Town Square

Post a New Topic

District taps into Shoreline funds for new buildings

Original post made on Nov 7, 2014

New building designs could mean a change of pace for Mountain View students starting next year. The Mountain View Whisman School District board voted 4-1 to approve more ambitious construction projects at the district's two middle schools, despite the hefty price tag.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 6, 2014, 2:14 PM

Comments (19)

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 7, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Dear interested community members - there is an interesting contrast in these buildings - and the type of designs that are talked about in the Nov 7th print edition of the Voice pg 8. Note in the drawing - how direct sunlight is hitting the large windows and coming into the building space.
Compare that to the architect drawings for the article "Architect leads the way to sustainable schools." What you get - ...


Posted by UC Davis Grad
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Nov 7, 2014 at 4:53 pm

@Steven Nelson -- Your comments would indicate that designs shown in this article have been finalized, and that any changes have been ruled out.

Is that actually the case?


Posted by MVWSD Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm

I agree with Mr. Nelson & Coladonato. I didn't go to the City Council meeting in 2011 so that the money can go into cost overrun for 2 of the 9 schools! I thought the money would go directly toward our children's education.


Posted by MVWSD Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm

I agree with Mr. Nelson & Coladonato. I didn't go to the City Council meeting in 2011 to petition the council to share Shoreline money with the schools so that the money can go into cost overrun for the improvement of 2 of the 9 schools! I thought the money would go directly toward our children's education.


Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Nov 7, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Mr. Nelson and Mr. Coladonato are misleading in this article.

Shoreline funds are not going towards cost overruns. Cost overruns suggest that your final objective is the same, and merely the cost went up.

Shoreline funds are specially designated to be a catalyst for education reform towards preparing a 21st century technology workforce, not to be used to address general education needs.

Our middle school educators visited Google, Facebook, Palo High School's Media Art Center, Stanford dSchool, and High Tech High (the foremost school in the project based learning movement Web Link and requested a bolder vision for what a 21st century innovation space could be like for our children with the help of some Shoreline funds.

Reggio Emilia views school environment as a child’s "third teacher." Along with the parents and the teacher, the space we built for our children can enable them to discover endless ways to express themselves.

The performing arts auditorium plans did run into cost overruns, and those overruns are not being paid for by Shoreline funds. Our community are busy people and they deserve better than contrarian over simplifications and distort the hard work being done on behalf of our city's children.

Christopher Chiang
Mountain View Whisman School Board Trustee

The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Mountain View Whisman School District or the school board.


Posted by parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 7, 2014 at 7:30 pm

@Christopher Chiang,

I have several questions that maybe you can clarify:

First, did the reporter Kevin Forestieri get the story wrong, saying that Shoreline money will pay for "most of the added costs of the middle school construction projects?" Are Nelson and Coladonato being misleading or did the reporter not clearly differentiate between uses of bond money, reserves money, Shoreline funds, etc?

Second, from this article I really am not understanding how these innovation centers will function. A 2-story building with wrap-around balcony and a big open space in the middle. So, what exactly is the benefit of this particular design and more importantly, what exactly is going to happen in there? Innovate doesn't tell the reader much. There are dozens of elementary schools in California that were built during the "open classroom" trend, where classrooms are centered around a central area and the rooms only have wall dividers instead of actual walls and doors between the rooms, which can be a huge distraction.

I think Mr. Nelson described the drawing quite accurately. To me it looked like a huge, open, empty and rather dreary gray room with blinding sunlight coming through the windows. Where are the teachers and the students and what are they doing in that space?

Third, can you explain why solar panels are feasible at MVHS, LAHS and most other high schools, but not at the elementary and middle schools? Solar panels were the first order of business in the MVLA remodel so they could immediately start saving money. MVWSD remodeled in the early 2000's they installed a/c in all the classrooms (which is hardly needed in our mild climate) and failed to plant any shade trees which could significantly lower cooling costs. MVLA has a very poor history of removing large shade trees and then replacing them, if at all, with small ornamental trees. One can't help but wonder why it's taking them so long to "think green."

Thanks in advance for any explanation.


Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Nov 7, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Dear Parent, I recommend you direct your question to the district, who can give you an official response regarding school construction. District contact: Web Link

I will say that the district did study solar power and was very much driven by the moral principle of not asking the public to pay for projects with questionable returns on their investment. Bonds have high long term interest, and solar projects have to have the right mix of federal/state matching funds and large physical footprints (which high school parking lots provide) to not inadvertently burden the public with a long term bill much higher than what the district immediately saves on electrical savings.

Regarding seeing this building, Palo Alto High School's Media Arts Center is the same approx. size and layout (2 floor classrooms facing an open area) by the same architects (but not the same construction companies). The difference is PALY's center's open area is for public presentations/gatherings, but in our middle school, it will be a library/project space. PALY's site can seen in person in the middle of their campus, or online here Web Link

Regarding natural lighting, no board member has the information to say what to what degree natural lightening will or will not be included, since everything is still being planned. Those interested in such elements should express their interest with the district. Anyone who assumes there will be no naturally lighting is prematurely casting a cynical and "gloomy" image of the project.

Christopher Chiang
Mountain View Whisman School Board Trustee

The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Mountain View Whisman School District or the school board.


Posted by SVTA Robo-Calls
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2014 at 4:35 am

"Mr. Nelson and Mr. Coladonato are misleading in this article."

