The Mountain View Whisman School District board appears poised to move forward on a $198 million bond measure to pay for safety and facilities improvements at local elementary and middle schools.
The proposed bond would be supported by area home owners who would pay up to $30 per $100,000 of assessed property value. It requires a yes vote of 55 percent to pass. It would come on top of Measure C, the eight-year, $3 million voter-approved parcel tax that went into effect in 2009. Depending on parcel size, property owners are assessed anywhere from nearly $150 to over $1,000 a year under Measure C.
District administrators and trustees from the board reviewed the proposed bond measure's language at a Feb. 16 meeting. Although trustees could not comment on their intentions prior to the vote -- scheduled for the board's March 1 meeting -- it appears that the measure, set for the June ballot, has their support.
Trustee Ellen Wheeler called the School Facilities Improvement Plan -- which outlines all the potential projects the bond may pay for -- "a thrifty measure," and a "worthwhile use of taxpayer money."
The district administration will recommend that the board approve the measure next month, in time to get it on the June ballot, according to Craig Goldman, district superintendent.
Although the country has not yet fully recovered from the recession, Goldman said that the district cannot wait for these facilities improvements any longer.
"Facilities don't know that we're in an economic recession," Goldman said. "They continue to deteriorate, safety codes continue to change and educational issues have changing needs."
He pointed to a Dec. 2011 survey of 400 local voters, which showed the Mountain View community is both able and willing to support the district bond.
"We are very lucky that Silicon Valley, in general, and Mountain View, specifically, is thriving -- notwithstanding the economic crisis," Goldman said.
The proposed measure has had one highly vocal critic. Steven Nelson, a Mountain View resident living in Cuesta Park, said that the superintendent "did a very poor job of getting community input, in my opinion."
Nelson is particularly upset that the district is not considering reopening Whisman Elementary School, which has been closed since 2000 and is currently leased to the German International School.
By including more projects to make district buildings more sustainable, he said, the district could easily make up for the money it generates through its leasing of Whisman or Slater Elementary School, which is occupied by a Google child care program.
"The Slater and Whisman area (on either side of Middlefield east of Highway 85) doesn't have access to a neighborhood school and it seems that the reason behind that is that it enables the other neighborhoods that have schools to have additional operational money."
In response to Nelson's critique, Goldman wrote in an email to the Voice: "At the time the Student Facilities Improvement Plan was prepared, the demographic study did not indicate a need to re-open another school. However, if student enrollment increases significantly beyond what was projected by the demographic study, the District would, in fact, have to consider re-opening another school site. Such a possibility is envisioned by the proposed bond resolution language and makes the passage of a bond all the more essential."