VOTE YES on Measure S to protect the outstanding education students get at Ormondale Elementary and Corte Madera schools, while actually DECREASING the taxes you’ve been paying!

Our acclaimed public schools are a central part of the Portola Valley, south Woodside and Skylonda communities’ appeal. Great teachers plus rigorous math, science and reading curriculum have prepared generations of children to succeed in high school, college and beyond. Art, music, theater and more have rounded out our children’s educational experience, making school an enriching and fulfilling experience for all.

Unfortunately, woefully inadequate state funding in California and the impending expiration of our current parcel tax threaten to erode that level of excellence. If we don’t pass Measure S, the Portola Valley School District will have to cut academic programs, lay off teachers and increase class sizes to reduce its budget.

Measure S does NOT increase tax rates. In fact, it REDUCES your annual payment from $581 per year to $471. Measure S is an extension of an existing parcel tax that expires in June, but with a $110 per year reduction to reflect careful cost-cutting measures over the past three years.

Senior citizens and certain disabled people are eligible for exemptions. The measure will not create a burden for those on fixed incomes.

Whether you have school-age children or not, protecting the quality of local education is a wise investment. Good schools protect property values and keep our community strong.

Join parents, teachers and community leaders in VOTING YES on S.

Deadline to vote: May 4th, 2021

Ballots will arrive in the mail on April 5. Mail them back before May 4, 2021 to vote YES on S for Portola Valley and Woodside Students

Measure S will:

  • Maintain enhanced science, math, reading and writing instruction
  • Retain qualified and experienced teachers
  • Support music and arts programs
  • Maintain small class sizes
  • Sustain programs in engineering and technology
  • Maintain school library services

Taxpayer safeguards are REQUIRED:

  • ALL funds STAY LOCAL for PVSD schools and students
  • The State CANNOT take this funding away
  • NO funds are allowed for administrators’ salaries or pensions
  • Independent Citizens’ Oversight and mandatory audits ensure funds are spent properly

Corte Madera School has been recognized as a 2021 California Distinguished School

For 35 years the parcel tax has helped foster publicly recognizable excellence in our schools.
Read Press Release

Did You Know?

Vote Yes on S for Local Students

PVSD is a community-funded District, so it receives minimal state support and the District gets less than 25% of the property taxes you pay.

The large majority of the District’s costs are unavoidable or mandated by the state, including payroll taxes, health care, pensions and more. Those expenses are escalating faster than property taxes and state funding. 

The PVSD has cut $1.2 million in annual costs over the past three years to ensure fiscal responsibility

Parcel Tax History

Portola Valley residents have repeatedly renewed a parcel tax for 35 years to ensure adequate funding for their children’s schooling. The current parcel tax, Measure O, which passed in 2013, expires in June.

All Measure S Funds Stay Local

None of the money raised by Measure S can be shared with any other government entity

There is an oversight board made up of community members to ensure that all Measure S money is spent properly

Measure S on a May 4 special election ballot is asking for a LOWER AMOUNT than you already pay for the parcel tax

We depend on local revenue to supplement limited State funding. Measure S is necessary!

Parcel tax monies fund 7.5% of the District’s annual $15 million budget

Is PVSD Open for In-Person Learning?

YES! In contrast to the Sequoia Union High School District, the Portola Valley School District serves elementary and middle school students only, and has been open for live, in-person learning since early this fall.

Register to Vote

If you are not registered to vote, please register now so you can support Measure S before the May 4th, 2021 deadline to mail in ballots.
Register Now

(The deadline to register for non-provisional voting is April 19. After that, you can still register and vote on Measure S at County offices but your ballot will be provisional until approved)

2019–20 Revenues + Expenses

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entering ormondale

Seven Simple Ways To Help Pass Measure S

Commit to voting YES on S

Let us use your name publicly as a Measure S supporter.
Endorse Measure S

Put up a YARD SIGN.
Request a sign

Help educate other voters about the many reasons to support Measure S by VOLUNTEERING for phone banks.
Volunteer

Spread the Yes on S message around your SOCIAL MEDIA circles and tell friends offline about why you support the measure

Return your ballot early so we can focus our get-out-the-vote efforts where they are needed most

Most importantly, DON’T FORGET TO VOTE by May 4!
Register now

Endorsers

“Our current and future generations of children deserve the same high quality instruction and facilities that our schools have provided for many years, especially as we move out of the pandemic. I am voting YES on S.”

