Sufficient voter support likely exists for the San Mateo Union High School District to pass a facilities bond, according to a recent poll gauging public support for the tax under examination by officials.
The district Board of Trustees will discuss during a meeting Thursday, June 20, details of the report showing results of the poll which surveyed likely voters in a 2020 election.
While it appears about 60% of voters would favor such a proposal — 5% more than the threshold needed for the measure to pass — additional work is required to further support for the measure, according to the report.
Board President Greg Land said he was heartened by the results shown in the poll based on interviews earlier this month with 648 expected voters.
“The poll seemed pretty positive in a way that suggested [the bond] might be successful,” said Land.
Only the poll results are slated to be discussed at the upcoming meeting and no decision will be made regarding whether to float the tax.
While the initial indications from voters are supportive, more determinations are on the horizons for officials — primarily which election would be preferable to pursue the measure and how large of a bond may be sought.
Officials have the option of potentially putting the bond on the spring or fall ballot next year and choosing between a $200 million or $400 million bond, both of which appeared to gather the requisite support to pass, according to the poll.
Land said the measure could be needed to improve classrooms and learning spaces across the district, update campus facilities and address safety issues such as some asbestos removal needed at Hillsdale High School.
“We just need to make sure that we are staying on top of things and I think with this bond we will be able to do that,” he said.
While examining specific details of the measure, polling suggests officials will need to reach out to potential voters and persuade those who are currently undecided on their support for the initiative.
According to the results, 30% of those polled are identified as swing voters who need additional convincing to definitely support the measure. The most challenging hurdles for officials in building consensus for the bond could be overcoming perceptions that the district does not need to make additional investment in its infrastructure, or that the district has other ways to address its facility needs.
Recognizing those perceptions, Land said he feels the district should consider framing the measure as a means of assuring students are offered the highest quality facilities and best education possible.
“I want the best we can provide for our students and if we can do that in a reasonable way, we should,” he said.
For his part though, Land suggested he believed the scope of the potential bond should be limited specifically to improving learning facilities, and not to raise revenue for potential teacher housing development.
Officials are in the process of discussing selling the former Crestmoor High School campus in San Bruno to finance construction of teacher housing, which could be constructed on the Mills High School campus.
While no decision on the matter has been made, Land said he felt the potential revenue raised by the campus sale should be sufficient for teacher housing and that he did not support spending bond or general fund money for such an endeavor.
Land noted though his perspective is held independently from the rest of the board and he looks forward to discussing the measure at the upcoming meeting. He also recognized there are plenty more discussions among officials and with the community needed before the district makes a final decision on the bond.
“We have some compelling work to do,” he said.
The San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees meets 7 p.m. Thursday, June 20, in the district office, 650 N. Delaware Street, San Mateo.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105
Note to readers: this article has been amended to correct the meeting location.