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Board sets $378 million school-bond vote

Original post made on Feb 27, 2008

Palo Alto schools will be getting bigger and better, school board members said Tuesday as they unanimously approved putting a $378 million bond measure on the June 3 ballot.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 27, 2008, 1:11 AM

Comments (48)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2008 at 9:22 am

This bond has to pass first and I am not sure it will. I have been talking to many friends and neighbors who are long term residents and not yet seniors. They are not willing or able to pay for one more bond, let alone two. It is nothing to do with being anti-school, it is to do with finances. There are many people in this category and since even many with school age kids seem to be against it, I feel that this is going to fail.


Posted by Danny, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2008 at 10:30 am

Doubt there's much hope for this bond passing considering many of us still have a bitter taste in our mouths from the B4E fiasco.


Posted by marie, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2008 at 10:35 am

If you read the article, it states that the bond measure would not increase the current tax placed, but extend it to 2024.


Posted by Anti-Luddite, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 27, 2008 at 11:17 am

Redident writes, "I have been talking to many friends and neighbors who are long term residents and not yet seniors."

As a newcomer who is VERY INTERESTED in this bond, I have more reason to oppose the bond than your friends. First, any long-time resident will be paying $44.50 on their ASSESSED value, not their home's real value. Thanks to proposition 13, they will be paying less than half the taxes that I will for a comparable home if they have lived here a decade and WAY less if your long time residents are here for twenty of thirty years.

I get financing, but these are the people with the most to gain. They get ramped up schools that people will want to attend at a fraction of the cost. I think your friends need to review their thinking.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2008 at 11:56 am

AL

I think you get my friends wrong. These are long time residents who are not hitech execs but hard working blue collar types. These people have had their kids grow up in the schools, some put their kids through community college, and are now just about getting by on their salaries. They want to stay in the area and live in the home their kids grew up in so they have no real concern about how their property value is increasing because of the schools. They cannot afford two more bonds on top of all the other increases in daily living. It isn't that they are not interested, it is that they can't afford to pay out more. For them, they have to look at their incomes and if their taxes go up, then they have to cut corners elsewhere. It may not mean that they can't afford to eat, but it may mean that they can't afford to change a 10 year car, or visit their grown up kids out of state or pay to get their gardening done or their home painted. The latter two possibilities does affect us all as we don't like dilapadated homes in our neighborhood, do we?

So, don't just say that these long time residents are rubbing their hands in glee because their taxes are lower than yours. They are just wondering if they can afford to live here on their much lower incomes than yours.


Posted by Just Say NO!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2008 at 1:19 pm

> just wondering if they can afford to live here
> on their much lower incomes than yours.

This bond runs for 40 years. There is no reason to believe that there won't be several more pushed by the special interests behind the PAUSD--not to mention more parcel taxes and ever higher attempts to raise private funding.

People who are in the very high, two income (over $200K) brackets need to think about their retirement. Property taxes go up 2% a year--which doesn't seem like much, but will double before this property bond is retired.

If you are paying over $10,000 a year now--you could be easily paying well over $20,000 a year during your retirement years!

Voting YES for this monster could easily be setting the stage for your having to move before you want to, in order to avoid paying +20,000+ property taxes in your retirement years.

Think about this -- long and hard!


Posted by Who?, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 27, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Who are the "special interests behind the PUASD" - people with children?


Posted by numbers game, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 27, 2008 at 3:02 pm

"If you read the article, it states that the bond measure would not increase the current tax placed, but extend it to 2024."

Oh, that's all right then. I guess if they want to extend your lease on your car another 30 years you'd be happy to do it. After all, they're not increasing the current monthly amount.


Posted by Just Say NO!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2008 at 3:11 pm

> "If you read the article, it states that
> the bond measure would not increase the
> current tax placed

The tax rate for the property bonds will be constant. But these are "ad valorem" taxes -- so with the 2% escalator, the tax on a property goes up every year--meaning that the taxes paid to the PAUSD on these bonds goes up every year.


Posted by Vote YES, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Feb 27, 2008 at 3:45 pm

If you are already a homeowner in P.A. then your tax doesn't change with this Bond. Your continued tax allocation to pay down this bond will be an investment in improving the schools for a longer-term.

