Mountain View Voice

Opinion - May 21, 2010

A good deal for high schools

Mountain View voters should find it easy to approve Measure A on the June 8 ballot to extend the current bond measure. It would raise $41.3 million by extending the payoff period on bonds for the Mountain View Los Altos High School District from 2024 to 2030.

The extension will allow the district to accommodate enrollment that is expected to surge by 900 students by 2012.

The extension maintains the same rate of $14.70 per $100,000 of a property's assessed valuation. Although it will take six more years to pay off the bonds, the proposal is a good deal for voters as their taxes will not go up a nickel.

Passage of the measure will create a bond oversight committee, a requirement for lowering the threshold for passage to 55 percent of the vote, rather than the two-thirds normally required for tax measures.

In the last six months or so, district officials including Superintendent Barry Groves have done their homework, talking to many local interest groups about why it is important to support the bond extension.

In support of the proposal, school officials believe it is better to plan now for the additional students coming over the next three years.

"We wanted to provide for our schools' future without creating a heavier tax burden on local taxpayers," a board member said in a statement issued in support of the measure.

Much of the bond money will be used to build new classrooms at the district's two high schools and to pay for other improvements, including new restrooms, earthquake and fire safety upgrades, improved security systems, updated wiring for new technologies and conversion of teacher offices to science labs. Some "green" improvements will also be included, such as installing solar electricity systems, improving insulation and replacing or upgrading inefficient boilers. School officials estimate that making all these changes could save up to $400,000 a year in energy costs.

We urge voters to approve Measure A. Now is the time to prepare for the expected bubble of 900 additional students, rather than after they arrive. It also makes sense to install energy-efficient improvements that could save $4 million over 10 years. And by simply continuing the current bond repayment amount for another six years, voters will not see their tax bills increase. Measure A will provide good value to the district and its students and should be approved on June 8.

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