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Mountain View Whisman board approves $259M school bond measure for March 2020 ballot

Original post made on Nov 22, 2019

The Mountain View Whisman School District is asking voters to approve a $259 million bond aimed at fixing old school facilities and preparing for a surge of new students caused by rapid housing growth in Mountain View.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 22, 2019, 1:43 PM

Comments (24)

Posted by JW
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2019 at 2:27 pm

That’s a lot of money.

Posted by Ok
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 22, 2019 at 2:51 pm

Shouldn’t the new homes bring additional revenues to the school district?
Why the answer to any problem is additional tax burden on the current residents?

Posted by What about the state?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2019 at 3:41 pm

What about the state? is a registered user.

Why can't the state of CA, which has a massive surplus, kick in some money to build needed schools? It seems like that should be state government's job. This is a tough sell to tax ourselves to build schools for people who don't even live here yet.

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Nov 22, 2019 at 4:33 pm

Anyone who walks through MV's K-8 campuses or talks to its teachers know a new bond is necessary. Not because the 2012 Measure G failed, but rather because you can see the real-life benefits the added technology, classrooms, fields, and performing arts centers paid by the past bond bring to better student experiences. A new bond allows MV to further that progress.

However, the proposal to require a supermajority of a future board (4 of 5 trustees) to change priorities set by the current staff and board via a simple majority (3 of 5) is bad policy. Especially when the plan identifies $777 million of potential school spending, yet it's a $259 million bond, and community outreach and input on the formation of the priorities were modest.

Locking in the priority list does not honor the voters who most won't have the time to read the full list, binding future policy changes to a supermajority basically locks out future elected boards from having practical control over the bond, all the while, still giving the district staff the internal wiggle room to direct tax dollars as they see fit.

If there was a supermajority restriction in place in the last bond, there would not be the performing arts centers at the middle schools. Anyone who has gone to a hackathon, concert or musical at those venues knows those were smart community investments, despite initial district staff resistance to them.

The reality is that immediate bond plans (which account for the $259 million) are actually quite good. Yet the district has muddied the conversation by mixing in talk of the future growth plans (which are actually not really part of this bond). Yet messages on this board already reveal that confusion because the district itself mixes talk of the two.

Grand school facility plan predictions have never hued close to reality once you get past a few years, too much changes: demographics, boards, and superintendents. The immediate plan MVWSD will be putting before the voters is a solid plan as long as it, and they, keep their eye and message on the immediate benefits to current residents.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 22, 2019 at 6:29 pm

Gary is a registered user.

I do not know where the Superintendent got the idea - if he did - that a board could vote for a master plan and require any changes to be approved by a super-majority of the board. If there is such a law, cite it. Such a proviso could have been placed in the language of the bond measure to be approved by voters. But I do not see on the meeting video any discussion of such an addition. There is a brief discussion of added language about "priorities" that I will read before taking a position on the measure. If the superintendent and school board got it wrong, they could place a better measure on the November ballot - if this one fails on March 3.

Posted by @Gary
a resident of North Bayshore
on Nov 22, 2019 at 8:03 pm

Link to the meeting discussion on super majority voting: Web Link

Posted by Standing Ovation
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 23, 2019 at 6:53 am

It's interesting how a first-time superintendent like Rudolph, with basically zero experience in handling such multi-million dollar bond measures, speaks so confidently. His past record of blunders should signal caution to voters. And the School Board is hardly any better. Only one member, Wheeler, has any depth of experience, albeit presiding over a steady decline in achievement among the the very class she has long claimed to champion, the socio-economic disadvantaged. Coupled with Vargas Elementary still no connected to power grid, one only wonders the treats this motley crew has in store for us down the road as the tax and spend while, if the past is any measure, delivering meager results at top dollar.

I'll say it again. The only solution is to fire or recall every last one of them and start over with totally new and highly qualified people befitting of this area of high achievement and technological wonder. Until that happens, don't expect anything but the same.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 23, 2019 at 8:20 am

Gary is a registered user.

So I checked the link above to the school board meeting video starting 47 minutes in. The topic was mental health - not the bond measure or draft the facilities master plan. Maybe that is the joke. I have made a Public Records Request for a copy of any school district record that identifies any law that would permit a school board to require a super-majority to later make changes to, here, a facilities plan. I will be surprised if there is any such law. As I expressed above, the district can be bound by the terms of a bond measure approved by voters. The video of the meeting shows that AFTER CLOSING PUBLIC INPUT the Superintendent referred to a written, previously distributed amendment to the proposed bond measure language and the school board voted for the bond measure language as amended. I have now requested the amendment under the PRA. No amendment was made available to the public at the meeting. This superintendent and school board seem to have little regard for public input. This district borrowed and spent $260 million for capital improvements since 2012. The district's leaders now want to borrow and spend another $260 million - as the next step. Let's take a hard look at that. On Monday, another school board will meet about another possible bond measure. Another $900 million for Foothill-De Anza. Already on the March 3 ballot is a state school-college bond measure: $15 billion.

