News


Editorial: Yes on school bond Measure Z

Measure Z will fund the continuing upgrades needed in our schools

Sometimes timing is everything. Ten years ago, in the June 2008 election and by a 77 percent margin, voters in the Palo Alto Unified School District overwhelmingly approved a $378 million bond measure to fund about half of the identified capital needs, including major projects at both high schools, all three middle schools and about half of the district's elementary schools.

Just four months later, the economy crashed and the Great Recession drove interest rates down to near zero and construction costs fell dramatically. For the district and its taxpayers, this meant much more bang for the buck, and except for problems with one major contractor, the 2008 measure more than delivered on its promises.

With those funds now running out, the school board hopes the timing is right to seamlessly continue the construction program by asking for approval of a new $460 million bond to fund, among other things, new multipurpose buildings at elementary schools, new classrooms at the middle schools and renovation of Gunn's Spangenberg Auditorium, the Paly Haymarket Theater and the Paly tower building. A 55 percent majority vote is needed.

The estimated new tax rate, including the continuing re-payments of the 2008 bond and final years of the 1995 bond, will be about $100 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, or $1,000 per million dollars of assessed valuation (not fair market value). This will amount to a relatively small increase — $20 per $100,000 — above what homeowners are currently paying.

While the district's timing for making this ask of voters isn't ideal given the financial and management turmoil of the last few years and the hit many taxpayers will take under the new tax laws, those problems don't diminish the continuing need for capital improvements to the schools.

There is also a significant benefit to rolling one bond program into another, since personnel and construction-management processes can continue without needing to gear up after shutting down the current bond program.

We hope voters — who, like us, have been frustrated with the district's management failures of the last few years or who may feel tapped out by bond measures and the parcel tax (which only funds operational needs) — will recognize that most of our campuses still have major needs and that funds will also eventually be needed to rebuild some portion of the former Cubberley High School site for school purposes.

We urge a "yes" vote on Measure Z.

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Comments

49 people like this
Posted by Overstrapped in the middle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2018 at 8:30 am

Most of our campuses still have major needs because there was no oversight to make sure the money was spent well, and that we got most of what was promised.

This district seems to do a much better job when billionaires are donating the money, and we have many of those. We should not be further burdening families who are barely hanging on because of the enormous tax increases they suddenly got at the end of last year.

The district should have first tried a capital campaign asking for donations from the district’s wealthiest. When they do that, they are much less likely to treat the funds like play money, as in many ways they did. A lot of superficial hardscape and a few big buildings was not delivering on almost $400 million dollars. Mitchell Park library and community center was about $40 million. Did we get ten brand new school sites? No. Addison justified its getting to hoard a major donation because it didn’t get the funds from the original bond, when most of the other elementaries didn’t either. As one parent warned in the Weekly, a flawed process resulted in a flawed outcome.

If you look around the district, a surprising amount of the big new stuff was from donations. And other big new stuff just didn’t cost that much. The big athletic building at Gunn was only $12 million. The big new building at Gunn is projected at $20 million. Assuming all cost that much, did we get 20-30 major new large buildings?

The Weekly supported the last tax which was a blatant bait and switch. I don’t want to give this district that kind of money unless there is an enforceable promise of what the money will be spent on. They have a bad track record, unless it’s a donation from illustrious community members.

I will vote No, and ask the district to first try a capital campaign to raise the funds. The district is well-supported in this time and will have a far easier time getting the funds it wants for whatever than we will to try to make up the substantial hit to what we live on after housing and medical that we have already taken this year..


20 people like this
Posted by Yes on Z
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 28, 2018 at 11:21 am

Glad to see this editorial and happy to support Measure Z - good for our students, good for teachers, good for housing values. They have built a lot of good buildings but the elementary schools are still really old and need work.


12 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 28, 2018 at 11:25 am

rsmithjr is a registered user.

I am torn about this measure. I do think that the expenditures are a good idea per se and would like to see the project happen.

