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MV Whisman board OKs school renovation plan

Original post made on May 7, 2010

The Mountain View Whisman school board approved a $422 million Student Facilities Improvement Plan that calls for new construction, renovations and improvements at the district's elementary and middle school campuses.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 7, 2010, 1:07 PM

Comments (16)

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Posted by Crittenden Family
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 7, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Crittenden currently has a two story building. Due to poor construction and no insulation, they are unable to use the second floor. The classrooms are empty up there. Why are using the same construction company to build more two story building when they cannot use the original buildings? Are they going to fix what they already built?

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Posted by RoxieK
a resident of North Whisman
on May 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm

The city of Mountain View has a $4 - 5 million budget shortfall. Layoffs are in progress, or a least considered. The fire fighters union has agreed to salary and benefit drops to avoid layoffs. The city council is considering imposing use fees at city parks, etc, etc. Where in the world does the school district think it can come up with $422 MILLION dollars for building renovations?????? Do you really think voters will approve yet another bond for this ill-timed expenditure? The City is laying people off because they have a $4 million deficit and the school district want to start a $422 million dollar renovation project. Where do these people come from?!?!?!?!

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Posted by Alfie
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2010 at 5:18 pm

@RoxieK: The City of Mountain View and the Mountain View-Whisman School District are completely separate entities. The city budget doesn't have anything to do with the school district. I think it would be more appropriate to point out that the school district has about a $6M budget shortfall (which is, I think, about double the city's shortfall as a percentage of total budget).

@Crittenden: This is a bond measure, not a construction contract. They certainly haven't finalized on a construction company yet. They'd have to do competitive bids, etc. As for fixing existing problems, I don't know. Maybe the bond will pay for some of that, too. I don't know if it will but it sounds like you're making the assumption that it won't.

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Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 7, 2010 at 10:05 pm

A tax this size is a historic community investment, so I encourage the community to attend school board meetings or contact the board to give their input before they officially file. Link:

Questions I would ask:
How much money will schools save with the proposed energy upgrades? Is there a vision for green improvements to be part of wider learning process to help students and educators green their whole approach to schools?
As for technology, do they have a clear vision for how a 21st century school should look and function?
Last, charter schools, how about creating space for a charter school for under performing students to act as a laboratory for innovation for the district?

Bond or parcel, it should always be about enabling students to do more, not less, and not the same. More money should mean more for the children and property owners. I hope everyone dreams boldly and then votes boldly.

Below are models, not to copy because our needs aren't identical, but to inspire:
New Line Learning, School Design Ideas for Elementary:
Web Link

Denver School of Science and Technology, School Design Ideas for Middle:
Web Link

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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 7, 2010 at 11:04 pm

I'm sorry, but this one's a stinker. Haven't they heard we are in a recession, with 12% unemployment?? There are people on the brink of losing their homes, who are jobless, and teachers (11 of them) being laid off this year in MVW alone. What the???? I personally would vote "NO" on spending MORE of my tax money to beef up a district with low test scores that is firing teachers, and just spent a couple hundred mill 5 years ago on a bond which updated the schools to 2005 standards. Hello, it's only 2010!!! The kids need up-to-date books, materials, computers, high quality teachers, aides, more specialty classes, credentialed art and PE teachers, enrichment, and so on, not a 2nd story or a fancier building and I am NOT paying for that.

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Posted by Claire
a resident of North Whisman
on May 8, 2010 at 8:37 am

And only teachers are getting laid off. The bloated district office and administrative staff remains the same size, with salary step increases no doubt. Then we have two superintendents as well since who knows when Ghysels will be leaving since it's such a big mystery. Perhaps the board should address that more immediate issue before tackling larger ones in this economy.

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Posted by Teacher
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2010 at 9:30 am

The heating/air at one school is so faulty that the fire alarm went off for real because one classroom overheated. The heaters either don't work and the kids freeze or it just pumps out so much heat that you have to keep the door open. How efficient is this? The truth is that the schools need serious upgrades so that our kids and teachers can be safe and the schools efficient with the energy that is being used. Although I don't agree with a lot administrative decisions, this one has the kids and teachers in mind ... novel concept.