Posted by Fred
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 23, 2019 at 8:34 am

I am very much in favor of improving our schools in every reasonable way possible. But, not this way.

There seems to be an incredible hurry by the city council to add as many residents as rapidly as possible to our small city. The current residents are going to be overwhelmed by the change to their lifestyle, with a terrible impact in traffic (which the city disingenuously denies) and with the ugly transformation of our one and two story city to a city of seven story monstrosities.

To add insult to injury, they want us to pay for the new schools for the students that they are forcing on us. I would prefer that the new developments pay for their projected impact, rather than forcing us to pay.

The bond measure should be divided into two parts. I would vote for improvements to existing schools for existing students. I would vote against paying for new schools to support the students that I do not want in such sudden and overwhelming numbers. They are currently tying the two together into a single measure, and giving themselves great discretion as to which of their goals will get the bulk of the money. I don't trust them.

I will vote no.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 23, 2019 at 10:06 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

This Board has voted to refill the empty construction coffers with new tax money, shortly after the multi-decade borrowing from the last 2012 Bond was used up.
The Board did not amend the legal language to require "old roofs" and "40 year old" classroom heating equipment be taken care of first. Bullet points and bold text do NOT set any legal priority for Citizen Oversight to help enforce. The items were "priority one" for the 2012 Bond project "laundry lists" in SFIP (but Trustee Chiang for instance voted to ignore that). This lack of LEGAL focus, on but a small fraction of the spending list, happened before and can easily happen again!
A simple future Board meeting-quorum-majority (2 or 3 Trustees) can ignore old roofs and old HVAC or ANY other FIRST PRIORITY project, as happened during my term in office. Only the Bond Measure explicit text LEGALLY controls. BTW, the project list covers 26 lines, 239 words and over 30 items, any of which are legal to include or exclude!
Although some promises were make by the District in a 2012 public mailer, those very specific promises were never delivered ("$500,000 per year" in operational savings from old HVAC upgrades for instance).

Thank you former Trustee Chiang for your continued public commentary participation.

Steven Nelson, retired MVWSD Trustee

Posted by Diablo
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 23, 2019 at 5:27 pm

I had something to say, but the second coming by "OK" said it far more succinctly than I would have.

I will add though that I consider these bond measures an end-run around prop tax limits originally set up to protect people. And I'll be needing a senior exemption on that, like I got with another recent school-related property tax add-on. Prop 13 passed as a way to keep seniors (on a fixed income!) from being taxed out of their homes. It ain't sexy but it's the hard facts for many seniors. These bond measures keep chipping away at that, along with the 2% annual tax increases that over the long term add up to a very significant amount.

Posted by Richard Michael 909-378-5401
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2019 at 9:37 am

Using public moneys to influence the outcome of an election is a felony - Education Code 7054 and Penal Code 421(a). Public moneys are used to print and distribute ballots and voter information guides.

Bond counsel approved the sales pitch on the ballot statement that is illegal under AB-195 and other election law. The ballot statement violates all three sections of Elections Code 13119.

This is a sales pitch designed to elicit a "yes" vote.

"MOUNTAIN VIEW WHISMAN SCHOOL DISTRICT CLASSROOM REPAIR/OVERCROWDING MEASURE. To provide safe/modern classrooms, arts/science labs at neighborhood schools for quality education; relieve student overcrowding; replace aging roofs, inefficient heating/ventilation systems; upgrade, acquire, construct classrooms, facilities, sites/equipment; shall Mountain View Whisman School District’s measure authorizing $256,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, levying $30/$100,000 assessed value ($18,600,000 annually) while bonds are outstanding, with independent oversight, audits, no funds for administrators, all funds controlled locally for Mountain View schools, be adopted?"

Nothing in the Elections Code authorizes a local governing body to add a title to a measure. It's a pure sales pitch. What voter wouldn't be in favor of "REPAIR?" What voter wouldn't be in favor of relieving "OVERCROWDING?"

Education Code 15122 requires the "maximum interest rate," which is 12%, on the ballot statement. "at legal rates" is clever lawyers at work to prejudice a vote for the measure.

Education Code 15272 requires the district to disclose that the board appoints the oversight committee (it's not independent) among other things.

Elections Code 13119(b) requires the "duration of the tax," which is 25 to 40 years, on the ballot statement. "while bonds are outstanding" -- once again, clever lawyers at work. The tax rate statement that has the estimated duration is not with the resolution.