Chrisi Fleming
Retired Teacher’s Aide, PVSD
“Generations of children have received a fantastic education in our schools. I’m voting YES so our schools remain strong.”

Sue Crane
Former Mayor, Town of PV

& Ballot Measure Signer
“We have award-winning schools that are at the heart of our community, making it a wonderful place to live. I’m voting YES on S.”

Sangini Majmudar Bedner
PV PTO VP, CMS
“Outstanding local schools are a significant factor in maintaining strong property values. A YES vote is an investment in our schools and in our home values.”

Ron Ramies
Local Business Owner & Community Member
LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo
US House of Representatives, District 18

Senator Josh Becker
California State Senator, District 13

Assemblymember Marc Berman
State Assembly Member, District 24

Supervisor Don Horsley
San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, District 3

Superintendent Nancy Magee
San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools

Nancy Reyering
San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner

Richard Ginn
Trustee, Sequoia High School District Board

Maryann Derwin
Mayor, Town of Portola Valley

Jeff Aalfs
Council Member, Town of Portola Valley

John Richards
Council Member, Town of Portola Valley

Sarah Wernikoff
Council Member, Town of Portola Valley & Ballot Measure Signer

Ned Fluet
Council Member, Town of Woodside

Brooke Day
President, Portola Valley School District Board

Anne Fazioli-Khiari
Trustee, Portola Valley School District Board

Gary Hanning
Trustee, Portola Valley School District Board & Chair, PV Trails & Paths Committee

Jeff Klugman
Trustee, Portola Valley School District Board

Kimberley Morris Rosen
Trustee, Portola Valley School District Board

COMMUNITY LEADERS

Caitha Ambler
Middle School Head Woodside Priory School, Former Trustee, Portola Valley School District Board

Sherry Andrighetto
Ormondale Teacher, Ballot Measure Signer

Kit Antovich
PV PTO Vice-President, Ormondale

Aimee Armsby
Co-President, Portola Valley Schools Foundation

Mike Armsby
Board President, Alpine Hills Tennis & Swimming, Ballot Measure Signer

Sara Atkins
PV PTO President, Ormondale

Andy Barrows
Chief Financial Officer, Portola Valley Schools Foundation

Mieke Bloomfield Barrows
PV PTO Secretary

Karyn Bechtel
Former President, Portola Valley School District Board & Ballot Measure Signer

Michelle Bellomo
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Jennifer Bloom-Smith
Teacher, Ormondale School

Aimee Blum
PV PTO President, Corte Madera

Marcus Bonfiglio 
President, Classified School Employees Association, Chapter 659 (Portola Valley School District)

Kim Cashin
COVID-19 Pandemic Response Committee Member, Portola Valley School District

Steve Cassani
Portola Valley Schools Foundation, Former Co-President & Current Advisory Board Member

Catherine Castillo
Teacher, Ormondale School

Tricia Christensen
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Co-President

Brook Coffee
Portola Valley School District, Gardening Program Teacher

Hugh Cornish
Local Realtor

Kate Cox
Teacher, Corte Madera School

Sue Crane
Former Town Council Member and Mayor, Town of Portola Valley & Ballot Measure Signer

Bonnie Crater
Town of Portola Valley, Nature and Science Committee Member

Ronny Crawford
Professional Musician/Local Private Music Teacher

Ginger Creevy
Founder and Former Chapter Leader, Portola Valley Chapter of Dining for Women

Heather Cunningham
Portola Valley Schools Foundation, Annual Campaign Co-Chair

Loren Dakin
Local Realtor

Dayeh Family
Owners of Portola Cafe and Deli

John Davenport
President, Portola Valley Teachers Association; Teacher, Corte Madera School

Heriberto Diarte
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Sarah Dorahy
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Hilary Duwe
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Karyn Ellis
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Jenni Farrell
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Dan Flahavan
Teacher, Corte Madera School

Chrisi Fleming
Retired Teacher’s Aide, Portola Valley School District & Ballot Measure Signer

Elise Gabrielson
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Candace Gaudiani
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Co-President

Maria Geenen
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Lisa Giblin Freccia
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Dan Gilbert
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Elizabeth Gillbrand
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Co-President

Michelle Gilman Jasen
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Katherine Gilpin
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Teresa Godfrey
Former President, Portola Valley School District Board & Satisfied Parent of 2 PVSD Graduates