On the other hand, those of us who have followed the district these past several years are rightly concerned about the financial and management issues. These problems continued long after the district could see that something was wrong. It is still unbelievable to me that no one noticed or took any action.

My question is, how do we communicate this concern to the district. One of the few concrete things we can do is to vote down bond issues. People notice money like nothing else. I am also concerned that passing this measure will be interpreted as total acquiescence on the part of tax payers. The district will breath a sigh of relief, and business will do on as usual.

So, that is my dilemma. Do I vote against a good measure as a protest against unrelated things, or allow the incompetence to go unnoticed where it counts.

Right now, I 51% in voting for it.

Good luck to the rest of you.


17 people like this
Posted by Board Watcher
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 28, 2018 at 11:56 am

@rjsmith - I think the district heard your message. The Superintendent and the Chief Financial Officer are both new this year, their predecessors having "retired." I would characterize board members Dauber and Collins as budget "hawks" in that they are skeptical of what management presents and demanding of accountability - they led the effort to oust McGee. The new CFO comes from Long Beach, which is one of the best managed districts in California. So I think the district has gotten the message and taken the steps to clean up the mess.


31 people like this
Posted by Overstrapped in the middle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2018 at 12:42 pm

@rsmithjr,
I disagree with “watcher” above. Who on the board came out against the last tax measure that was sold as necessary for student mental health, class sizes, and to avoid teacher layoffs, yet went immediately to raises including automatic raises for administrators who are almost all already making more than the governor of California? They didn’t. And we were told how oversight would prevent the money from being misspent when many in the community warned that we should vote down that tax. It didn’t.

Remember how change of the superintendant was supposed to solve everything when we got McGee?

We can only be sure of oversight if the bond states exactly what will be purchased, how much each thing will cost, and what remedies with teeth will be applied if the money is not spent that way. This bond is even less enforceable than the last bond and tax were. The district has shown a willingness to shape up (some) and come back with another ask if the community says no. If this new super in so good fiscally, then let him come back with a specific bond measure that is accountable for how much will be spent on what, and exactly what the community is getting. The district has nothing but bad to show for blank checks. Their promises in election and even in the bond itself mean nothing, as history shows.

Send a message, they really only change when a bond loses. Not enough has changed about the culture and even personnel leadership with Old Guard attitudes. We already believed that excuse that new leaders rotating through would be enough and it was not.

Let the district first mount a capital campaign with our very wealthiest residents, and only then ask the rest who are already struggling for more. The district has shown a far greater interest in ensuring what is purchased is what is expected if the money comes from donations.

Vote No on Z. (I say this as a current parent here, we do our schools no favors by rolling over for anything related to schools.)


40 people like this
Posted by Enough already
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 28, 2018 at 1:36 pm

This is the never ending money pit. They schools have been under construction with various bond measures since the 1990s. This a boondoggle for constructions companies. Time to stop this and focus on the essentials: providing a good, sound, basic education to all children. No new buildings needed for this.

No on Z


28 people like this
Posted by Seems expensive
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 1, 2018 at 1:09 pm

Seems expensive is a registered user.

The ask ($460 million) seems like an awful lot of money for the projects the effort is targeting. Given all the construction that has happened over the past 4-6 years, and all the private construction going on, I'd like to see a re-evaluation of our priorities. Cubberley is going to cost a fortune, if the plans are even half as big as they are looking at. Our appetite is exceeding our budget, and we residents can only fork over so much money. With limits on the deductibillity of our state and local (property) taxes, we are already feeling the pinch of the new "tax cut". I'm not going to vote for this unless I get much more compelling information. I'd love to see a real debate about this in the Weekly.


18 people like this
Posted by Good
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 1, 2018 at 7:53 pm

As the saying goes, "If you think education is expensive — try ignorance." My child's elementary school is over 50 years old and looks it. The classrooms have no AC, the ventilation is poor, several of the rooms are 10+ year old portables, the MP room is decrepit and can't even hold all the kids, the library is too small, the play equipment is about the same as my school in the 1970s. I know some of the schools "got theirs" with the last bond, but the elementary schools did not. A remodel every 50 years or so seems about right to me - our kids deserve it.


