re: Opinion
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Nov 9, 2018 at 7:17 pm

If you like, please refer to the comment just above yours (curtain glass doors and two story building built of steel, views of the hills, etc.) and to the publicly posted current design (can be found in previous Alamanac articles). The very reason people are objecting to this bond measure is the overdesign of the project, especially give the falling enrollment and the fact that this is a small town middle school. This is not a high school. This is a middle school serving just over 300 kids.

As to the comments re: the failing buildings that are 40-60 years old, the problem is that they were, in fact, renovated just 15 years ago. PVSD still has not finished paying off those bonds. Lack of oversight also resulted in embezzlement from the Superintendent, which really finished everyone off on the "trust" issue.

There are many of us who simply cannot defend why renovation or replacement of buildings has to be done at the level that is being requested. As well, for those not born and bred in California (including several members of the School Board), we know that buildings do not have to built in a 80 million dollar manner in order to brave the elements and keep the teachers, students and staff healthy and comfortable. Nobody objects to windows and design that looks out over the hills. We object to two story walls of windows with extraordinary/expensive design, and with a footprint that extends out over the recently completely renovated and replaced playground.

We are all sure there is a happy medium here. Why can't this be addressed? The current design was approved by the PREVIOUS school board. We are all sure there are ways to bring the price under control without sacrificing safety and quality of construction, while not wasting yet more money by pulling out stuff that has just been put down.

You, as a member of the Woodside community, surely must remember the fiasco re: the embezzlement, since Hanretty was your Superintendent as well. Woodside got screwed over when he falsified the loans and stuck it to the community for over 2 million dollars, when he had been approved for under a million. Woodside is still paying that off.

Bottom line is this: We all want the best for the kids and staff. But we fail to see why this has to cost 80 million dollars, and nobody will give us any answers.

2 people like this
Posted by Enough
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Nov 12, 2018 at 12:15 pm

@Relax, is that you Eric Hartwig and your bloated salary for such a small district. Taxes on top of taxes on top of taxes! My salary hasn't gone up. Maybe I have 2+ million dollar because I work hard. Thanks for raising my taxes. You probably believe everything coming out of the Democrats mouths too! Don't worry I'll be gone while you struggling, but hey at least you'll have your high taxes, crumbling roads, home invasion robberies, and a school system that ho to " special conferences " on how to raise money.

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