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School-bond campaign raises $88,174

Original post made on May 24, 2008

Supporters of the proposed $378 million school bond measure have raised $88,174, with the largest donations coming from real estate developers, according to campaign-finance statements released Friday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 23, 2008, 4:14 PM

Comments (12)

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Posted by No Reason for A
a resident of Barron Park
on May 24, 2008 at 5:42 pm

This story tells a lot. Vast amounts raised and spent to convince people they should approve the bond; real estate developers and teachers union among the leading contributors. Plus of course several coordinated posts on this Forum supporting the bond.

The fact is simple - the bond is far more than needed, probably by half. The Board and Skelly would be happy to have a pot of money to spend as they see fit - the language of the bond does little to constrain them and the oversight committee can do little but watch. While there are some worthwhile projects, $200M would be more than adequate. Moreover, we will pay off this bond thought 2042, essentially handing off the bill to a new generation of homeowners 20 years from now.

And while the tax rate does not go up today, when the library and police hq bond/financings come through, we will have no dry powder. If those bonds pass, there will be an increase in taxes.

It is a shame that the proponents of A, starting with the Board, feel the need to jam this bad bond on the taxpayers to upgrade buildings well beyond what is needed. It's a shame we using a financing trick, essentially stretching our payments until indeed, we literally pass the buck to others. It's a shame that we are not getting the bond we need, which would be half this size.

Let's vote NO on A and get a bond that adds up.


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Posted by Jon Foster
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 26, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Let me make a brief clarifying post about this article.

The article says that a house worth $1,000,000 will pay $445 in taxes if Measure A is passed. This is true if the house's ASSESSED value is $1,000,000. Those who have owned houses for some years in the Palo Alto schools area have a significant difference between the assessed values of their houses and the market value. The average assessed value of a house in Palo Alto is approximately $690,000, which means that the average homeowner will continue to pay of just over $300 (because this is NOT an increased tax, but a continuation of the current tax rate). In fact, a long-time homeowner whose house is assessed at $200,000 would pay less than $100 per year – the same as they pay currently. Homeowners who eventually sell their homes will almost certainly benefit in the sales price from the investment that Measure A makes in our school facilities.

Let me add an additional points about the committee's finances. Per state campaign requirements, the committee reports only individual donations of over $100, but we have had broad community support and donations from hundreds of residents, including many donations ranging from $5 to $100. We are very grateful for the support of the generous individuals who have helped us get the word out about the importance of this crucial measure for schools, which, if passed, will provide our school district with its only source of funds for major construction projects and do so without raising tax rates.

Jon Foster
Co-Chair, Strong Schools for a Strong Community


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Posted by No Reason for A
a resident of Barron Park
on May 26, 2008 at 5:33 pm

So Jon, to just to make sure, can you clarify - at least $25,000, or just under 30% of what you raised, has come from 4 real estate developers (I assume other developers and realtor also kicked in - could you tell us how much?); another $3K came from the teachers union. That amount covered the out-of-town political consultant you hired to sell Measure A to the voters.

So real estate developers and the unions support it; the hired consultants package it; and we think Palo Alto voters should buy in?

Let's face it - this is way more bond than is needed. It will takes over 35 years to pay off - literally passing the buck to the next generation. And for what - "thermal comfort upgrades" and landscaping - and almost no actual capacity expansion. All for $400M plus interest.

Let's send this bond back and get one that is half the size. Vote No on A - it doesn't add up.


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Posted by Ron
a resident of Southgate
on May 26, 2008 at 6:21 pm

This is so typical of PAUSD. It gives in on the major issues, like MI, and continues to threaten neighborhood schools, then it comes forth with a new superman (Skelly), displacing the former superwoman, and expects us to to buy the act.

Just vote no on this turkey. At some point, PAUSD will begin to listen to us taxpayers.


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Posted by No to this turkey
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 27, 2008 at 9:28 am

" In fact, a long-time homeowner whose house is assessed at $200,000 would pay less than $100 per year"

Yet another reason to vote against it--more free ride for those who bought a long time ago.