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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 8, 2010 at 11:22 am

Dear teacher, over $100 MILLION dollars was just spent less than 10 years ago on EVERY one of the campuses, and heating and A/C was included! I will call the district (and you should too) because all of those systems are under warranty!! NOthing should be broken yet.
On with the efforts to improve our schools. Yes, the admin. should be trimmed before teachers. In addition, spending money on the QUALITY of education, not the appearance or "green" factor of the buildings will increase property values. MVW is Basic Aid. ANY additional property taxes will increase spending on the quality of the schools!! It is a positivly increasing cycle. Spending money on buildings, which were renovated 6-8 years ago, brings NO new higher spending inviduals to the district and does NOT increase student performance or prop values. It is wasteful.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 9, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Seven tax-paying residents against this bond idea, and one teacher whose newly-installed AC doesn't work.

Please tell me, where is the community support that led the trustees to unanimously approve this?

Does anyone know how many, if any, members of the community spoke in support of this plan at the school board meetings?

How trustees can even be thinking about renovating recently-renovated facilities, while at the same time planning to up class sizes from 20 to 30 kids, is beyond my comprehension.

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Posted by CC
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 10, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Bad Idea!! Keep spending like there is no tomorrow in the name of improving school facilities while laying off teachers, cutting fireman benifits etc... The logic behind the idea just dese not make sense.

BTW, the city will increase the tax on phone usage soon. TAX! TAX! TAX!... that's the best ideas those board member could come up with.

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Posted by @RoxieK
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm

You are free to run for either City Council or the MVWSD School Board if you think "these people" do not represent your views.

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Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 11, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I've gone to about 5 of the Board and or information meetings. 1) I also brought up Crittenden - it would be fixed as part of the addition of classrooms there. 2) There are over 40 temporary classroom units (some leak). These would be replaced. 3) About the only Phase 1 ( $200 M) part of the project I now strongly disagree with [and I've made this clear several times to the board] is removing MURs and rebuilding over existing classrooms $36M?

So- I spoke in favor of going ahead with most priority 1 projects. I've also read the several hundred page survey on ALL the district buildings. To replace the temporaries, fix access, plan for expansion, replace HAC at end-of-life (7-10 more years) guess what = it is on the
order of $100M over the next decade or so !!

BTW - my son goes to Bubb in a classroom that leaked twice at the start of winter.

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Posted by Getting Irate by the minute...
a resident of another community
on May 11, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Mr Nelson, are you for real?

Aren't you the same curmudgeon who wrote an argument .... against Measure A? against providing classrooms to alleviate overcrowding at the high schools .... without any tax rate increase?

Sounds like you have a case of multiple personalities ....

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 12, 2010 at 11:53 am

@localmom: I think the previous bond measures (one for each district, Whisman and Mountain View, which were separate then) were maybe $30M each or so, not $100M or more. I'm sure it's a matter of public record, so someone can find out for sure, but I don't think it was $100M. By contrast, I think the Los Altos district spent well over $200M on their bond, for the same number of school buildings, and were able to do much more extensive renovations.

So I do wonder why the boards back then went for smaller, incremental bonds to do lesser upgrades. (Though Whisman's bond was for fewer school buildings than Mountain View's, so they probably were able to do more, as evidenced by the much nicer aesthetic upgrades to Monta Loma and Theuerkauf than anything on the Mountain View campuses.)

I think they had to have a much larger majority to pass them then (the percentage required is no 55%, but it probably used to be 2/3 majority), and maybe they figured they could never pass a larger bond, so went with the minimum they needed to do the seismic & safety upgrades and re-open Huff (which they had to do that year to accommodate the K-3 class size reduction, which was just being implemented). If anyone recalls the reason, it would be interesting to know.

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Posted by parent
a resident of North Whisman
on May 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I wonder at the wisdom of starting any type of major project such as this at a time like this. The CFO has made it clear that the budget situation is likely to get worse in the next few years and since classes are already set to increase in size, fewer rooms are needed. As long as teachers are being let go and resources are scarce, I do not think this is the right time to make large financial committments.

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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 14, 2010 at 7:46 am

Thank you @Parent (Waverly park) for the clarification, I believe you are correct on the previous bonds; I moved here as they were being implemented but not voted upon. They did a LOT with far less however and this current one, people, is nearly HALF A BILLION dollars. Completely absurd for 7 elementary and 2 middle schools. The mobile classrooms can be replaced with...drumroll please...OTHER mobile classrooms! Plus, when is the Google lease expiring on the campus they rented out on the Whisman school???? They can just get that building back. MUCH CHEAPER. I think the district gets $500K/year on THAT Stinker. Wow wouldn't that be cheaper than a $422 MILLION DOLLAR DEBT to renovate the other campuses, and add more buildings that won't be needed, if they get back the campus they gave away!! How about breaking the contract w/Google and paying a penalty to get it back now?

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