If one sees being a homeowner equal to being a real estate investor (a questionable tactic), then consider this portion of one's property tax as potentially paying off in the future when you go to realize property value and you attract a buyer by touting one of P.A.'s biggest buying attractions - local PUBLIC SCHOOLS!!

Read last week's Weekly on how much the district learned from the last bond measure.


Posted by Just Say NO!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2008 at 4:36 pm

> If you are already a homeowner in P.A. then
> your tax doesn't change with this Bond

This is NOT TRUE. The add-on Tax rate for this Bond stays the same -- but because the assessed value of the property increases yearly -- your taxes go up yearly!


Posted by cost vs. benefits, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2008 at 5:01 pm

The spin starts:

- There is no increase in tax with this bond
- Your tax doesn't change with this bond

How are they going to get an additional $378 million if there is no change in tax and the tax doesn't increase?

Don't try to spin it, tell people what they need to know. How much they will be paying over the lifetime of the bond per $100,000 of assessed value and compare it to what they are paying for the current bond. Explain why it is needed and what benefits there will be.

You really do your cause a disservice by trying to belittle the impact of this measure. The spin attempted above would just make me laugh as I voted "No". If you can explain the cost and benefits you may be able to convince me.


Posted by pass, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 27, 2008 at 6:57 pm

It only takes a 55% YES vote to pass. They could have asked for twice that and it would still succeed.


Posted by Anti-Luddite, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 27, 2008 at 7:48 pm

Obviously taxes will rise by 2% if the tax rate stays at $44.50 for the life of the bond, so JUST SAY NO! is correct. However, inflation and any adjustment to social security, most retirements, etc. will most certainly be more than 2%, so the real cost to folks is going down over time because $44.50 is worth less over time, and considerably less in 35 years.

This bond is going to pass. Over 90%of the bonds of this type, with lots of tax increases, have passed since 2000. There's just no way this community, with its commitment to education is not going to pass this reasonable tax rate continuation. The district has a responsibility to do this right and I believe they will.


Posted by Just Say No!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2008 at 8:17 pm

> so the real cost to folks is going down over time
> because $44.50 is worth less over time, and considerably
> less in 35 years.

If there were no Bond deduction from our tax bills because the Measure B bond was retired and the School District began to manage its resources better than it has in the past--then there would be a lot more money in people's pocket than if this Monster has its way with retired people's fragile income streams. Downstream, the retired people will be paying well over $20,000 a year for property taxes -- not the $1,000 to $1,500 which most of the currently retired people (who lived here in 1976) are paying.


Posted by SG, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 27, 2008 at 10:07 pm

The excellent schools in PA are the #1 reason why our property values are high and resilient to the housing downturn. $45 per 100k assessed value will provide a great return on investment with the home equity gains we will realize. PA home values are up 16% in the past year while Mountain View is up only 7% and Redwood City only 2%. I would agree with the naysayers if we had bad schools in PA with no track record of success - but we don't and the PAUSD has proven it can keep the schools high caliber with the right resources. Vote YES to extend this tax if you are a homeowner, whether you have school-age kids or not!


Posted by Freida Leigh, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 27, 2008 at 11:25 pm

I will not vote for this bond.


Posted by solon, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 28, 2008 at 12:23 am

As is well known in educational circles, including e.g. Stanford, there is NO CONNECTION between money expended and outcome in student achievement.
These schools are AWASH in money, high salaries, very high administration ratios, high maintenance, etc. Where is the improvement (and in what?) from the last half-billion?

Second, ARE PALO ALTO SCHOOLS REALLY ANY GOOD AT ALL? Yes, there are many great kids, many achievers, many attending 'name' schools, etc., but it this a 'school effect?'
Laswt bond issue, we were ranked high due to 1) high income level of community, 2) high education level of community and so on, dedicated parents,stable households, time spent with the kids, activities,such as sports, theater, violin, you name it, test prep courses, tutors, well,what has any of this to do with the schools?

Are government schools even a significant factor in how well many of these good kids do? Kids have parochial schools, secular schools, Christian schools, Jewish schools, and home schooling, there is a real question about even the need for government schools, let alone whether they are positive or negative,as they are for many of the kids who attend them.
Where is the objective data on the SCHOOLS as opposed to aggregate test data on the STUDENTS?

