SMUHSD hires bond consultant

San Mateo — The San Mateo Union High School District has hired a political consultant to gauge the will of voters to support what would be the second capital-improvement bond measure in the district this decade.

District officials have not said they are pursuing a new bond, but signs point in that direction.

In January, the district’s board of trustees hired consultant Janis Hahn to create a mailer that showed the accomplishments of Measure D, the $137.5 million bond measure passed in 2000 after two previous bond measures failed.

Hahn’s glossy brochure began arriving in mailboxes throughout the district’s six cities this past week. It details a program of renovations, remodeling and new construction at six high schools now nearing completion. The district was able to attract further funding and do $234 million of work in total with the bond.

There is still another $272 million in work to be done, however, according to the district’s updated facilities master plan.

On April 20, the board approved an $18,750 contract with pollster Brad Senden of the Center for Community Opinion. He is the same man who polled voters prior to the previous bond measure and accurately predicted that the first two bond measures prior to Measure D, at $190 million each, were too rich for voters’ blood, district Superintendent Sam Johnson said.

“He will be sending out a survey about … the revised facilities master plan,” and voters’ willingness to finance that plan, Johnson said.

It remains to be seen what voters will think.

“My bias is I’d like to see the current projects completed first before we have another bond levied against us, as a taxpayer and a homeowner, and now paying college tuition,” said Wayne Easter, father of one San Mateo High School valedictorian and a current junior at the school. “These bonds and things have a tendency to linger on a long period of time.”

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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