MV Whisman eyes new school bond
Bond measure would pay for building upgrades, safety features
Local elementary and middle school district officials are weighing whether to put a bond measure on the 2012 ballot, and have hired a consultant to help them decide.
Last week the Mountain View Whisman district's board of trustees unanimously approved a contract with Gene Bregman & Associates, giving the public opinion and marketing research firm the go-ahead to conduct a local telephone poll to help district officials gage whether the community would support a bond measure, which would come on top of a parcel tax — Measure C — currently in place.
"Part of the purpose of the poll is to determine what funding level voters would be willing to support," said Craig Goldman, superintendent of the district.
The district will pay $18,000 for the poll — $9,000 in advance and the balance after all of the data is delivered.
The poll will take approximately 15 minutes per phone call and around 400 people will be contacted, according to the agreement between the district and Gene Bregman & Associates. Spanish interpretation will be available.
At this point, Goldman said, the district does not know how much it would seek in the bond measure, or if it will even place a measure on the ballot. However, considering the type of bond measure the district is looking into, Goldman said Mountain View Whisman might seek to issue a bond for as much as $200 million.
Facilities need work
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 across 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 master planning is essential to ensure the safety and quality of our school facilities," Goldman said. "We also need to consider whether our facilities meet both our current and future enrollment and program needs." He also noted that there are many housing projects in the works around the city; the district needs to be mindful of that fact when planning for future growth.
It's unlikely that the district will complete all of the projects outlined in its master plan, Goldman said, emphasizing that the district doesn't expect to pay for all improvements with bond revenues.
If the district decides to move forward with the bond, Goldman said, the measure will follow the rules outlined in Proposition 39 — meaning it 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.
A consultant from TBWB Strategies, which has worked with the district on prior bond measures, recommended the June ballot if Mountain View Whisman decides to go ahead with a bond measure. While there will likely be a much larger turnout for the November 2012 presidential election, the consultant determined that the district will have a greater likelihood of success in June.