Sorry, the money argument doesn't wash. MORE MONEY does not change STUDENT OUTCOMES.

But, who wants to kill the real estate golden goose? No one. So, "the schools are excellent!" What's another half billion ( in round numbers.)


At the very least, there should be school choice law, as in say Iowa, a child can go to any government school I think they want to, so schools have to keep up or lose students.
This is fairer, gives parents more control and satisfaction, creates a fluid market for good teachers, and operates efficiently to gently weed out schools, principals and teachers who maybe should perhaps be doing something else. Good teaching is hard, takes time, is a difficult skill, and just can't be done well by everyone who gets tenure in a few years.

SO, please, vote the money if you want, but don't think it will help the students at all, but I agree it may help real estate values to drive by better looking buildings.



Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2008 at 12:30 am

Solon,

A source for your claim that at Stanford they know there's NO CONNECTION between money expended and outcome in student achievement.

Because that strikes me as contradicting the studies that indicate that class size and school size have an effect on student outcome


Posted by Just Say No!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2008 at 5:04 am

> Because that strikes me as contradicting the studies
> that indicate that class size and school size have
> an effect on student outcome

The following links provide information on studies that demonstrate no/limited improved student performance based on class-size reductions:

www.fiu.edu/orgs/cea/documents/classsize_rschud.doc
Web Link

The leading proponent of the prevailing view that money doesn't make a difference has been Eric A. Hanushek, now of the Hoover Institution. Dr. Hanushek has played two roles. As a scholar, he has conducted a series of influential literature reviews that support the conclusion that increased spending in general, and smaller class size in particular, do not "systematically" lead to improved student achievement. There have been hundreds of research studies that attempt to assess the relationship of spending and achievement. Dr. Hanushek has found that, in some cases, the relationship is positive, but in others no positive relationship can be discerned, either because the relationship is negative or because it is statistically insignificant.

There are some studies that show that for "disadvantaged" kids in grades 1-3 that class size reduction is beneficial. However, any improvement that these kids seem to show in these early grades disappears as they get older.
Studies showing improvement based on class size reduction typically are paid for by the education establishment.


Posted by perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2008 at 7:02 am

Thanks Just...this is an old and circular argument.

The simplest way to show that expenditures haven't a linear correlation with academic achievement is to note that DC, with the highest per student expenditure in the nation, has the lowest student achievement rates. (Last I checked, they spent over $15,000/year/kid on operating expenses. Fixed expenses, like facilities, likely added another $5,000/year in total per student yearly expenditures, for a total of $20,000/year/kid.)

Or, in reverse, Challenger Schools charge less than $10,000/year, TOTAL, and end up with kids who perform in the top percentile on national tests. So, less than 1/2 the DC kids, or if you want to compare to PAUSD, at $17,000/year/kid total, roughly 2/3rds of what PAUSD spends.

Obviously, there are differences in student cultural demographics between private schools and public, between public schools in DC and public schools here. But, that is also not the whole story.

How about the public schools with similar demographics that spend much more even here in California, and perform no better than PAUSD..such as in Marin County?

At some point, the extra art or PE or fancy elementary school science labs or High School drama departments mean nothing in improved academic performance, and predict nothing in enhanced adult citizenship.

Beyond that, the old wives tale that spending more automatically means better academic output will simply continue to exist as a false "truism".




Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2008 at 8:43 am

Take out of the equation whether or not the schools are good or bad.

Instead, talk about the quality of the infrastructure of the schools. If your home was in the state that many of our school buildings are in, you would remodel, or move into something more modern. Many of our school buildings, not necessarily the classrooms, are of the quality that if a home they would be leveled and rebuilt. The gyms, the Tower building at Paly, the Haymarket theatre at Paly, the pool at Gunn, are in need of demolition and being rebuilt. The quality of the textbooks in our language departments and the fact that they have no technology available to teach foreign language (apart from Mandarin).

Ask your students what they do about eating lunch in the hot sun or the rain? Ask your students if they can use the locker rooms to shower after sports? Ask your students if they have seen leaks when it rains?

Now ask yourself if you would live in these conditions?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2008 at 11:18 am

Just,

I don't equate Hoover with Stanford--I think we all know that Hoover is a conservative think tank, whereas the university as a whole is not. What you wrote, while not technically wrong, is a little misleading.

