The Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) will be asking for authorization to sell up to $323 million worth of bonds for a long list of improvements to its facilities when voters cast ballots in the March 3 presidential primary election.

PUSD wants to accomplish projects in a wide variety of categories, selling bonds over 31 years to make sure they are financed as they come on line.

Measure I-1, which voters approved in 2016 for $270 million, got the ball rolling with several ambitious projects.  Sales of its bonds financed the district’s 10th elementary school, which will be built on the current Donlon elementary school site on Dorman Road.

Donlon school will remain, but be converted to a k-3 school. The new school now called E-10, because it is the district’s 10th elementary school will be built as a 4/5 grade school next to the Donlon k-3. Total enrollment will be 1200 at the site, up from the current population of 824.

Construction on the 4/5 is due to begin in summer 2021 and completed in fall 2022.

Another major expenditure under Measure I-1 will be the Lydiksen elementary rebuild and modernization. Construction is projected to start in February 2020 and wrap up in summer of 2021.

Following up on the Measure I-1 improvements, Measure M would  finance a long list of improvements, including upgrading the district’s wireless network, upgraded heating and cooling  systems, replacement and modernization of  high school gyms, a new  theater at Foothill High School and a modernized  one at Amador High School.

Replacing and upgrading playfields at some middle and elementary schools are also on the list.

PUSD estimates that the bond would cost property owners $43 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. The assessed valuation is set by the county assessor's’ office. It is not the same as a market price that a developer or a homeowner might get for the property. People should check their tax bills to determine their property’s assessed valuation.

The $43 per $100,000 assessed valuation would work out to $430 per year for an assessed valuation of $1 million.

The bond taxes would conclude in 2051/52. The debt service to pay off the bonds, including principal and interest, would $661 million.

The bond money may not be used for any salaries, including teachers and administrators.

A citizens’ oversight committee would be established to keep track of the money and ensure it is spent according to the announced plans.

The pro-M argument in the county’s voter pamphlet is signed by school board president and former PUSD principal Steve Maher, Pleasanton Councilman Jerry Pentin, former councilman Arne Olson, former planning commissioner Gina Piper, and PTA Council President Maritess Simmons Gomez.

At a November meeting where the board unanimously approved going for the bond, trustee Mark Miller said that, at $323 million, the list of projects is realistic. The district can go from “scraping by” to “moving our schools into world class.”

Trustee Joan Laursen said that the first sale of bonds under measure I-1, which was approved by voters in 2016 for $270 million, showed that more money is needed to carry out the plan’s projects.

Laursen said that she is confident that voters will approve the new bond, since they understand what it takes to bring facilities up to current standards. The list of projects was formed by a committee four or five years ago; the district and public have had many discussions about facility needs.

At least 55% of the votes cast must be in favor of the measure for it to pass. Polling in the district showed that 57% would approve a $323 million bond.