Not a big surprise after hearing the robo-calls against Measure N paid for by Mr Coladonato's organization (Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association). Measure N is a school facilities bond measure for the Los Altos School District students (many of them from Mountain View)


Posted by parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 8, 2014 at 10:07 am

@Christopher Chiang,

You replied, and gave an honest answer, which is why I did not contact the district office.

Thank you for the helpful information.


Posted by Greg Coladonato
a resident of Slater
on Nov 9, 2014 at 11:31 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

overrun. n. an instance of something exceeding an expected or allowed time or cost.

The middle school projects were given a budgeted of $50m. As of last month, they are currently expected to cost $56m, in other words, they have exceeded the budgeted amount by $6m. According to the normal meaning of the word, they have overrun their budget by $6m.

I don’t think this claim is controversial, or misleading, or should be difficult for anyone to understand.

But that’s not the important point. The point is, I don’t believe it was a good idea for the board to approve the use of the Shoreline reserves, developer fees, and deference maintenance money to pay for this overrun, which is my understanding of what the board did. If I am mistaken, please correct me.

The buildings described in the article are clearly Measure G projects. If the board decides that it’s worth the money to spend $56m on capital improvements at the middle schools, it should simply increase the budget of Measure G bond money used by the projects to be $56m, and not raid the rest of the district’s balance sheet to pay for the projects. Each of those other funds have specific purposes. We shouldn’t treat all the district assets like a big slush fund to be moved around willy-nilly.

Shoreline reserves have the special property that they can be spent on operating expenses, right now. If the district has no idea how to spend any of the Shoreline reserves (which is implied in the article, since the reserves just keep building up), at the same time that we have ~30% of our district students performing below grade level in math and English, then I would like to ask the district to try a little harder to come up with some new ideas.


Posted by SVTA Robo-Calls
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2014 at 8:12 am

Glad to see Greg Coladonato spend more of his time on his district budget than on running robo-calls against the next door district's bond measure.

re: "Shoreline funds"

If Shoreline wasn't a special tax district, property taxes would flow to the districts into the same pool of funds as from any other property. Because Shoreline is a special tax district and because the agreement with Mountain View is limited in time, districts have wisely put these funds in a reserve. It would seem equally wise to not use these funds on recurring operating expenses (since there is no guarantee these funds will be recurrent past the current agreement).




Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm

As can be clearly seen - Trustee Chang and I have different ideas of what cost overrun means. I chose to also refer to it as "keeping within a budget". When I enlarged my private residence- I knew that increasing the scope of the project, would mean using reserves my family had (say from investments or IRAs) to pay for a larger, fancier project. The currently explained middle schools projects have up to $60M committed. The designs are finalized! We are sending them to the Division of State Architect and have just approved shy of $50,000 to send them for plan approval. (Phases excluding Auditoriums and Crittenden fields and all landscaping/parking.) Operational Funds from Shoreline are some of the least "restricted" in MVWSD or MVLA. The $20M 'reserves' have just gone down to $15M.

There is extremely good reporting of this in the District Audit, and the "Combined - Budget Summary"

Mr. Nelson is a Trustee of the MVWSD, like Mr. Chiang [and 2 is max discussion that Trustees can do here]


Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 10, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Ah - odd update since the election outcome for trustee seemed to have turned since the article was published and this last weekend - 3 trustees (even pre-elected) should not be discussing this!


Posted by Anon
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 10, 2014 at 2:42 pm

According to the article, STEM classes can only be taught in a building with a 2 story atrium.

Wow. All my math and science classes were taught in buildings with low ceilings. I guess I must not have learned anything.

Yeesh. 15 foot tall art projects are not the same as serious science education.


Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 8:16 am

STEM is an interesting phrase. As was reported earlier in the Voice, I objected also when the science teachers request at Graham (Phase 1) for specific numbers of sinks in the converted science rooms was repeatedly ignored. Some rooms were being converted for more intensive lab usage (hands-on-science). Although this is 'more mundane' the teachers repeated requests were not honored by the administration/architects and eventually the Board majority. The several science rooms, as modernized, do not have 4-students-per sink areas. And this was because of a $1/4 M 'cost overrun' that would not be supported! Where were Shoreline reserve funds then!

Two of the most experienced science teachers at Graham have since left. Both of them expressed to me personally - this was an example of the type of professional treatment that they didn't wish to take.

Mr. Nelson is a Trustee - commenting on a decision that has been made and 'cast in concrete'


Posted by Whoever
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2014 at 6:42 pm

What I'd like to know is where is the Independent Oversight Committee for the MVWSD Bond Measure? They are supposed to review all these expenditures. There's supposed to be a web site detailing their activities. This is in the California Constitution thanks to the older Prop 39 (which also enabled charter schools requesting facilities).

So where is the MVWSD IOC Web site?


Posted by Hurry Up
a resident of Gemello
on Nov 12, 2014 at 8:57 am

Planning is vital. But at this rate, today's first-graders will be unemployed adults before any construction gets done.


Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 12, 2014 at 9:19 am

@Whoever, I found this link in about ten seconds. Mr. Coladonato is currently part of the Oversight Committee I believe.

Web Link


Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Cha-Ching! We got sommore money! Let's REALLY party now!


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Mountain View Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Home brews to home base: Brewing With Brothas aims to open East Palo Alto taproom
By The Peninsula Foodist | 2 comments | 5,455 views

Jumping on a bandwagon that ends up breaking down
By Diana Diamond | 22 comments | 4,996 views

"A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 3,789 views

Why COP26 matters and what to look for
By Sherry Listgarten | 5 comments | 3,258 views