Voters in the Woodside, Portola Valley and Las Lomitas school districts may be asked to approve new taxes for their public schools.
The Portola Valley district recently surveyed voters to see if they'd be willing to continue paying $458 per parcel because two previously approved parcel taxes totalling that amount both expire in 2014, according to Superintendent Carol Piraino. The poll results will be discussed at a special school board meeting Wednesday.
Earlier this month, the boards of the Woodside and Las Lomitas elementary school districts both agreed to study the feasibility of putting bond measures on the ballot.
Portola Valley is considering a tax measure for May but may wait until November, Piraino said. If Woodside proceeds with a bond measure, it might shoot for the November ballot, according to a board memo from Superintendent Beth Polito. Las Lomitas is awaiting survey results to determine whether this year or next would be better for its possible bond, said Chief Business Officer Carolyn Chow.
The Portola Valley School District's two parcel tax measures together generate more than $1 million a year for its two schools. Measure C is a 10-year, $290 parcel tax approved in 2004 and Measure D a four-year, $168 parcel tax passed in 2010. In an email, Piraino said the district needs the money to retain its "outstanding teachers, preserve manageable class sizes and provide advanced instructional programs."
Woodside, which has already spent a $12 million bond approved by voters in 2006 for new and improved facilities at the one-school district, hopes to get more funds for additional facility upgrades. The district, for example, wants to renovate and repair the school's Sellman Auditorium, add new rooms for preschool or transitional-kindergarten students, and create an "innovation lab" for multi-discipline projects. How much it would need for the projects is to be discussed at a school board meeting Feb. 12, according to Polito.
It was revealed last year that Portola Valley and Woodside each sustained a financial hit when Timothy Hanretty, who previously held top positions at both districts, misappropriated public funds. In October he was sentenced to two years in state prison for the crimes.
Although Hanretty has reimbursed Portola Valley more than $100,000 for district money he siphoned off to pay for home repairs, Woodside has not yet received the $3.5 million it has sought to offset an unauthorized $2.6 million loan Hanretty obtained.
Las Lomitas, which serves portions of Menlo Park and Atherton, would use bond money to expand its two campuses to accommodate more students and upgrade classrooms, according to Chow.
All three districts hired San Mateo-based Godbe Research for their studies. Portola Valley is contracted to pay the company up to $15,940, Woodside might pay $15,360 for a poll, and Las Lomitas could pay between $15,390 and $19,370, depending on the length of the survey and number of people polled.