Perspective

Re: DC--does it have the lowest achievement rates for kids from similar socio-economic backgrounds? DC has one of the poorest and poorly educated populations in the country. Are DC schools really doing worse than districts serving similar populations in Mississippi?

California went to having one of the best public school systems into the country to one of the lowest ranked after Prop. 13 kicked in. It has started to climb back up somewhat with an increase of spending in the schools.

Parent's right--we have basic infrastructure needs--because one of the effects of the post-Prop. 13 environment is that districts pretty much quit building new schools. Our buildings are old. When was the last time the district built a truly new school?


Posted by perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2008 at 1:34 pm

It has started to climb up from the pressures of NCLB, and from finally realizing that the way we taught English and Math in our schools was horrible.

The point is not if equally "poor" areas do worse or better dependent on money, the point is that money is not what makes or breaks an education.

I was raised "poor" if you use what passes as "poor" in standard of living by today's standards....but with an intact family who valued school above all else so that the kids would have a better life than the parents...like getting my homework done. so I completely and categorically reject the premise that poor=poor results in education. It is FAMILY, not money, that makes or breaks a kids' education.

The poor in Missouri, and I mean POOR, spend much less per student than the poor in DC, yet the kids do better. How do I know? Because by definition, if the worst students are in DC, then every other state is doing better. What is the difference?

hmmm


Posted by perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2008 at 1:35 pm

As for labeling Hoover a conservative think tank...can you name the liberal think tanks and where they are located?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Vote No! As a long time resident of Palo Alto, I am well aware of the amount of pork spending in the school district. Stop giving the school district a blank check. They have squandered a majority of the money in the past and will do it again. This bond will place an enormous burden on the lives of those about to enter retirement. Let's see if the school district can live within the generous budget they have at their disposal, even with the prior bond timing out. It was never meant to go on without end. Apparently, reading some of these posts, a minority of residents think it's just fine for the district to expect that bonds will never expire. That's not what the residents of Palo Alto voted for. VOTE NO!


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2008 at 11:08 pm

Perspective,

Liberal think tank--the Brookings Institute in D.C. Hoover runs pretty separately from the rest of Stanford--always has. Which I don't consider a big issue, just a fact. As is its conservative reputation. I've known some Hoover scholars--they never denied the institute's conservatism, though one said that there was more variety of opinion within it than was generally thought. The other was a former professor of mine at another college--proud neocon--and glad to be among those who shared his views.

As for Missouri v. DC you're leaving out the obvious difference--which is that Missouri has a greater *range* of socio-economic diversity than does DC. So you're not doing an accurate comparison of poor to poor if you're comparing all Missouri students to all DC students. Different rates of poverty.

California's gradual climb up from the depths predates NCLB by several years.




Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2008 at 8:58 am

I have been to two separate presentations showing technology available for classrooms this week. This technology is wonderful, is what our kids need to learn in the 21st century, is what other schools all over the country are using as a matter of course, and is very expensive. We are in the heart of Silicon Valley, in what purports to be a wealthier area, and we have very little of this technology for our students.

We need to keep up to date with all our computers, hardware and software.
We need to keep up to date with the latest teaching tools for students of all ages and abilities.
We need to keep ahead of the curve when it comes to technology that enables our schools to be safe places for learning.
We need to make our science, language, technology, english, social studies, etc. programs the best available to enable our students to learn.
We need to have our students use the best technology to give them a heads up when competing for college places and future careers. Even for students not heading to 4 year colleges, it is hard to get any type of skilled apprenticeship without technological training.

Our schools need to invest $$$ into the technology for teaching before we start dropping behind the state of the art. Otherwise, it will be like using chalk and slates, or log tables and slide rules.


Posted by PA Dad, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 29, 2008 at 10:16 am

I'm very suspicious of calls to add ever more information technology to the classroom, especially in elementary school. Not only is the technology very expensive, it's also very costly to maintain. You also get very little lifetime-use for your money. Nothing ages faster than a PC. And I'm not convinced that it ever offers much educational value.

What I want my child to learn in elementary school is how to read, write and reason. None of those things require her sitting in front of a screen.

Indeed, my child's school is still using slates to learn to form letters and I'm tremendously thankful for it. Slates are a perfect technological solution to the task in hand.

