The Millbrae Elementary School District, which has seen its class sizes grow, staff reduced and music program shuttered, is hoping voters will support a $30 million bond to pay for upkeep and modernization of its five aging schools.
November’s Measure N would fund completion of projects begun under another $30 million bond measure, which voters passed in 2008. Yet despite carefully articulating its needs, the district faced questions about why it wants more so soon.
“We’re down to the bare bones,” Trustee Caroline Shea said. “We took out loans 25 years ago, but since then, there hasn’t been any money for deferred maintenance and our schools are falling apart.”
The bonds would cost property owners an additional $28.70 per year on each $100,000 of assessed property, according to the district.
“Every day we hear people say, ‘I moved to Millbrae because of the schools,” Trustee Marjory Luxenberg said. “But if we don’t keep them up, people will stop saying that.”
Officials say that while the 2008 funding was spent on needed upgrades such as fixing roofs and making buildings safer, more is needed.
For example, Taylor Middle School’s cafeteria was designed for 350 students but currently serves 850. If Measure N passes, the structure, which is riddled with dry rot, would be replaced, Shea said.
Yet even with such funding in hand, the district would be far short of its construction and maintenance needs, which Blach Construction Company once estimated at $90 million.
Some observers wonder where the district stashed away $20.1 million reaped from the 2006 sale of Millbrae Elementary School.
Luxenberg said the district put the proceeds from the school toward much needed capital and operational uses, such as teacher salary increases. Only $4.2 million is unallocated, Shea said.
Wendy Richard, the district’s chief business official, said the district used the 2008 funds intelligently, issuing $7.6 million in construction bonds that qualified for federal subsidies, saving taxpayers $4.8 million.
Besides bolstering property values, the 2008 funds also enabled the district to put to work at least 130 local union workers this summer, a local hiring policy that would continue under Measure N, Shea said.
$30 million: Amount of bond measure
$28.70: Annual cost to property owners for each $100,000 of assessed property value
30 years: Maximum duration of Measure N taxes
$90 million: Needed to meet all the district’s capital needs
1922: Lomita Park (rebuilt in 1968)
1939: Taylor Middle (connected to Highlands School, 1953)
1952: Green Hills
1953: Glen Oaks
1956: Spring Valley