15 people like this
Posted by Enough already
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 1, 2018 at 9:45 pm

@ Good

All the elementary schools were renovated and added on with the bonds voted in the nineties. I should know, my kinds were in elementary school then.

Again, overall, it's been non-stop construction for over twenty years. Time to stop. If we did not get our money's worth from all that construction, all the more time to stop.


12 people like this
Posted by Good
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 1, 2018 at 9:54 pm

@Enough Already, you should visit an elementary school today, you'll see you are mistaken. They did seismic upgrades and other necessary repairs, but MP rooms, libraries, HVAC, etc. haven't been touched since the 1960s - not to mention all the portables in use for 10-20 years. The last bond (2008) was only meant to address 50% of the needs they new about then - most elementary schools have had little or nothing done yet.

I guess your kids are done now, so you feel like "that's enough." For my kids and those who are coming in the decades to come, I hope you can be more generous. Please let them finish the job.


9 people like this
Posted by Enough already
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 1, 2018 at 10:05 pm

@ Good

Not true. My children's elementary school got a brand new library at the time! I know they did not add AC, but there were a number of upgrades, including adding hot water in the classrooms, and they definitely did additions at almost all, if not all, the elementary schools.

That all the schools still have portables is sadly true, all the way through high school.

Again, if with all the money with voted at the time, and since for the other schools, we did not get enough, time to hit the pause button. This is insane.

Twenty years of non-stop construction.


2 people like this
Posted by PV Res
a resident of Portola Valley
on Oct 2, 2018 at 9:10 am

Portola Valey schools are failing. Just take a look around Corte Madera and you will see what I mean. Voting yes on Z makes it so we can continue the proud tradition of PVSD leading the way in 21st century education in a suitable learning environment.


10 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2018 at 9:52 am

I'm inclined to vote yes because PAUSD management appears to be improving. It was a rough 10 years, but I see a lot of positive change happening now.


10 people like this
Posted by cmarg
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 3, 2018 at 1:36 pm

cmarg is a registered user.

I feel we need more definitive plans and accountability around the spending. Yes, there are building improvements that would be wonderful. Yes, lots of private donations have been made (Addison current renovation, Paly gym to name the most recent). Let's get the administration to give us a plan and the associated costs and then propose a bond. We are all seeking transparency and this may help to overcome the lack of faith and trust we feel.

Vote No on Z and ask for details and accountability of a bond measure.


5 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 3, 2018 at 1:47 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

@Anon,

I am inclined to vote for it out of approval for the idea of the project.

It is a very close call because I also believe that the bureaucracy will take this as an affirmation that the voters really aren't holding them accountable.


7 people like this
Posted by shane246
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 9, 2018 at 8:31 pm

first the median house price in PA in $2.5 million and recent buyers already stretch to afford that. next the recent tax law changes have socked me with upto $15K in tax increases due to loss of state and local income tax deduction plus limiting property tax deduction to 10k. finally this measure will add an additional $3k on my already stretched budget. only multi-millionaires/billionaires or people who bought their house 10+yr ago will be able to afford this increase. a lot of new homeowners who purchased in the last couple of years like me will be hard-hit by this increase and most likely sell. Not only will we be forced to sell but we will be selling into a weak housing market because of rising interest rates. This creates a perfect storm for PA house-prices . This will cause a fall in residential property values for everyone. I won't tell anyone how to vote but be aware of what you are voting for..


3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 10, 2018 at 12:00 am

Reading the fine print I see the tax rate and the duration are only estimates.
But I guess we can't set a cap and work backwards when issuing the bonds.