Juliet Green
Teacher, Corte Madera School

Serena Hanes
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Endowment Committee Co-Chair

Eric Hartwig
Former Superintendent, Portola Valley School District

Walter Hays
Chair, Sustainability Committee, Town of Portola Valley

Lisa Hill
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Lynette Hovland
Principal, Ormondale School

Mary Hufty, M.D.
Member, Christ Church Vestry & Founder, PVNU

Lori & Deke Hunter
Owners of Alpine Inn

Linda Kamran
Portola Valley Schools Foundation, Annual Campaign Co-Chair & “Yes on S” Campaign Chair

Bob Kavanaugh
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Co-President

Ginny Kavanaugh
Local Realtor, PVSF Advisory Board Member & Ballot Measure Signer

Laura Kavanaugh
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Wendy Keefe
Co-President, Portola Valley Schools Foundation

Tom Kelley
Former Trustee, Portola Valley School District Board

Kerr Family
Owners of Alice’s Restaurant

Terri Kerwin
Local Realtor, Ballot Measure Signer

Gregory King
Member, Valley Presbyterian Church Board of Elders & Former PVSF Board Member

JoAnn Loulan
Local Activist

Camilla Lynch
Former PV PTO President, Ormondale

Michael Maffia
Former Trustee, Portola Valley School District Board

Vanessa Maffia
Substitute Teacher, Portola Valley School District

Sangini Majmudar Bedner
PV PTO Vice President, Corte Madera

Mary Anna Matsumoto
Portola Valley Schools Foundation, Advisory Board Member

Cindy McAdam
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Budget Committee Liaison and Board Member

Tim McAdam
Former Trustee, Portola Valley School District Board

Wendy McAdam
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Co-President

Emily McDonald
Ormondale Teacher & English Language Specialist

Susan McLaughlin
Former Portola Valley PTO President & COVID-19 Pandemic Response Committee Member, Portola Valley School District

Dr. John Moore, Dr. Ellen Hoffman & Dr. Maxwell Moore
Portola Valley Chiropractic

Emma Morton-Bours, MD
Local Doctor, Caras Health

Josh Moser
PVSD Parcel Tax Oversight Committee Member & PVSF Board Member

Judith Murphy
Chair, Conservation Committee, Town of Portola Valley

Connie Ngo
Chief Business Official, Portola Valley School District

Keri Nicholas
Local Realtor

Susan Outland
Office Manager, Corte Madera School

Bill Petkopoulos
Owner, Parkside Grille

Eloise Pollock
Retired Teacher, Portola Valley School District

Ron Ramies
Local Business Owner, Ballot Measure Signer

Michelle Rapp
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member & Former PVSD Bond Co-Chair

Wayne Rickert
Ormondale School Teacher & PVSD Parcel Tax Oversight Committee Member

Lalanie Robins
Former PV PTO President, Ormondale

Bill Rogoway
Former Trustee, Portola Valley School District Board

Elizabeth Rubin
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Jeanne Rusch
Ormondale Science Teacher

Ashvin Sangoram
NICU Physician & COVID-19 Pandemic Response Committee Member, Portola Valley School District

Erin Sanders
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Endowment Committee Co-Chair

Todd Scheuer
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member & Alpine Little League President

Chris Selden
Member, Valley Presbyterian Church Board of Elders

Kristen Shima
Principal, Corte Madera School

Jon Silver
Former Mayor & Council Member, Town of Portola Valley

Rachel Sink
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Leslie Skanberg
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member and Endowment Committee Member

Amanda Smoot
Citizens Bond Oversight Committee President & PV PTO Treasurer

Johanna Street
Citizens Bond Oversight Committee Member

Jocelyn Swisher
Member PVSD Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, Former Trustee PVSD Board, Former Member PVSF Board

Sue Ten
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Steve Toben
Former Mayor & Council Member, Town of Portola Valley

Stefanie Trenchard
Former PV PTO President, Corte Madera

Chrissy Untrecht
Teacher, Corte Madera School & Signatory

William Urban
PVSD Parcel Tax Oversight Committee Member, Ballot Measure Signer

Karen Urbanek
Former PV PTO Secretary

Anne Van der Staay
Member, Christ Church Vestry

Sarah Vincenzo
Ormondale Teacher & Former Portola Valley School Foundation Board Member