Turkey is right.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 27, 2008 at 9:38 am

Can anyone comment on this measure vs. those passed by neighboring school districts (size, amount, scope)


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Posted by No Reason for A
a resident of Barron Park
on May 27, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Anon, that's a great question and since I didn't know the answer I spent 20 minutes checking it out. Below are four data points from neighboring districts (the first 4 I found). All are smaller than Measure A; 3 of 4 are MUCH smaller; all appear to target more or less the same result (though Santa Clara, at $315 million, sounds like does more).

It is hard to compare financings (how much time since the last, how much is actually covered, etc.), but it is no surprise that Measure A is by a decent measure the biggest, despite delivering no new schools. We need much less - probably half. Let's vote NO and get a bond that adds up.

Menlo Park 2006 - $91.1 million - Classroom additions and modernization projects

Cupertino 2001 - $80 million - Facility renovations and the conversion of a fifth middle school

Santa Clara 2004 - $315 million - Complete modernization of all of the middle schools, high schools and adult education campus including replacement of old heating, and ventilation systems, upgrading of security and fire alarm systems, electrical wiring to accommodate the increased demands of new technology, and floor-to-ceiling renovations for classrooms, science labs and libraries

Sunnyvale 2004 - $120 million - Maintain a safe learning environment at Sunnyvale's elementary and middle schools by replacing 40 year old gas, water and sewer lines; improving and expanding school libraries; installing energy efficient heating and cooling systems; replacing portables with permanent classrooms; expanding school facilities to relieve overcrowding; and making essential school improvements


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 27, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Interesting info. But, are any of these districts in fact increasing in enrollments the way we are in Palo Alto?


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Posted by No Reason for A
a resident of Barron Park
on May 27, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Parent, the Measure A bond IS NOT primarily for capacity expansion. The only new facility is Garland, and that is only for bringing up to B4E standards (about $3 million). ALL new classrooms in the plan are a total of $25 million - that's it. New modulars are an additional $9 million. That $34M out of almost $400 million!

Our spending is NOT for growth - it is for upgrading. $17 million for "thermal comfort upgrades." $70 million for gyms, theaters, and outside work (landscape and hard scape). $18 million for new windows. $14 million for IT (that's IT assets paid off in a 35 year bond!). $13 million for the Paly Administrative building.

This is not a good bond. It is simply a huge pot of money to embellish what we have. Half the bond would give us more than adequate facilities and capacity - AND leave money to spend on libraries and police HQ.

Please vote NO on Measure A. Let's get a bond that adds up.


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Posted by SKY'S THE LIMIT
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 28, 2008 at 1:46 pm

How does one settle on 20 years as the time-frame ?

Would a $ 1,000,000,000 Bond, spread over 30 years be better ? ..... or $ 2 Bil over 40 years ? .....or $ 50 Mil over 8 years ?

We could have a slogan about Strong Schools for all of them. Why do we like 20 years ?



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Posted by I Voted NO on A
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 3, 2008 at 12:39 pm

The thing I didn't like about the bond was the list of projects was all inclusive. What wasn't on the list? Every possible maintenance project you could find, was on it. Everyone could find something they liked and thus vote for. Even a new school, some say, could be found in the 'small print'. The list wasn't prioritize. I'm sure the items I liked won't even get done. It's not required to be prioritized either. By having a detailed list they can get this bond to pass with a 50% vote instead of the two thirds vote (if no detailed listing). It's very hard to get a bond passed with two thirds vote. Of course they can have a accountability committee to insure anything they spend will be on the list. That works because everything is on the list.

It really is a great way to get a bond to pass. I feel it is just a loop hole to get the 50 percent vote instead of a two thirds vote. I'm sure the person they hired to support this measure knew this too.


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Posted by me too
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2008 at 4:28 pm

Yep, was wondering the same thing


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