3 people like this
Posted by curious
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Oct 11, 2018 at 6:30 pm

Does anybody know to whom we will pay the $345,000,000? This is the difference between what the district gets and what the district re-pays for the bonds - according to County Voter Information Guide that I have just received.
I can even agree with the need for $460,000,000 for schools, but why pay almost the same amount for financing the project?


8 people like this
Posted by Overstrapped in the middle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2018 at 10:12 pm

@Good,
Your point is exactly why we should not vote for anything that isn't specific. I attended events where Skelly promised what the last bond was for, and it was supposed to substantially renovate the district facilities, new or like new. I agree with you, where did that nearly $400 million last time go? I know for a fact that our district overtly avoided using evidence-based guidelines the state provides to help districts reduce unnecessary costs of public school construction.

We are still deciding what to do about Cubberley. If we approve this general blank check now, guaranteed it will not go to renovate Cubberley at all but that we will be asked again.

The district should first:
-Decide what the need is for Cubberley
-Have the new superintendent do a careful review of our facilities and map out specifically what will be done and what it will cost, and prepare a new bond that gives the public the specifics
-But before asking so many families who have been hard-hit by the tax increase of last year to shell out more, the new superintendent should consider a capital campaign to raise the money

No on Z. We learned from the last few elections that the district simply does not listen if we just vote for everything that comes along. And we also know that they will come back and ask again, there is no risk of that not happening. They have a really, really bad record with blank checks. We need a capital campaign first, we need to incorporate the plans for Cubberley in the bond, and any future bond needs to be very specific, with leverage to ensure the community gets what is specified.

I will vote NO on Z. If you do, to, please join me in sharing with the district how they could earn your vote in the future, as I will.


2 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Oct 12, 2018 at 7:33 pm

Why is the tax on this bill based on assessed value and not market value of a home? If we want to pay for schools as a community, we should have everyone pay their fair share. Our property tax system is California is already backwards and bills like this only exasperate the issue. As much as I want to support overfunded Palo Alto schools, I can’t support this measure.

Perhaps what we should do is tax homeowners who are paying a fraction of what their neighbors are paying (only because they bought their house earlier) and give that money to the East Palo Alto school district.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 12, 2018 at 8:41 pm

@Overstrapped - are you saying you don't think we got good value for the 30+ projects done with the current bond over the last 10 years? Walk around any high school and middle school campus - you can't miss it. Plus new expansions at Fairmeadow, Ohlone, and Duveneck. And they are still going to do Addison, Hoover, El Carmelo, and Hays.

They did an updated Master Plan - it was reviewed and approved by the Board. It covers every campus and every project, including estimates. It will certainly change with time, but it's all there today.

@Joe - Prop 13 is in the constitution, and until that changes, that's the way school bonds get funded. You can vote "no" but that will hurt the students and won't change the law.


1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2018 at 2:31 am

The way the US, CA fund schools we might as well be living in the old South as far as segregation or discrimination.

Look into it sometime ... rich districts get everything, and in this rich district we even do it in an extremely regressive way. It's not helping most Californians, so apparently most people really need to be educated as to how the tax system works, and who it benefits.

If you have an open mind check out this short clip on Finland's school system from Michael Moore's documentary "Where To Invade Next" and see what a democratic ( small-d ) school system that is #1 in the world looks like.

-- Where To Invade Next - Finnish schools - Web Link

>> "If you think education is expensive — try ignorance."

Love the humorous quote, but it is a false dichotomy ... which seems to be the American way these days. Spend double what the rest of the world spends say on on health care, and get worse outcomes because of it.

Since when did what's right become doing whatever puts the most money in private, unaccountable hands, and trusting them to do the right thing? That's not right.


1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2018 at 2:38 am

Curious ...
> I can even agree with the need for $460,000,000 for schools, but why pay almost the same amount for financing the project?

