News


Las Lomitas district's $60 million bond measure passes

Voters said yes to the Las Lomitas School District's construction plans for its two schools by approving Measure S, a $60 million bond measure, by a wide margin.

With all 18 precincts counted along with mail-in ballots received by election day, the county reports 1,859 votes in favor (74 percent), and 656 votes against.

Measure S will raise $60 million in bond revenue to build new two-story buildings, eliminate 18 portable classrooms, and renovate existing facilities at the district's two schools -- Las Lomitas (K-3) in Atherton and La Entrada (4-8) in Menlo Park. It will not include complete reconstruction of the campuses, but instead would tear down up to one-third of the current structures to make room for new classrooms.

Like the nearby Menlo Park City School District, the Las Lomitas district has been reeling from far greater-than-projected enrollment, and has been struggling to accommodate the students. According to the district, enrollment has increased 40 percent during the past decade.

The district estimates that property owners will be assessed $30 a year per $100,000 of taxable property.

Click here for the Almanac's Voter Guide story on Measure S.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jon Dash
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:29 am

Ha! More taxes. Has everyone noticed every Government organization independently proposes new taxes...and they all say well it is only a small increase, but incrementally it adds up to a big share. Add increase in federal tax, Obamacare tax (my health insurance went up), state tax, county sales tax increase,city/house tax increase and suddenly you are at 10%+ increase! Hope the school district uses these funds well and not waste it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by WP
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:50 pm

I voted for Measure S and have high confidence that the Las Lomitas District will use the funds wisely. We need to be vigilant and hold government accountable for spending our money, and in our area, I think we're fortunate to have public leaders who are generally prudent, well informed and committed to the public good. I'm reminded of the quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I think this result is a real shame. While well-intentioned, ignorant voters are enabling llsd to continue their poor management of finances. Llsd has more streams of dollars coming in than most school districts, yet is unable to translate those dollars into adequately maintained campuses.

Cramming more kids into the 2 current schools when it owns two additional campuses seems pretty indefensible in my book.

The upside is that the people that chose this option will be the ones paying for it.

Good luck with that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by LLESD parent
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Dear Peninsula Resident,

Before you slam this as poor management of finances, you should take the time to educate yourself on the options that were considered and then dismissed. The School Board did an extensive study of taking back the campuses that are currently leased by Woodland School in Ladera and Phillips Brooks next door to La Entrada. The costs to take back those facilities and bring them up to code, combined with the loss of lease income and the additional cost of ongoing maintenance far exceeded the cost of adding on to existing campuses. It also preserves something greatly valued by all residents of the community and that is having the same cohort of kids go through the schools together (as opposed to MPCSD where kids are split between Lauren, Encinal and Oak Knoll before combining at Hillview).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Voted Against
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm

My main problem with Measure S was simply the pricetag. $60 million dollars? This will cost every property owner hundreds of dollars every year for the next 30 years! I used to donate to the Los Lomitas Educational Foundation. Now that money will go to Measure S.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another LL Parent
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Well said LLESD parent! This has been extensively thought through for several years. With a 40% enrollment growth over the past 10 years, we are well in need of these building projects.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MPCSD parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Dear LLESD parent, Why are you dragging MPCSD into this by suggesting that MPCSD's configuration as being inferior somehow to yours? There are pluses and minuses to every configuration. We happen to like the way we are configured here, and really wouldn't prefer your configuration. MYOB!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kaz
a resident of La Entrada School
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I keep telling my kids to screw up on the STAR tests, that we've got to lower the scores so that our neighborhood stops drawing all those young families to a great school district. One of them forgot my advice last year and got 100% on both math and English! We're gonna make her pay the bond tax out of her allowance, it's her fault people keep buying the houses around here, driving up property values and everything.

