MVLA approves bond measure, addresses community concerns around facilities plan

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The district approved a $295 million bond measure that will serve as a primary source of funding for upcoming construction and renovation costs under the Facilities Master Plan at the Feb. 5 board meeting.

Responding to an expected looming increase of enrollment of over 500 students, in addition to undersized and aging classrooms, athletic facilities and equipment, the Facilities Master Plan was finalized at the Jan. 22 board meeting. It will expand and update the areas like the school’s library and cafeteria to accommodate student growth, as well as repair existing facilities.

The measure will appear on the June 5 election ballot and will require at least a 55% majority vote to pass. In effect, it will allow the district to issue and sell bonds in order to finance facilities projects.

The district has seen success with previous bonds. In 1995, district voters approved a $58 million bond at 74.7% voter support and again in 2010, when district voters approved a $41.3 million bond at 77.7% voter support, according to a district financial analysis by Isom Advisors.

However, the $295 million amount required for the facilities plan will be a much higher asking than former bonds.

In addition, the district recently resolved multiple concerns from community members, including that of equitable distribution of resources between the schools and a proposed two-story building at LAHS that could encroach neighborhood fence lines.

At the Jan. 8 board meeting, several LAHS parents said they considered the space and resources provided to the LAHS music program insufficient in comparison to those of MVHS, describing MVHS as the “favored school.”

“I would urge the board tonight to reject the plan as submitted. I don’t see how we achieve parity in doing this,” LAHS parent Mark Warren said that night.

In response, the district postponed the vote from the Jan. 8 to Jan. 22 in order to make changes. The revised plan allots 1,000 additional square feet of space to house a musical ensemble or store musical instruments.

The district will also be looking into alternative places to add a second story to an LAHS building that would not infringe on the property lines of nearby residents.

Another common complaint from LAHS parents was that MVHS would be funded more heavily, despite the fact that LAHS currently has more students, but fewer classrooms.

Under the finalized facilities plan, MVHS will receive approximately $10 million more than LAHS.

Yet, MVHS will have 100 core classrooms compared to 102 at LAHS. LAHS will eventually contain 44,860 square feet of athletic facilities while MVHS will have 41,400.

Associate Superintendent Mike Mathiesen said that the reason for this was the current difference in built infrastructure between the two schools.

“MVHS has more undersized classrooms, so there is more work to be done to renovate those rooms, make them larger, so that we can be on par. Hence, there is a larger cost,” Mathiesen said.

Furthermore, most of the increase of enrollment will also be directed at MVHS, necessitating the implementation of additional facilities, according to Mathiesen. Projects in the North Bayshore and East Whisman regions could dramatically increase enrollment, potentially totaling a 1,000 student increase, according to the Mountain View Voice.

In listening to community advocates, Board Trustee Phil Faillace said it would help to build the right perception and trust with the public, which he noted as especially important since community members will be voting to approve the bond measure.

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