The board last week agreed to put a $40 million bond measure on the November ballot, which, if passed, would give the district much-needed assistance with improving facilities throughout the city.
The vote was unanimous, with schools trustee Jim Prescott absent.
In anticipation of the public outreach that is getting ready to happen, San Bruno Patch Editor had a Q&A with school board President Jennifer Blanco about what residents can expect next.
San Bruno Patch: Now that the school board has agreed to put the bond measure on the November ballot, can you just briefly tell me what are the next steps?
Jennifer Blanco: Actually, this is second time we voted on it. The reason why didn’t move forward in June was because the governor wasn’t able to put that (special election) together.
So the next step is that the steering committee has already been formed, and the steering committee has already had one meeting.
Patch: What is going to be their primary role? And who’s on it?
It is Dr. Hutt, Russ Hanley and Kevin Martinez. And I plan on being on it now.
Blanco: We’re going to have to educate the community. I do hope to get support from the teachers and the parent organizations—you know, the PTAs and the PTOs. So we’ll be working with them as well.
Patch: What gives you all the confidence that this bond measure could pass? Obviously, which said that nearly 70 percent of the voting population would support it. But that percentage dropped once people were given the figure of $96 per parcel, right?
Blanco: That’s where I think education is important because then we can give the background on why we’re out there right now and why is that we want to use that money to do Phase 2 at .
And the fact that sixth, seventh and eighth grades are going back to Parkside—those types of changes. I personally am very optimistic.
Patch: I know one of the suggestions that was made was that, if the G.O. bond passes, then you all should consider the parcel tax as well—although now I guess you all have a rosier picture of the financial projections. Do you think that will be in the near future?
Blanco: Personally, I don’t think we’re going to move that fast. I think with moving forward with a parcel tax, we’re going to have to take into consideration how the state budget is going to be.
I personally have been in favor of a parcel tax, even before I was a school board member, because I believe it is up to us to really up to us to take care of kids.
Patch: Now you mentioned the second phase of Parkside will be one of the main projects that will get funded if this bond measure passes. But could you remind me, are there any other projects that will happen?
Blanco: We’re going to be upgrading playfields, because that’s something that the community as a whole uses, and playground equipment.
We’re going to upgrade classroom and computer technology, upgrade electrical systems to improve access to computer technology, renovate or modernize classrooms and other facilities, upgrade deteriorating roofs, upgrade outdated heaters, ventilation and air conditioning systems, upgrade old plumbing and sewer systems, install energy efficient windows and replace older doors in aging facilities, replace underground gas, water and sewer lines at campuses throughout the district, install solar and other cost-saving systems throughout the district, make ADA improvements throughout the district including restrooms, classrooms and equipment. And that is the bond project list.
Patch: I know that the steering committee is going to come up with a way to educate the public about why it should support this bond measure. But with the state the way it is, and the way the economy is—I’m just playing devil’s advocate—what would you all do differently?
Blanco: I’ve been attending these board meetings for about a decade, and every time I hear about this type of discussion going on, the community will always come up and say it’s not a good time. But, obviously, it’s never going to be good time.
I understand that argument. But, like I said, we really need to take care of our kids, and like that old cliché says from Whitney Houston: the kids are our future. And if we don’t take care of them, then who is?
Correction: This story incorrectly stated that voter support for a bond measure dropped during a public opinion survey once people were given the figure of $96 per parcel. That figure applies to the parcel tax the school board proposed but didn't decide yet to put before the voters. The public opinion survey did state that voter support for a bond measure dropped from about 70 percent once people were given a figure of $18, $25 or $30 per $100,000 of assessed valuation in property taxes.