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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Time for new collaboration between city and school district

Uploaded: Jan 16, 2018
Pleasanton school trustees wisely are carefully considering how to spend the $270 million bond issue that voters passed two years ago.
During this time, they have a great opportunity to reach out to the City Council and re-invigorate the partnership between the two government agencies. The city currently is updating its plan for downtown Pleasanton, a plan that includes relocating City Hall and the police department from their current downtown locations to a new site on the Bernal property. It’s an expensive long-term proposition, but it’s also a welcome recognition that downtown businesses no longer need the presence of City Hall and its employees to survive and thrive.
The school district owns two parcels that can be better utilized. There’s the Vineyard Avenue site that once was planned for an elementary school. Building a school on that isolated site makes no sense. The district should apply to the city to rezone it for residential and sell it to a builder.
The other key site is the district offices/corporation yard and Village High School at First Street and Bernal. It is a waste of a prime site for residential in the downtown area and it poorly utilized by the district. The district should apply to rezone that site for high-density residential given its ideal walkable location to downtown—it’s a prime parcel that builders would be lining up to buy.
Then, the district can partner with the city on a joint venture of city and school district offices on the Bernal property and figure out a joint corporation yard with the city over on Busch Road.
The two rezoned parcels could be sold to builders for millions, money that could help fill the gap between the $270 million bond measure and the $500 million that was identified total needs in studies completed prior to the bond measure. The $270 total was based on polling that showed how much residents would be willing to pay in additional property taxes—not the total need.
During a recent study session, trustees indicated support for a k-8 school located on the north side of town where three schools have about 100 students more than the elementary school goal of 700 students.
While the studies are still ongoing in both agencies, it time to be bold and invite city leaders into conversations about how together they can create win-win solutions to enhance their services and lower costs for the constituents they all serve.
A generation ago, city and school district leaders collaborated on the heavily used gyms at Harvest Park and Pleasanton middle schools. In that same time frame, they could not agree on combining maintenance operations into one facility, thus the school district opted for the First Street site.
It’s time to rectify that mistake and optimize value for both agencies and the public.
Incidentally, one troubling trend is the negative attitude being expressed by trustees and others about portable classrooms. The view implies that portables are not suitable for a quality education—tell that to a generation of Amador Valley students who attended classes in banks of portables while new classrooms were built.
Building all permanent classrooms assumes there will always be the student population to fill them. Check out the closed schools Livermore and it’s clear that’s a faulty premise. Livermore, which has more than 10,000 more residents than Pleasanton has closed four elementary schools over time and still has fewer students can Pleasanton today.
At one time, the state appropriately conditioned matching funds with the requirement that 50 percent of the classrooms were portables. The concept was to build the core school with facilities such as the multi-purpose room and offices that could be converted to other uses and add or remove portable classrooms to meet demand.
Pleasanton has not seen its student population shrink, although the demographers predict it will do just that over the next 10 years.

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Posted by FalseNews & AlternativeFacts, a resident of Mission Park,
on Jan 19, 2018 at 4:42 am

This idea was already brought up at a City Council meeting and was "shot down"

During the Bernal Property task force agenda item at City Council, Council member Narum (who is on the PUSD-City Liaison Committee) asked for such collaboration.

Council member Pentin stated the PUSD is too late, and should have voiced an interest earlier.

Ms. Narum did not get any support for her proposal at the meeting from the Mayor or any other Council member.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on Jan 19, 2018 at 11:47 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Tim, you confuse portables and modulars. And at one time, the district listed everything as portables, so even I was not clear. You also need to factor in over enrolled schools (3 at the elementary) and the 169 elementary students who cannot go to their neighborhood schools (most from Donlon according to staff); plus, many of the portables are beyond their lifespan and either need to be replaced or refurbished. And there's that pesky $215,000 we are spending on leases every year for many many years. And we aren't done developing, and the governor is looking over the city's shoulders again. The demographers have consistently said we need two new elementary schools, including the portables, at "maturation." Their next report is in February.

If you took all nine elementary schools and divided the population equally among them (6,160), we have room for 144 more students across the district to stay within the 600-700 school size the board agreed to, and that is at 700 students each.

It takes 3-5 years to build a school if you can put the shovel in the ground today. We won't float the next portion of bonds until 2019. That means we could be 5-7 years out from having a functional school.

Otherwise, I would agree collaboration is needed and combining the district and city services is worthy of exploration.

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