Mountain View Voice

News - January 27, 2012

Survey shows support for new school bond

Mountain View Whisman district likely to place measure on June ballot

by Nick Veronin

A new public opinion survey has local education officials feeling fairly confident that there is enough support from local voters to pass a $196 million bond measure.

In a December 2011 phone poll, more than 60 percent of local voters said they felt that the Mountain View Whisman School district had at least some need for more money and that they would support the proposed bond, according to a report from Gene Bregman & Associates, the research firm that conducted the survey.

"We're extremely pleased," said Craig Goldman, Mountain View Whisman's superintendent. "It certainly validates our belief that Mountain View residents understand the importance of strong schools for the benefit of children and the community overall."

The survey questioned 400 local registered voters. It found that among those voters most likely to go to the polls during the upcoming June election, 64 percent would vote yes on the bond.

Of those voters who were likely to turn out in the November election — a presidential election — 66 percent said they would vote yes on the bond.

Gene Bregman, along with a few other employees from his firm, presented their findings to the Mountain View Whisman School District's board of trustees on Jan. 19 — recommending that the district file paperwork by early March to get the bond measure on the June ballot.

"It looks like June would provide a great opportunity for us in terms of the support of local voters," Goldman said. "Unless the board decides otherwise, we are likely to recommend moving forward on a June election."

With the district still stretched thin financially, and with the probability of further state education cuts looming, Goldman said Mountain View Whisman could use revenues generated by a bond to help pay for projects identified in its master plan.

The district's Student Facilities Improvement Plan calls for construction and renovation projects at all Mountain View Whisman schools. The plan is meant to address health and safety requirements, enrollment growth and failing infrastructure, as well as accommodate new educational programs and make for a more energy-efficient school district.

The bond will be supported by up to $30 per $100,000 of assessed property value and require only 55 percent of the vote to be passed. 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

Steve Nelson, a very vocal and regular attendee of local school board and city council meetings, voiced concern over the proposed bond measure at the Jan. 19 meeting of the Mountain View Whisman trustees. He later told the Voice he felt that the entire process seemed rushed and that the district had not provided enough time for community comment.

Goldman disagreed and noted that should the bond be approved, a citizens' oversight committee will be formed to ensure that the Mountain View community will have ample input on all projects the bond intends to fund.

The superintendent said the sooner the bond can be passed, the better. "We hope that voters recognize that a continued investment in our schools is a continued investment in our community, and the long term value of their homes and the great livability of Mountain View," he said.

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