That's how the district cheats to get voters to pass a measure.

There's not a single "specific" school facilities project in the measure, violating Proposition 39 and making the oversight committee and the audits completely superfluous. The measure purports to allow the district to spend the money on anything it wants, after it is passed.

The Constitution prohibits bond proceeds to pay, among other things, "teacher or administrator salaries." Think again. Last paragraph of measure changes that language and states "TEACHER AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES." Clever lawyers include language that purports to allow district to reimburse itself for, yes, "DISTRICT ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES." Superintendent and board are depending on the stupidity of the voters to be fooled by the sales pitch. Isn't the school district an expert at producing stupid voters?

Both the Constitution and Education Code 15100 prohibit using bond proceeds for repairs. Repairs are operating expenses.

Then, of course, there is an oversight committee that the governing board stacks with cheerleaders. The oversight committee is totally in the thrall of the board. Oversight is a fraud on the voters.

Is the governing board knowingly and wilfully violating the law to win an election? #HonestBallots

Posted by resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2019 at 11:01 am

I think we have been down this road before. Why do we need more and why did the listed items from Measure G not get completed, the same repairs are listed in both bonds?

The text from 2012 Measure G

“To protect quality education in Mountain View, provide safe and modern classrooms, and make
schools operate more efficiently, shall the Mountain View Whisman School District remove
hazardous lead/asbestos materials, improve earthquake safety, upgrade fire alarms/security, replace
outdated and inefficient plumbing/electrical/heating/ventilation, update computers/technology, and
upgrade, acquire, construct schools, sites, facilities and equipment by issuing $198 million in bonds
at legal rates, with independent oversight and all funds spent on local elementary and middle

The text from current bond proposed

"MOUNTAIN VIEW WHISMAN SCHOOL DISTRICT CLASSROOM REPAIR/OVERCROWDING MEASURE. To provide safe/modern classrooms, arts/science labs at neighborhood schools for quality education; relieve student overcrowding; replace aging roofs, inefficient heating/ventilation systems; upgrade, acquire, construct classrooms, facilities, sites/equipment; shall Mountain View Whisman School District’s measure authorizing $256,000,000 in bonds

Posted by MV is crazy
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 30, 2019 at 4:46 pm

So when do the renters start paying for the schools? MV is supposedly 60% renters who probably majority use the schools. Why do the 40% who own have to always pay for supporting the schools? People used to say renters still paid for these measures through increased rent but now with rent control I doubt that's true.

Turns out it's a terrible deal to buy in MV you end up paying for everyone else. Either live rent and tax free in an RV or buy in another city as this city govt makes no sense. I can't wait to move to a better city. Sorry I wasted 15 years of my life here.

Posted by happy
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 30, 2019 at 6:04 pm

MV is crazy, I'll be happy to take your property off your hands. How about we make a fair trade with the assessed value of it? Since that's all you're contributing to the property tax rolls, and you think it's way too much, that's obviously a fair deal. I'll even let you live in an RV out front afterwards since you think it's so nice.

As for being sorry you wasted 15 years of your life here, well let's just say the feeling is mutual.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 1, 2019 at 11:26 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Yes, we did go down this road before (as we will and must again). The specific projects, and waste or frugality, will be completely decided by a future Board majority. There are over 30 specific items, a few very broad in the Measure legal project list. Any item (pick and choose "laundry list") is legal for the Administration to ask the Board to approve. Any order of items-first-in-line.

It is not illegal for a Bond attorney to suggest language in a Measure and the Ballot summary. That is what they are hired and paid for.

"Quid pro quo" (we are all aware of what that Latin phrase means now) is to be expected, from the various lawyers, architects, financiers, builders and construction unions into the YES CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE. Not into the District, to pay for the election costs, but into multiple mailers, and internet and newspaper 'advertising'. Like the former Bond advertising - there is now in the Measure - the preposterous debunked-by-research idea that building spending will "ensure" MVWSD students will be as prepared as Los Altos SD students for high school. Pure poppycock!

"Quid pro quo" MV Voice coverage of complaign fund contributions for previous Bond. 4/29/2012
Web Link

Posted by Referendum
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 4, 2019 at 8:56 pm

It will be a pleasure to vote NO on this pile of pork as a referendum on that Turkey currently acting as Superintendent. He is doing a terrible job, especially with capital planning. Get rid of Rudolph first. Then possibly ask for added funding. The fake indication that there is future super majority requirement for use of the bond money is just an added reason to vote no.