"Build it and they will come," they say....well, we haven't built anything yet and they're coming in droves!! There ought to be a law requiring every incoming family to put down the capital to make space for their kids. If they don't pay up, then their kids have to sit outside. If there isn't enough classroom space for them, well tough, that's just the way life is.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Which tax payers will pay the bond costs? All of Menlo Park and Atherton, or just those folks in the Las Lomitas School District?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:48 pm

LLESD Parent wrote:
> you should take the time to educate yourself

Well, actually I did take some time to educate myself, but the district doesn't even bother keeping their financial records up to date on their website. Observe: Web Link

The most recent records on their site are from 2011-2012!


Also, the fact you didn't refute most of what I said is noteworthy. Let's review:

"Llsd has more streams of dollars coming in than most school districts" TRUE. How many other school districts have 50% of their campuses rented out? And there is of course the foundation, and property taxes and federal dollars and state dollars.

"is unable to translate those dollars into adequately maintained campuses." TRUE.

"Cramming more kids into the 2 current schools when it owns two additional campuses seems pretty indefensible in my book. " OK, you actually addressed this one. Keep in mind that nationally, you are in the distinct minority in your preference to have 1 big elementary school, but to each his/her own.


Question: does LLESD offer a curriculum significantly improved (in both options and quality) as compared to MPCSD? For your sake I hope so, because otherwise you're overpaying.


Just curious.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Taxing Into Oblivion!
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Nov 7, 2013 at 9:33 pm

It is a real bummer when you realize that this is not the first nor second but THIRD bond measure passed by LLSD. There were already 2 bonds on tax bills before this one just passed. It is a shame the districts are never-ending with their desire to keep taxing the residents and citizens into oblivion. More money does not equal better schools. Trim the fat, cut the waste, and start fundraising and building a foundation for the future. Help out the common man in the community . . the hard tax-paying citizen who actually works long hours to be able to pay the bills and taxes. Give them a break! There are plenty of high net worth individuals, private foundations, and venture capitalists around here to go bug endlessly.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Inquiring Minds Would Like to Know
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Nov 7, 2013 at 9:39 pm

What happened to all the money LLSD got from selling off all their land and property in Sharon Heights adjacent to the Phillips Brooks school district??!
There is a whole cul-de-sac of new multi-million dollar homes that developers/builders had a heyday building on LLSD land. Did they already burn through the money and not improve the financial standing of the district's finances?! Inquiring minds want to know . . . .truth and honesty with the people.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lax
a resident of La Entrada School
on Nov 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm

My last comment was tongue in cheek, but here's the basic fact:

LLESD enrollment is exploding. There is nowhere to put all the new kids. As much as we act like it's a private school, it's public and must provide education to all students within its district boundaries. It needs more classrooms, which do cost $.

$30/100,000 of assessed value. If your home is assessed at $1,000,000, that's less than a dollar a day over the year. If your house is assessed at $2,000,000, it's less than $2/day over a year.

If paying an extra $1 or $2 a day is just too much for your budget, then sell your million dollar home (property value increase due largely to good schools) and move somewhere that doesn't care about schools. Very few houses in our district sell for less than $1,000,000. It's rather hard to empathize with anti-tax millionaires who don't have the economic savy to cut $1/day out of their expenses to adjust their budget. You complain government and school budgets are wasteful -- what about your household budget?

I completely support Oliver Wendell Holmes' quote above: "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Nov 8, 2013 at 6:02 pm

LLESD enrollment, 2012-2013: 1,419
MPCSD enrollment, 2012-2013: 2791

LLESD budget 2011-2013(the most-recent budget they had on their website): 18,331,000
MPCSD budget: 32,000,000

LLESD Per-student: 12918.82
MPCSD Per-student: 11465.42

And keep in mind that the budget number for LLESD is very likely higher now than 2 years ago.

AND keep in mind that this does not include the additional dollars coming in from Measure S.

And it continues to be noteworthy that nobody is able to refute my facts. Everyone that responds just blathers about "blah blah blah...2 dollars per day...." conveniently forgetting that people are already paying a few dollars per day more from previous bonds.


You people are over-paying. That's a fact, you only have to look at the school district's finances next door for that to be clear. Just thought you should know.