In the higher grades, maybe there are reasons to use IT more. But I think word processors should be kept out of the classroom until children can write and spell. I think calculators should be discouraged until children can add, subtract, multiply and divide.



Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2008 at 10:38 am

PA Dad

I used to agree with you until I saw demonstrations of what is available. I am not talking about glorified calculators or word processors.
El Carmelo has sound equalization technology that enables every child to hear what the teacher is saying from every desk in the room, regardless of any hums from a/c or children doing pe outside. Paly has trains that go by every so often and the teacher has to stop teaching until such time as the train passes because no one can hear above the train. El Carmelo has one teacher who almost had to give up teaching because she was having so many voice problems until this technology came along.

I have a highschooler doing Spanish and the only technology he sees is from the occasional video, not dvd. Back when I went to school technology in language classrooms was about the only technology available, now we have almost none.

The dialer system for our secondary schools is mercifully being replaced with a system something like the CANS system from the City. But, do you realise students are still walking around our schools with roll sheets to mark attendance.

I am not talking about technology to prevent our kids from learning the basics. I am talking about a technological infrastructure which makes our schools as advanced as our homes.


Posted by perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2008 at 5:32 pm

No, California was ranked 49th in the nation 7 years ago.

That does not pre-date NCLB

I never hear folks say "The Brookings Institute, a liberal think tank" was my point. Yet, every time I hear "Hoover", I hear "a conservative think tank" to "qualify" it, as if this is somehow a disqualifier. In fact, you are completely correct, it has quite a diverse staff, with the emphasis being on FACTUAL, LOGICAL and THOROUGHLY WELL THOUGHT out, non-agendized, research, not emotional or partisan research. Which is why it ends up sounding conservative so often, because conservative thinking is factual, logical.


Washington DC does, indeed, have much richer people than Missouri..if that is what you mean by different levels of economics..so how does that negate my point? If anything it makes my point stronger. More rich folks SHOULD mean better school outcomes.,..but DC still has the worst outcomes in the nation for the most money per student.

Unless for some reason you are trying to imply that DC has POORER people than Missouri, which can't be what you mean?? Or are you trying to say that anyone who can afford to get out of the public schools in DC, does?

If that is the case, then DC desperately needs vouchers to give the rest of the kids a chance. Actually, I would like to see every failing school district "vouchered"...poor kids stuck in failing schools, when if given the tax money to go spend on non-religious private schools, would be able to get in with other kids and families who are dedicated to learning.


Posted by perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2008 at 5:34 pm

Imagine if every kid in DC could take the money being spent on their failing public education, and choose a private non-religious school instead that would teach them. Imagine the competition that would spring up, so that kids who learn best "the Ohlone way" could go to such schools, or the "Hoover" way, or a smaller class way, or all girls or all boys way..the possibilities are great. I feel very sorry for stuck kids.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2008 at 6:03 pm

vouchers for non-religious private schools?

You need more of a qualifier than this. What about non-sports schools, non-immersion of one particular language school, non gender schools. To name but a few.

As soon as you start exclusionary tactics, you have to exclude all schools which lean towards a particular leaning. You can't just talk religion in a case like this.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 1, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Perspective,

I've heard Brookings called "a liberal think tank"--I think you're searching for a way to justify a chip on your shoulder. You hear what you expect to hear, basically.

As for logical and well thought-out--I knew one of the scholars quite well and was able to out-argue him. There are people of varying abilities on both sides of the political spectrum.

DC's student body is not full of rich kids--doesn't matter who lives in DC, per se--it's which kids are in the public school system. People with any sort of means have their kids in private schools or live outside the district.

Also, of course, different cost-of-living--something which should be calculated when considering bang-for-the-buck.

As for your claim that the NCLB brought up California's ranking a tad--sorry, since the NCLB applied to *all* states, why would California be more affected than other states?

And if public spending has no effect on public schools how do you explain that the consistently highest ranked states are in the east in tax-and-spend states like Vermont and Connecticut? In fact, DC is more the exception that proves the rule that spending does have some correlation to performance in most case.

I'm not impressed by vouchers--private schools can reject students, public schools can't. That affects school performance--so I don't buy the voucher miracle--it's not an even playing field.