Plus, there are going to be so many measures asking for cash on the ballot. Foothill is making a big ask too. And MVLA recently had one authorized. It's just too much investment. The district should concentrate on its achievement gap more than prettying up facilities still more. Saying there is projected growth is a terrible reason. That growth is not at all certain, and it is not at all certain to be too much for the current expanded capacity already in place. They can grow by 20% as it is. So ask in ADVANCE to growth more than that, just as it is looking like things will hold steady rather than icnrease? Something smells fishy here.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 5, 2019 at 9:59 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Referendum. - I am personally not yet really to stuff the giblets into the Turkey that you mention. If a Board is lax in it's duty (a Board majority) it will let the architects and administrators 'set the agenda' and 'set the timetable'. We will see if the newest Trustee, Conley - has enough guts to Move: Table the Motion / we don't have enough discussion yet for our priorities recommendations! If the electorate is fine with this current level of planning, and going into further public debt 8 years from the approval of the last Bond, that is their choice! If the electorate thinks - SLOW THINGS DOWN PLEASE, the borrow and tax Measure will not get the 55% approval needed.

Maybe we are back, as then Voice reporter Nick Veronin wrote, to the pre 2012 Board where they rarely asked deep questions or changed administration recommendations.

BTW "no quid pro quo" was the exact use of that Latin phrase that MVWSD administration was quoted as using in the 2012 Campaign (Nick Veronin reporting)! I have been hearing and reading that phrase a LOT recently in US House committee investigations!

Posted by Steven Nelson is funny
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2019 at 9:02 am

Hey Steven Nelson, you are hilarious. So you want to talk about "going back"!?!?

How about: much of the public and the schools are so glad that we haven't been "going back" to when you and Chris Chiang were on the board - a time of total dysfunction, screaming matches, and utter hilarity were it not so pathetic and disgraceful way to manage our kids education. Chiang bailed in the middle of his term as president because he couldn't handle you, was in over his head, and then said he was quitting his responsibility mid-term so he could get you recalled. Now you both like to run the board by proxy from the confines of comments section of this website. Lol. Keep it up!!

I, for one, think our kids deserve better role models.

This is what comes up when you google Steve Nelson trustee:

Steven Nelson recall, Mountain View-Whisman School ...
Web Link...

Oct 11, 2013
Embattled board member gets censured | News | Mountain ...
Web Link

Nov 08, 2016 
More fireworks in the Mountain View Whisman boardroom ...
Web Link...

Jun 17, 2015 · 
Mt. View: Trustee’s resignation focuses on board misbehavior
MOUNTAIN VIEW — School board President Chris Chiang’s decision to resign and work to recall a fellow trustee has thrown the Mountain View-Whisman School District community into a maelstorm. Web Link

Yup! Keep up the great work, y'all!

Must feel so cool to hang out on the local newspaper comment section all day. Lol.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 19, 2019 at 3:33 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

thanks for noticing The MV VOICE! Having worked long (enough) and saved/invested/inherited well (enough) to retire, I have the time to occasionally comment on public matters. And, like the honorable Christopher Chiang, I'm concerned not-a-whit for the animus from the anonymous trolls of the internet (why did Gore invent "internet trolls" when he "invented" the internet? :).

May all your little mythical people be Nice Elves and not Trolls! Merry Christmas!

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2020 at 1:46 pm

Touche, Mr. Nelson, Touche!

I'm so glad that you "saved/invested/inherited well (enough) to retire" - and now you can hang out on comment boards all day trolling the schools! Livin' the dream!

Posted by Watch Dog
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2020 at 1:35 pm

Be careful. Our district provided a priority list of projects and verbally promised to build a new school in a particular area of the district. Based on this, the bond measure barely passed. New superintendent came in and uncovered a complete financial mess in our district coupled with declining enrollment requiring closure of elementary schools, laying off teachers and the decision not to build the promised school. Assistant Superintendent of Business Services was relieved of his duties mid year. Obviously voters in that particular area were outraged, but due to the wording in the bond, they are redirecting the funds elsewhere. The voters failed to read and understand what the district could legally do with the money versus what they were being promised.

Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 6, 2020 at 8:46 pm

"While it's a big real estate investment on the part of the school district, amounting to a public agency cutting a $56 million check to fulfill a developer's low-income housing requirements, Rudolph said told the Voice that the rental income should fully offset the costs over a 35-year term, with maybe $500,000 in excess income." is what was reported when the teacher housing deal was authorized in October 2018

I guess the fine print is that check would be financed by Measure T and the taxpayers?

Not opposed to Measure T (can't vote on it but will gladly pay it) ..but it'd be nice to have more transparency on that deal between city, school district and developer:

Web Link

and who pays for what.

Posted by How Long?
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 9, 2020 at 9:57 am

Read the article and bond measure and I'm still unclear how long it is for? Indefinitely??

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