District considers major bond measure Around Town, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Apr 24, 2009 at 1:55 pm
It could cost the Mountain View Whisman Elementary School District $191.7 million over the next 10 years to renovate its campuses, according to a local architectural firm, and the district may turn to Mountain View voters to help fund the renovations.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 24, 2009, 1:33 PM
Posted by eric, a resident of another community, on Apr 24, 2009 at 11:11 pm
They arent asking for the whole $190M to be paid for with this bond. The Voice should give a little more in-depth coverage to such an important topic. If the reporter doesnt understand the material (thats not a dig-covering capital improvements, construction, bond debt, etc, is a lot different than covering education), she should have interviewed the district CFO to gain some clarity before publishing an inadequate article.
The district is taking a long-term look at its assets and seeing what needs to be done to keep ahead of the curve on renovations and modernization. In other words, they are behaving like a business. Bravo!
Posted by Parent, a resident of another community, on Apr 27, 2009 at 9:19 am
I also wondered why this was being discussed, when we just renovated schools. So I did something shocking -- I emailed a board member to ask. (Something people on these forums rarely seem to do before they spout off.)
I learned a lot -- for one thing, that this is just the first step in a 10-year plan, only preliminary discussions are happening, no bond is going on the ballot right now. Since it's preliminary, they are including a lot of "wish list" items that may or may not be feasible. I was also told that the previous renovations did basics (electrical upgrades, HVAC, etc.) but did not renovate any of the portables, most of which are pretty old and extremely energy inefficient; renovating/replacing these with newer facilities will result in massive energy & cost savings for the long term.
There are also issues with the fire alert system--there are two separate systems right now, one for the former Whisman schools and one for the former Mountain View schools. Part of this 10-year plan is to put in one new system for the entire district.
Also, Whisman School was not renovated as part of the Whisman district's bond, because it was being closed at that time. If the district needs to reopen Whisman as a district school, it will need to be renovated.
I found out that the two bonds (they were two different districts then, Mountain View and Whisman, and each did their own renovations) were relatively small compared to the $230M it cost Los Altos to do major renovations to all of their campuses (ours were something like $34M and $36M). Los Altos did more structural renovations and improvements than Mountain View.
As for how it helps kids learn -- There are a lot of well-documented studies that a well-ventilated, temperature-controlled environment with lots of natural light actually does help children learn. Our current classrooms & portables are pretty dark without the lights on. Some of those old portables are pretty smelly, too; I wouldn't want to be in one all day. And their klunky old air conditioners are noisy and inefficient.
By now most of the "new" renovations are almost 10 years old; so by the end of this 10-year plan, the "new" renovations will be upwards of 20 years old. So they are planning for that, rather than waiting for everything to fall apart with no plan in place.
For those who don't want any sort of tax, bond, etc. -- just how do you propose we maintain our school buildings?
As for money left over from the last bond -- I don't know about that, you'd have to ask the CFO. I know that some of the stuff that was planned didn't get done by the end of the school renovations because of increasing costs. So, for instance, some little things (like the sliding white boards that the other schools got) did not happen at Huff. I also don't know if Primary Plus on Eunice (the district's Cooper School site) ever got the bathroom renovations they were supposed to get from the bond. I had heard that there was not enough money for it, but it may have happened. At any rate, if there's money left over, I doubt it's much.
Posted by Don Frances, Mountain View Voice Editor, on Apr 27, 2009 at 10:44 am Don Frances is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
A lot of what "Parent" found out is in the story. But it's still a short story, and Eric and others are calling for more in-depth coverage.
This is a good time to note that these days, with the whole Express thing we're doing, you'll often find short, fast-breaking stories on our Web site soon after an event occurs, followed by the longer and more in-depth follow-up stories later on.
We're still a small news staff here. Remember the old days, when you had to wait till the print version came out on Fridays? That was barely a year ago.
Posted by taxpayer, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Apr 27, 2009 at 12:27 pm
Thanks for sharing additional information. I am impressed that you received a reply to your email.
What is of concern is that the district is contemplating borrowing and spending millions of dollars on newly-renovated facilities in one sentence, and talking about eliminating class-size reduction, science camp, and other educational programs in the next sentence. True, facilities and programs are paid for by different pots of money.
I hope that many parents and community members will attend the district's Community Forum at Castro School on May 4 at 7pm, to provide their input on the development of a new master plan for district facilities.
Posted by Angela Hey, a resident of another community, on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:31 pm
What is missing from this article is the corresponding savings. Tonight I heard from a Stanford energy planner that by investing $100M they could save $600M over 30 years. Schools, unlike businesses, tend to stay in the same place. So what might look like a foolish short term investment could be extremely beneficial long term. So a long term view should be considered, especially as energy costs are likely to escalate and many forecasts do not consider future costs of energy.
Posted by Singh, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on May 1, 2009 at 8:34 am
They just spent quite a lot of money renovating the schools not even 9 years ago. This is ridiculous. They are wasting so much money. Their maintenance guys chit chat most of the time instead of maintaining our schools. Why don't they maintain the schools during the night with no distraction of students and teachers. They would be a lot more productive and the district could save a lot of money.
Posted by taxpayer, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on May 1, 2009 at 8:56 am
Before the schools remodeled, they used fans in the classroom. That was about 4 years ago.
Now you can walk into almost ANY classroom or office and find that the AC or heater if running. All day, every day. In California when it's 70 degrees outside!
Did anyone suggest putting photovoltaic panels on the roofs 4 years ago? The City of MV did, with their new parking structure (the one w/ the Longs under it).
No, I'll tell you what's happened at school, is that trees were removed and never replanted, and the ACs run full blast. And the SUVs sit in a very long line, idling their engines, every morning and every afternoon to transport children who live 1/2 mile from school, and there are bike racks but NO designated bike paths to get to them.
Yes, investing money in facilities that will result in long-term savings is an excellent idea. Why was that mentality not present just 3-5 years ago when the schools underwent extensive renovations. The concepts and materials for energy effectiveness have been around for several years, maybe the district can explain which energy savings strategies were considered during the last renovation.
Posted by DAD, a resident of the Cuernavaca neighborhood, on May 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm
191.7 million? WOW. How ridiculous. Thats a waste of money because they just finished renovating all schools. They are all fine and working great. What realistically needs to be done? I don't think I am going to vote. I have my own worries
Posted by eric, a resident of another community, on May 7, 2009 at 12:13 am
Teacher, bad times are the BEST time for long term planning (planning is not the same as spending). This is a 10 year plan- we'll recover from this recession and likely see another one in that time frame.
taxpayer, the recent renovations were more like 6-8 years ago, and the AC is rarely on in my kids' classrooms (if the heavy duty units on the school roofs really ran "all day" as you claim, the classrooms would be about 50 degrees inside). Oh, and the trees are the cities' responsibility. School districts dont build bike paths through town.
And stop following all the parents dropping kids off to see how far away from campus they live-- either you're making up the 1/2 mile datapoint, or you are a creepy stalker. (I am not aware of anyone that lives near my kids' campus that drive their own kids to school, unless its on the way to another kids' preschool or the parents place of employment)