Posted by PA Student, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 1, 2008 at 7:25 pm

I cannot believe that some are actually considering voting against this bond! If you live in Palo Alto, half the reason your house is even worth what it is, is due to the Palo Alto Unified School District.

You know what's even more pathetic? It's these same, proud, stingy people who always say that today's youth is twice as spoiled and half as smart as they were in their own youth. Maybe if you funded education and supported bonds like these that would help build up and improve facilities, we'd be as smart as you.

As a student, I don't see the results of the bond as "better tests scores" or "higher academic achievement." I particularly hope this bond will pass because, for instance, the theater program deserves a stage that wasn't built in the Stone Age. The bond is about improving facilities!! Buildings get old, classrooms begin to fall apart. That's life. You're going to have to pass this bond someday, why not now when there's already a need??

Plus, taxes aren't going UP. It's staying the same because the B4E money is almost paid off.

Schools need money. You have money. (Don't act like you don't.) Where's the issue?


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 2, 2008 at 7:43 am

My daughter is a senior at PALY, and her brother graduated from there 3 years ago. Consequently, our family has done a great number of college visits the last few years, and the condition of the facilities at different places is an eye opener.

Sad to say, some of the places we have visited with the most marginal classroom, lecture halls, labs, dorms, etc. are UC's. Many of them have a number of buildings and other facilities that are showing their age and heavy use. They are tired, obsolete, and appear to this lay observer to be less conducive to learning and other aspects of education as a consequence.

By contrast, we also have seen several schools that have upgraded and updated a great deal of their physical plant. Some of these are schools that have been around for many decades, and have buildings that have a quaint outside appearance, but are much more in keeping with the times we live in once you step inside. They come across to a visitor as much more conducive and more effective to a thriving learning environment.

Admittedly there are differences between what happens at college and what occurs in primary and secondary school. My point is that we really don't know how marginal our facilities are without the benefit of seeing how much better and effective they are elsewhere, where they have been upgraded instead of maintained in a state that dates back to the 1970's or before. I agree with the poster above that it is like living in a house that is in need of remodeling, only more so.

I am pretty involved in this community, and I think that we suffer from a mis-perception that infrastructure of various kinds does not need to be well maintained and from time to time fully renovated after a useful life. Such delusional thinking leads to things deteriorating to the point where is becomes even more costly to make the necessary improvements when they finally do occur, or things that had been valued getting shut down because it has become too costly to finally make the upgrades that are needed.

Upgrading facilities after many years is unavoidable in any community including ours. It is disingenuous to think that everything is just fine and the many needs that have been identified are frivolous or "pork." People making such assertions ought to take some tours of our school facilities, and then see what they look like at schools that are up to date. Ditto with libraries.


Posted by constructionist, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2008 at 8:40 am

I think the point for a lot of us, to take the "remodel of house" allegory, is that when a house gets too old and in need of too much remodeling, it is less expensive in the long run to demolish it and start over.

I would support demolishing single story buildings and putting in new 2 stories. They will last another couple generations, not take up valuable play space, and allow for more student growth.

I am not in favor of pouring money into the same layouts we have now, which in the end will cost as much as simply tearing down and rebuilding for a lot of the buildings. When you touch more than 2 walls in any building, the cost of retrofitting rivals tear-down start over.

NOTE: Private schools do better on facilities management, which is one reason you see better facilities. The market drives decisions.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 2, 2008 at 11:49 am

Private school have better facility management and funding. The private school in the area, Castilleja, Menlo and especially Bellamine, have HUGE endowments. Its much easier to keep up your facilities if you can raise 30-50 million for a new gym from the parents and alumni of your 400+ students...


Posted by parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 2, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Sometimes I have the impression that there has not been a great deal of planning in the public school system for long-term facilities management; financial needs are always presented as a sudden crisis instead of putting aside a bit of money each year on reserve and then having enough to for obvious needs such as periodically repairing/replacing the roofs of our schools. I know lots of $$ in the school system has strings attached - so, it cannot be allocated for this. I know it's an incredible bureaucracy. Nevertheless, where is the basic planning? Is it done like this everywhere in all school districts in the US? By the way, some of us are paying astronomical property taxes, it is already an extreme burden.


