School districts prepare to re-create campuses with bond measure passage | November 13, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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Schools - November 13, 2013

School districts prepare to re-create campuses with bond measure passage

by Renee Batti

Two overcrowded school districts serving kids in Menlo Park and Atherton will get a significant boost in funding to build new facilities and modernize existing buildings thanks to voters who supported bond measures by more than 70 percent margins.

The two-school Las Lomitas School District successfully pushed a $60 million bond measure — Measure S — to build new two-story buildings, eliminate 18 portable classrooms, and renovate existing buildings at Las Lomitas (K-3) in Atherton and La Entrada (4-8) in Menlo Park.

In the Menlo Park City School District, which has three elementary schools and a middle school, voters overwhelmingly supported Measure W, which will raise $23 million to build a fifth campus in Menlo Park. The new school will be built on a district-owned site in the Willows neighborhood, where the district had operated O'Connor School until closing it and leasing the campus, beginning in 1991, to the German-American International School.

Both bond measures needed 55 percent approval to pass.

Late last week, the county Elections Office reported the following results: Measure W passed by nearly 75 percent, with 3,756 yes votes, and 1,261 no votes. Measure S passed with 73.5 percent approval; 2,088 voters supported it, with 753 opposed. The county will release updated figures on Nov. 12, according to the Elections Office website.

The Las Lomitas district estimates that property owners' Measure S assessment will be $30 annually per $100,000 of taxable property. According to the school board, the payments would likely be ongoing through 2045.

The Menlo Park district estimates that the 25-year, $23 million bond will cost district property owners an average of $8.70 per $100,000 of assessed value, and district leaders have said they're aiming for a single-series current interest bond issue.

No one submitted ballot arguments against either measure.

Both school districts have been overwhelmed by enrollment increases that far exceeded projections based on consultant studies done more than 10 years ago. In the Menlo Park district, each elementary school campus opened the school year with a new portable building; all of those schools have enrollments that exceed their capacity.

Based on earlier studies, the district had expected enrollment to plateau around 2015, but the latest study shows enrollment continuing to grow through at least 2022. Since 2000, enrollment has grown by 40 percent, according to district officials.

Measure W will fund construction of a school for third- to fifth-graders coming from the K-2 program at nearby Laurel School in Atherton. The district plans to open the new school in 2016.

Enrollment in the Las Lomitas district has also risen 40 percent in the last decade, and the increase is expected to continue, according to school officials.

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