Sources:
Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by So you are saying
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Nov 8, 2013 at 8:48 pm

It's an interesting conclusion that Las Lomitas is over paying because it spends more dollars per student than MPSD. An alternative conclusion is that Las Lomitas is just spending more dollars per student on educational experience in the classroom.
This is a truly lame discussion. Both districts are excellent and have excellent trat scores. Obviously parents in both districts are well satisified, given the level of foundation fundraising, pto involvement, and the success of the bond measures. Peninsula resident, go find somewhere else to stir up trouble. Your conclusions are weak, self serving, arrogant, and most likely born out of jealousy.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Nov 9, 2013 at 10:34 am

"So you are saying" wrote:
> An alternative conclusion is that Las Lomitas is just spending
> more dollars per student on educational experience in the classroom.

If you read this thread, I asked a similar question earlier. I'm skeptical that is the case, but eagerly await being proven otherwise.

> This is a truly lame discussion.

Really? You think holding government organizations accountable to financially effective "lame." Wow. It's little wonder this country is in the financial mess it's in, given the demonstrated apathy in this thread.

> Both districts are excellent and have excellent trat scores.

Academically, this is something on which we agree. Where we differ is on the quality of LLESD financial management. The math proves it is less than excellent. You are overpaying relative to nearby districts that offer comparable levels of performance, that's a fact.

> Peninsula resident, go find somewhere else to stir up trouble.

If pointing out the financial mismanagement of LLESD makes me "trouble", then call me trouble.

> Your conclusions are weak

How so? So far nobody has been able to refute any of them.

> self serving

How so?

> arrogant

I didn't realize my grasp of basic math and web searches was so intimidating.

> and most likely born out of jealousy.

Really? Jealous of what, exactly?

You and parents like you in LLESD seem to be under the illusion that the only way to keep LLESD at its current academic performance levels is to continue to pay a higher and higher cost, even higher than districts that score as well or higher. Neighboring school districts prove that this is just not true. You are overpaying, pretty substantially, actually.

We parents demand high academic standards from our school districts. We should be demanding high financial standards as well.

You are overpaying. That's a fact.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Nov 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Here are more comparisons with other school districts:


District Finance Comparison Results, Fiscal Year 2011-12 (the most-recent numbers from the source shown below), per-student:

LLESD: expenditures=13,241 base API=965 pupils/teacher=13.3
MPCSD: expenditures=11,770 base API=940 pupils/teacher=17.6
Los Altos ESD: expenditures= 9,587 base API=969 pupils/teacher=22.2
Cupertino U SD: expenditures= 7,469 base API=962 pupils/teacher=23.9
Saratoga U ESD: expenditures=11,029 base API=969 pupils/teacher=19.7


And these numbers are BEFORE Measure S. For example, LLESD is spending almost $6,000 more PER STUDENT compared to cupertino, and cupertino is getting a similar API number.

Let's see, $5765 per student * 1,419 students = $8,180,535 overspent in LLESD in comparison to Cupertino.

Other school districts are getting similar results paying less. That's a fact.


Source, ed-data.k12.ca.us :
Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2013 at 3:33 pm

$30 per $100,000 for a year, $1,000,000 equals $300 a year.

Doesn't seem like much if want to live in a high performing state of the art excellent school district.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 9, 2013 at 5:26 pm

@resident,

Before you try to lead others to conclusions on cost/benefits, you would be wise to do better apples-to-apples analysis. Not useful to do comparisons of LLESD against cost structures of far larger Unified districts like Cupertino, that also include High Schools (if you want to include, use Palo Alto Unified as the comparison - they are closer and more similar in demographics). You might also want to consider that is a conscious choice to spend more on a lower student to teacher ratio - LLESD is extremely strong in that regard. Many studies indicate that a low student to teacher ratio leads to educational benefits and positive outcomes well beyond simple test scores.