Because there are a lot of "interests" out there with tons of money with no sure thing investment who need us to pay them interest on it and need a good excuse to squeeze it out of us, and they will squeeze and squeeze until there is not a drop of juice left in the entire state or country. Then when things really fail, they will be the only ones left with money or organization and we will have to forsake the USA and move on to something I am sure Trump would call winning and fabulous, powerful and tremendous. FOA, the Feudal Oligarchy of America. Why do Republicans hate America so very much?


5 people like this
Posted by curious
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Oct 13, 2018 at 7:33 am

@CrescentParkAnon
I do not know how did Trump or Republicans got into the business of Measure Z.

I just received a mailing stating:
"All Measure Z funds benefit our Palo Alto schools".
Given that Prop Z collects $805 million and gives to schools $460 million, the correct statement should be:
"57% of Measure Z funds benefit our Palo Alto schools".
If you are fine with this percentage, then sure, vote for Prop Z.
I just wished the proponents had the courage to state the facts.
It is plain simple honesty that is missing here.


8 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2018 at 9:33 pm

We pay astronomical property taxes already, have a highly funded school district, have witnessed massive school projects/construction our kids/neighbor kids suffered through in recent history. Give us very clear proposals before extracting more money. We’re not elderly and not new here. We’re squeezed in the middle. It does not appear justified.
Vote NO on Measure Z!


8 people like this
Posted by Randy
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 14, 2018 at 6:05 pm

I will most likely vote no.

My kids have been in PAUSD for about 10 years, and have been at schools under some form of construction for most of those years. How about some quiet time?

Also, I have little confidence that PSUSD can properly manage new construction. Putting solar panels over grass playing fields at JLS instead of on the roof, and consuming much of what once was a great playing field at Fairmeadow for a new classroom building, instead of scrapping the poorly designed Jackson building, and replacing it with a multi-floor better designed space while preserving the great playing field, still perplexes me.


13 people like this
Posted by Overstrapped in the Middle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2018 at 8:16 am

@Resident,
"@Overstrapped - are you saying you don't think we got good value for the 30+ projects done with the current bond over the last 10 years?"

Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. We did not get good value for the almost $400million from the last bond. I remember the promises that this money was going to largely update/give us new facilities for the next century, and I watched as people involved openly rejected taking measures that would have allowed that money to do that.

I see a few new big buildings at a few schools and a lot of very, very expensive paint and hardscape intended to make it look like something was done. That could have all happened for half or less of that money. The state publishes numbers for what school construction should cost, even in VERY expensive areas of California, and they also publish guidelines for how schools can reduce the cost of school construction without sacrificing goals.

Our district overtly rejected having anything to do with such measures and proceeded to make our school construction as unnecessary expensive - and thus use up the money far short of what could have been done with it - as possible. There was even a parent editorial back then in which the parent lamented a flawed process resulting in a future flawed outcome.

Look at the big new community center at Mitchell Park. It was around $40million. It had to take input from the entire community in a much more open process. We were building on that bond through the recession. We could have completely replaced 10-12 elementary schools with completely new facilities for that money, with some left over. Did we get any new schools? No. The bond promised that renovated places would be equivalent to new. Yet we have people from schools all over the district complaining that someone else got the money because they didn't. Getting a little spruced up hardscape is not what we were promised and was NOT in any way the best use of the money.

But there never was any mechanism in the last bond to ensure that the money was spent well or effectively. Just ask Todd Collins, who was on the "oversight" committee, which was basically run by the district. All the oversight committee did was make sure the money was spent on the things the district said they would spend it on, not to get the best value for what was promised in the bond.

Do not vote in another blank check. We have a new Superintendent who is supposed to be good with finances. Let's get through the discussions about Cubberley, and let the new Superintendent come up with a much better more specific bond measure, that really will give us what we need for the money, AFTER he tries a capital campaign to get donations first. Donations seem to get far better spent.