Posted by sigh, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2008 at 9:31 am

For those who remember the good old days when Palo Alto was a true enducational lighthouse and was not merely skating on its reputation, the current state of education in this City is just depressing. To be the best of one of the worst states in the country in education is not really that impressive. To have to cut arts, music, PE, and other things from the curriculum in order to meet state standards, also not impressive. The state of the District from the top down (maybe not the top since Skelly has come in) is phenomenally dysfunctional. And it is laughable to claim that the property values in Palo Alto stem from its schools. They stem at least as much, if not more, from its proximity to Stanford.

All that being said, I have more faith in the current Board and Superintendent's ability to manage the Dstrict and its budget than in previous ones. Not sure how I'll vote on the Bond, because I am still pretty bitter from the last umpteen years, but I might be convinced . . . if the proponents and District would give real numbers etc. and not keep telling us that our short-term bond is equal to one I will be paying off possibly until I die (even assuming no additional bonds, whichis a pretty pie in the sky assumption).


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2008 at 10:45 am

Sigh,

By your reasoning, there shouldn't be a huge price differential between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, nor should there be any difference between Menlo Park and Palo Alto. All are close to Stanford.

That said, so far, I've liked Skelly, but feel pretty bitter about the last few years. I'd like a couple of guarantees with this bond--like no elementary schools being pushed above their upper-enrollment limits. I don't want elementary schools with 500 kids in them and playing fields taken up by modular classrooms.

I'd like to think there's been a turnaround in the district's management, but it's been a very short time since the Callan fiasco.

If we pass the bond, what guarantees do we get of future good behavior? And how do we know that there won't be more vying for the money and new space by boutique programs while the majority of kids are woefully underserved in what used to be basic programs like art, PE and music?

(Oh, and about that FLES?)


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2008 at 11:07 am

PAUSD is probably one of the only school districts in the state that is actually starting up a new program this year. And they have the audacity to ask for money.

No, if they've got money for new start up experiements, they obviously are FLUSH with cash (or demonstrating REALLY poor judgement). No on bond.

I'm also not going to give my daughter money to buy a new pair of jeans if she's spending all her allowance money on Itunes.


Posted by no more bonds, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2008 at 3:47 pm

NO more bonds! and NO extensions!


Posted by PA Student, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 6, 2008 at 5:04 pm

Parent, if you're referring to FLES as the "new program," I believe it's cost neutral.


Posted by Arden Pennell, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Mar 6, 2008 at 5:13 pm

Arden Pennell is a registered user.

I'd like to clarify the article I wrote: the proposed $378 million bond measure is for a facilities upgrade. It is not for a complete overhaul of classroom teaching or program, but rather for facilities that are aging and need renovation, replacement or enlargement, according to the district.

From the ballot statement:

Proceeds from the sale of bonds authorized by this proposition shall be used only for the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of school facilities ...

See the statement and proposed projects at the following link, page 16:

Web Link


Here is an earlier article about the measure:
Web Link

I hope that clarifies the money's proposed use.
Arden


Posted by Not Neutral, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 6, 2008 at 7:32 pm

FLES as proposed by the FLES Task Force had a price tag a bit over $1 million, and my understanding was that the figure did not necessarily include all costs. I don't believe anyone claimed it was cost neutral as proposed by the task force. On the other hand, it has not been adopted by PAUSD and it appears uncertain (unlikely?) that it will be.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2008 at 8:57 am

Don't get confused.

MI is starting this fall. It is supposedly a cost neutral program, but a huge grant has been awarded to cover the costs of this cost neutral program.

FLES has been discussed, but no decision has been made to start it. It would be costly.

MI is Mandarin Immersion, similar to the Spanish Immersion program that has been running for years. Both are lottery (random selection) programs available to a selected small group.

FLES is Foreign Language at Elementary School and would be a program for all elementary students in all schools.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 7, 2008 at 6:32 pm

PA Student,

My point is that we have a boutique program coming in and taking up space at a school already at its stated maximum and with its own large waitlist. The MI program will take up three modular classrooms originally slotted for the expansion of Ohlone's program by a half strand.

In addition, a full strand of MI at Ohlone puts the school over the district's maximum for elementary schools.

My point about FLES is that we're not getting it or any language program for kids in the district while we are getting a boutique language program that benefits only a few kids.

So MI is supposedly cost-neutral, but it's also getting $750K to cover those "non-expenses."


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