And if you really want to look at overspending, you might want to compare against the average per pupil spending for the entire state of New York. Compared to their 19K/student (for the whole state), LLESD looks positively frugal (or downright miserly in investing in our kids).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Nov 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm

stats wrote:
> you would be wise to do better apples-to-apples analysis. Not
> useful to do comparisons of LLESD against cost structures of far
> larger Unified districts Unified districts like Cupertino, that
> also include High Schools

That is "Cupertino Union". It's an elementary school district, no high school within the district: Web Link

> if you want to include, use Palo Alto Unified as the comparison
> - they are closer and more similar in demographics

Why would Cupertino Union be excluded because of "demographics"? And why would LLESD need to spend almost twice as much to get similar results due to "demographics." Please clarify.

All of the above districts were Elementary SDs. Using your criteria, the comparisons remain valid.

> And if you really want to look at overspending, you might want to
> compare against the average per pupil spending for the entire
> state of New York.

Now this is a good example of Apples and Oranges. My point continues to be that there are nearby school districts that accomplish comparable academic performance using fewer funds per student than LLESD.

This assertion remains valid. LLESD households are overpaying for similar academic performance in comparison to nearby elementary school districts.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm

@resident,
Glad you took the bait... You are correct that Cupertino Union is an Elementary/Middle district, but it does have a little over 16,000 students. LLESD has just shy of 1,400. That would make Cupertino well over 10x larger - Apples-to-Oranges. 13.3 pupils/teacher vs 23.9 pupils/teacher = Apples-to-Oranges (80% more students/teacher in Cupertino). So I don't see why throwing other states that value education more into the mix is any less valid.

BTW, your main premise is that test scores are the end-product. Well-educated kids should be the end-product wre aiming for instead. Test scores are just one of many measures...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Nov 11, 2013 at 8:27 pm

> Glad you took the bait... You are correct that Cupertino
> Union is an Elementary/Middle district

I See...you saw the "Cupertino U" in my previous post, but you didn't mistaken the "U" for "Unified", you actually used the "U" to hatch a plan to bait me. Riiiiight.

I'm not buying it.

Now on to your point.

> a little over 16,000 students. LLESD has just shy of 1,400.
> That would make Cupertino well over 10x larger

If you looked at the links or data I provided in this blog, you'd seen that there are other nearby elementary districts with student populations that are closer to LLESD, with similar levels of academic performance, that also cost less per student than LLESD. Here are some more examples:

District Comparison Results, Fiscal Year 2011-12:

MPCSD : Expenditures per ADA=$11770 base API=940 # of pupils=2719
Saratoga Union : Expenditures per ADA=$11029 base API=969 # of pupils=2109
Los Altos Elementary : Expenditures per ADA=$9587 base API=969 # of pupils=4486
Los Gatos Union : Expenditures per ADA=$8468 base API=935 # of pupils=3106
Loma Prieta Joint Union : Expenditures per ADA=$10135 base API=934 # of pupils=0435
LLESD : Expenditures per ADA=$13241 base API=965 # of pupils=1363


> BTW, your main premise is that test scores are the end-product.

No. I never said that. If someone had unbiased evidence of (for example) higher college graduation rates for LLESD than all the nearby, comparable elementary school districts mentioned, that would at least give SOME proof that people are getting something for the significantly higher costs in LLESD.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm

The dollar amount of this bond seems out of proportion. Why 60 million for some school buildings? My understanding is that this money does not even go towards land? You can buy large mansions in Atherton for 30 million and they come with land. I am not sure if people understand how much they will be paying for this bond and for how long (decades I believe). For those of us who don't have unlimited funds to give, this can mean giving much less to the foundation. The money has to come from somewhere.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 12, 2013 at 9:30 pm

@resident,
Here's a good survey article for you on researched benefits of small class size.
Web Link
One would have to guess that LLESD students are seeing those benefits, though one of the only ways to truly assess the aspect you seem to focus on, test scores, would be unpalatable - increase the class size for a random segment of a class cohort for five years and look at test score differences. Not buying your "comparable school districts should give similar results" theory.


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