I am voting NO on Z (BECAUSE I have a school kid in Palo Alto). As history has shown, the only only way to get the district to do better is to reject a money ask at the ballot. Please do not just roll over for every blank check just because it's for schools


10 people like this
Posted by Overstrapped in the MIddle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2018 at 8:20 am

"Look at the big new community center at Mitchell Park. It was around $40million. It had to take input from the entire community in a much more open process. We were building on that bond through the recession. We could have completely replaced 10-12 elementary schools with completely new facilities for that money, with some left over. Did we get any new schools? No."

Just a clarification. Look at the big new community center and library at Mitchell Park FOR COMPARISON. (The City built Mitchell Park for ~40 million despite arguable mismanagement. That's a sobering comparison when you look at what WASN'T done with 10X that for our schools.)

Vote NO on Z so we can get a better, more specific bond proposal, with a much more enforceable commitment, and only AFTER the schools try a capital campaign.


13 people like this
Posted by Overstrapped in the Middle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2018 at 8:46 am

The new tax law was so brutal to middle-income Palo Altans, yet the total benefit to local billionaires will far outstrip the amount of this bond, and there are other incentives in the tax code for billionaires giving money.

This really is not the time to approve this kind of a burden on local families for whom even a few hundred or a few thousand more in taxes is hugely burdensome, on top of the big hit they will take that amounts to a major percentage of what they live on, because of the recent tax law increases on families in high-cost-of-living states like California. Remember that $117,000 here is considered the "low-income" threshold for a family, because of the high cost of living here. One way such families created stability was through doing whatever it took to buy a home of some kind, and now the new tax law threatens people's stability and financial futures, while billionaires have just gotten a huge bump.

Ignoring the realities of the many "house poor" in this area has served a developer narrative, but it creates peril for hundreds or thousands of families every time a proposal like this comes through, especially now that the new tax rules are going to slam people with a sudden four or five-figure increase in their cost of living.

Given events, it's better to Vote NO on Z, and get the district to mount a capital campaign first. Our local billionaires have been more than willing to make donations when it served their own children's interests, but with a little effort, they could probably be helped to understand the benefits of extending the generosity to all. Donated funds seem far more targeted and better spent here anyway.

Please vote NO on Z. There literally is NO chance that the district will not come up with the money some way, including by coming back to ask again with a better, more specific proposal from this new superintendent. But saying NO will give them the chance to also start a capital campaign to raise the money through donations, first. With the looming tax increases on already-squeezed people in the middle, and the huge benefit for the richest from the tax changes, it's just more humane to first ask the many billionaires in town to contribute what they can for their own community first.

Please vote NO on Z.


2 people like this
Posted by I voted no
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 16, 2018 at 10:00 am

I voted no is a registered user.

I voted no (absentee). Felt good. There are too many projects requiring our money (train and cubberley to mention two huge ones), taxes have gone way up, the city is going broke (pensions), construction at the schools has been endless, and there is a new administration. Let's give it a rest and see if we can better evaluate priorities and consider other ways to raise funds. Addison and Paly have had enormous donations with terrific plans. There is hope.


2 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 16, 2018 at 8:07 pm

I am voting YES. Why do folks buy houses here? The schools. Where else do you have a better chance of getting your kid into Harvard, Princeton, or MIT? You don't even have to send them to private school. So I own a house in Midtown that is valued at $280K by the tax man. That means my taxes go up about $120 a year give or take for this bond issue. What a deal, $460 million dollars for $120 tax increase. Even if they aren't very efficient and waste 50% of the money it is still a hell of deal. Anybody that bought a house more than 10 years ago needs to vote for this thing. No brainer.


10 people like this
Posted by Overstrapped in the Middle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2018 at 9:03 pm

@Midtown,
Just because you are not seriously impacted does not mean others are not. I would be happy to vote yes if you would make a binding agreement to trade taxes with me for the next 20 years.

Do you not remember what happened with the last ballot ask? They promised us up and down that it would to to our children' and to reducing class sizes. But that's not what happened. The reason it didn't happen is that the bond did not specify exactly where the money would go. That is easy to fix.

