Next Phase of Improvements to PAUSD Schools
Ten years ago, local voters overwhelmingly approved the Strong Schools Bond to fund significant improvements to PAUSD schools. These projects have been completed on time and on budget and addressed the most urgent needs of PAUSD facilities at that time.
The Strong Schools Bond was only intended to address approximately half of the facility improvement needs identified at the time. As these upgrades are being completed, PAUSD is planning improvements to support the District’s goals of high-quality teaching and learning, equity and access, and student wellness and safety.
These improvements will continue the upgrades the Strong Schools Bond program began, enhancing school security, and upgrading classrooms and labs to meet 21st-century instructional standards.
Potential Facility Improvement Measure
In order to complete the next phase of identified repairs and improvements, the PAUSD Board of Education is placing a $460 million bond measure on the November 2018 ballot. If supported by 55% of voters, a local funding measure would:
- Ensuring school facilities are accessible for students with disabilities and equitable for all
- Upgrading schools to current seismic safety standards to keep students safe in the event of an earthquake
- Completing needed repairs at school facilities
- Ensuring all students have equitable access to classrooms and facilities meeting high educational standards
- Increasing school safety and security, such as fire alarms, door locks and emergency communication systems to bring security systems up to current standards
- Providing classrooms and labs to support up-to-date science, technology, engineering and robotics instruction
- Providing up-to-date facilities to maintain outstanding performing and visual arts programs
Mandatory Fiscal Accountability
A potential measure would include strict fiscal accountability provisions. By law, all funds must stay local and no money could be taken by the State. No funds could be used for administrators’ salaries, pensions or benefits and independent citizens’ oversight would be required. A measure would add approximately $39 per $100,000 of assessed (not market) property value.
Please Share Your Opinions!
Please contact Bob Golton at 2018Bond@pausd.org with questions or comments.
Learn More about the Next Phase of School Upgrades
Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) is located in the heart of Silicon Valley and is well known for its rich tradition of educational excellence. Thanks to our supportive community and dedicated parents, teachers and staff, student achievement is among the top in the state and the nation. Our outstanding schools help maintain our quality of life and keep Palo Alto a desirable place to live.
Thanks to the support from local voters for the Palo Alto Strong Schools Bond ten years ago, PAUSD has been able to fund many important improvements to PAUSD schools. Classrooms, science labs and student support facilities have been built or modernized at many schools. A seven-member independent citizens’ oversight committee has consistently reported that bond projects were completed on time and on budget.
When the Palo Alto Strong Schools Bond was approved ten years ago, it was only estimated to address approximately half of the facility needs identified at that time. Since that time, new projects have been identified resulting from changes in learning technology, educational curriculum and student enrollment trends. As the Strong Schools Bond upgrades are being completed, PAUSD is planning the next phase of improvements to enhance school security and upgrade classrooms and labs to meet 21st-century instructional standards.
After completing a thorough assessment of each school and receiving input from parents, teachers, staff and members of the community, PAUSD has developed a detailed list of improvements needed at each campus. Top priority projects would include ensuring schools are accessible for students with disabilities, upgrading schools to current earthquake safety standards, providing classrooms and labs for current science and technology instruction, and improving school security with up-to-date door locks, alarms and emergency communication systems.
Significant school facility improvements are beyond the scope of the school district’s regular general fund budget and would take funding away from classroom instruction. Very limited state funding is available for school facility upgrades, and most state funding requires local matching funds. In order to complete the next phase of identified repairs and improvements, the PAUSD Board of Education voted unanimously to place a $460 million bond measure on the November 2018 ballot. If supported by 55% of voters, this measure would provide locally-controlled funding for school improvements. Bond measures are the mechanism used by all school districts to make periodic investments in school facility modernization and improvements.
A $460 million bond measure would cost approximately $39 per $100,000 of assessed value for property owners. Assessed values are based on the original purchase price of a home and are typically much lower than current market values. By law, funds from this measure may only be used to complete the specific school facility projects identified in the measure. No funds may be taken by the State or diverted to other school districts.
PAUSD’s Preliminary Bond Project List, detailing the current prioritization for use of bond funds at each school site based on current project cost estimates. These preliminary priorities were developed with input from students, parents, teachers and staff at each school while also seeking to meet PAUSD’s goal of achieving an equally high standard of classrooms, labs, student support facilities and grounds across all campuses. While these preliminary priorities are designed to provide a conceptual roadmap for the execution of the next phase of school facility improvements, the plan is designed to allow sufficient flexibility to accommodate changing needs and priorities over the approximately ten-year duration of this facility improvement program. As such, before work commences on any project, specific plans and cost estimates will be presented to the Board of Education for review discussion and feedback. We expect this Preliminary Bond Project List to be revisited and updated frequently during the implementation of this facility improvement program to ensure it evolves to align with changes in student enrollment trends as well as advancements in learning technology, career technical education, instructional standards, student safety and security standards and other factors.
Yes, an independent citizens’ oversight committee is required to review the use of funds and report their findings to the public to ensure funds are only used for the projects identified in the measure. No funds may be used for administrators’ salaries, pensions or benefits.
In 2015, local voters passed a measure to renew local parcel tax funding to protect academic programs and attract and retain qualified teachers in local schools. While the parcel tax measure can support academic programs and teachers, it does not fund our facility improvements. Similarly, by law, bond measures may only fund facility, technology and equipment needs. Each respective source of funding is dedicated to a specific use and strict accountability requirements ensure funds are only used for those purposes.
Bond measures and parcel tax measures are used for different purposes — bond measures can only fund facility upgrades and improvements, and cannot be used for operating costs or programs. Parcel tax funding may be used for teachers, instructional programs, maintaining small class sizes and other operational costs.
By California law, a school district has 60 days from the passage of a bond measure to form the oversight committee. It must be comprised of seven volunteer members who serve a term of two years each. Composition of the committee must include representatives from the business community, a senior organization and a taxpayer organization, as well as parents with children in the District. In addition, no employee or vendor of the District can be a member of the committee.
The Board of Education voted to place a school improvement bond measure on the November 6, 2018 ballot. All registered voters within PAUSD would be eligible to vote on the measure and it must receive support from 55% of those who vote in order to pass.