You are very casual with the impact on others' lives just because you yourself are not negatively affected. If Measure Z goes down, it will not affect our schools negatively one bit. I can guarantee you 100% that they will ask again. But voting NO means there is a chance they can first raise a capital campaign, and that when (not if, when) they ask again, the community can leverage a better bond.

If you value the quality of our schools, why would you want hundreds of millions to be wasted instead of contributed to the quality of our schools and to the wellbeing of our children? This measure wouldn't even have been necessary if the last bond had been half better spent.

Vote NO on Measure Z. The family you save may be the one your kid feels closest to in school.


6 people like this
Posted by Rajiv
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 18, 2018 at 12:37 am

3 of my kids have been through the Palo Alto school system with 1 more left. When you have so many elementary schools, middle schools and high schools built at different times in a high growth region, there is a constant need to rebuild, renovate and replace school facilities. Part of the draw of Palo Alto is that we have the best schools in the state. Even though my kids are almost done, I want to ensure that we keep improving. Vote YES on Z!


5 people like this
Posted by Overstrapped in the Middle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2018 at 12:35 am

@Rajiv,

If you want to ensure our schools keep improving, then you should vote NO on Z, then vote Yes on the NEXT one they bring forward in a few months if the community is smart enough to vote No on this one.

If the schools are built new, no, there isn't a constant need to rebuild and replace them. They should last many decades - the money the district needs if it has new rebuilt schools is largely for operations and maintenance, repairs, etc, and that's money from a different bond we already approved and have on hand.

For the last bond, the district promised us largely rebuilt schools across the district, and where they were renovated, for them to be like new. That's just not what happened, except maybe at Paly. We need a bond that will actually give us what it promises; this will not.

We can both agree that the schools need funds to improve the facilities - since the last bond did not do a good job of what was promised - but we need a bond measure that will do that. This will not. If we vote this down, there is a 100% chance that the district will come back with another proposal.

This is not like a state referendum, the district has produced many of these in recent years, including some turkeys. When the community has voted down one bond, the district rewrote a better one and it was approved. That is why you should vote NO on Z. Again, there is zero - ZERO - chance that there won't be another one for your approval within months, and when the community has the guts to vote down something, only then is there a history of the district listening to the community before coming back and asking again. And they will.

If we approve this one, there is a 100% chance that the money will be spent less well than if we don't, and very likely will be spent without touching Cubberley or making anymore major renovations than this one did. Recall that this one was supposed to largely make over our schools across the district at every level as new or like new. That could have happened, but it did not because there were no enforceable promises in the bond and there was no oversight mechanism for effective use of the money. The way this bond is written is even worse.

Our schools have many needs, as the last school TAX measure laid out. The district made many very compelling arguments that they would have to lay off teachers if they did not get the money, and that it was necessary for new mental health hires (in the midst of suicides) and especially to reduce class classes across the district.

None of those promises materialized, the money went for additional raises on top of already generous raises, including to administrators who caused many of the problems of the previous decade. The district didn't even wait to do this, they spent the money NOT on what the community was practically strong-armed over. Had the community simply voted NO, the district would have rewritten the measure and we would have gotten the class size reductions we were promised. Notice how the talk of the dire needs they needed the money for simply evaporated and the district used the money for something else. If you think we need the money for facilities, then Vote NO on Z so that the district comes back with a much stronger bond that actually gives us that.

When a bond is very specific in its promises, then we as a community can hold the district to those promises. But when it is a blank check, as this one is, we can't do that.

The bond is for a lot of money, and people who want to take that money from us (because let's face it, PAUSD looks like an easy target), they make more of it while delivering far less in exactly the setup of the last bond and tax: a blank check, with no specific promises, so we get the kind of projects they make the most on, not the most for our money and for the benefit of the kids.

Vote NO on Z (then give them feedback for the next bond, and vote Yes for the improved one they WILL come up with, hopefully after a capital campaign to first raise donations from the many local billionaires who can better afford it after their tax cut vs. the major tax increase on those in the middle).


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