Randy Von Feldt
Former Portola Valley Schools Foundation Co-President

Jeff Wiley
Portola Valley Schools Foundation Board Member

Patricia Williams
Former Mayor of Portola Valley & Elementary School Teacher

Linda Wong
Former Trustee PVSD Board, Former Member PVSD Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, Former PV PTO Treasurer

Laure Woods
Local Philanthropist, LaureL Foundation & LaureL STEM Fund

Ruth Ann Wruckle
Local Private Music Teacher

Kim Zamboldi
Former Portola Valley PTO President

Rich Zamboldi
Portola Valley School Foundation Budget Committee Liaison and Board Member

Roberta Zarea
Superintendent, Portola Valley School District

ORGANIZATIONS
“The League of Women Voters of South San Mateo County supports the passage of Measure S… Our position emphasizes
“maintenance or improvement of education quality and efficiency; and
establishment of consistent, adequate and equitable funding’…Measure S is an extension of an existing parcel tax and the reduction is due to careful cost-cutting measures over the past three years.” Full Letter (PDF)
“It’s hard to complain about being overtaxed by the district when voters are being asked to approve a decrease from the current rate, and the well-respected local schools are a big factor in keeping the town’s property values high. The Almanac recommends a yes vote on Measure S.”
“The purpose of the Portola Valley Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) is to promote and support the education and welfare of the students in the Portola Valley School District. We support Measure S to keep our schools strong for our students and maintain the wonderful educational opportunities and small class sizes our district is able to provide.”
“For decades, our PV schools have excelled with the help of funding from the parcel tax and the PV Schools Foundation. It’s more important than ever to maintain that support as we transition out of the pandemic and look toward the future.  Vote Yes on Measure S!”
LOCAL BUSINESSES
Rossotti's Alpine Inn
“Rossotti’s Alpine Inn supports Portola Valley schools – they are the cornerstone of our thriving community.”

Lori and Deke Hunter
Owners of Rossotti’s Alpine Inn
The Dayeh Family
Owners of Portola Cafe and Deli
Owners of Konditorei
The Kerr Family
Owners of Alice’s Restaurant
“Our schools are an asset and it’s important that we continue to support our children and teachers. Our quality education system adds to our community’s strength. I will proudly vote yes on Measure S.” 

Terri Kerwin
Kerwin & Associates
“Proudly Supporting Yes on S Friends of Portola Valley Schools”

Keri Nicholas
Parc Agency
Owners of Portola Valley Chiropractic
COMMUNITY MEMBERS

Sally Aalfs
Margaret Abraham
Alana Achterkirchen
Linda Alderman
Daniel Alegria, M.D.
Charles Atkins
John Badger
Ilja Bedner
Diana Bergeson
Recha & Rob Bergstrom
Peter Blum
Thomas & Lauren Bochnowski
Chris Bradshaw & Steve Levin
Kerry Bratton
Laura & Bruce Brege
Brandy Bridges & Mike McLaughlin
Bryne Dickerson Family
Chris Buja
Berfu Butler
Maria Carina Singh
Katharine Carroll
John Cashin
Gavin Christensen
Crystal & John Ciancutti
Ryan Coffee
Laura Cornish
Lynn Cornish
Don Creevy, M.D.
Laura Dahl
Jane Daniels
Lily & William Darling
Laura & Jamie Davidson
Neil Day
Aurelie & Josselin de la Broise
Margaret De Stabler
Jennifer Der Yuen & Tim Katz
Caroline Diarte-Edwards
Alexander Doherty
Jason & Sarah Donahue
Colin Duwe
John Ellis
Leeza & Sinan Eren
Benjamin Erickson
Kim & David Evans
Doug Farber
Gianna Fazioli
Kate & John Fenwick
Deb & Alex Fitz
Katy Fluet
Marcela & Michael Flynn
Kevin Ford
Olivia Franco
Toby Freccia
Anne & Charlie French
Randy Gabrielson
Tore Gillbrand
Wanda Ginner
Kenneth Goodson
Rachel & Otto Guedelhoefer
Jeremiah Hanes
Barbara Hanning
Julie & Andy Harding
Josh Harmssen
Hadley & Noel Hartzell
Alexis & Carl Heiselman
Jill Helms
Polly Hey Panos
Katerina Hur
Meghan Imrie & Greg Masters
James Inenaga
Elisa Jagerson
Rich Jasen
Imad Scott Kamran
Dale Kane & Elinor Mertz
Melissa Karlsten
Johonna & Aaron Katz
Hilary Keller
Sharon Kelley
Ruhi Khan
Walid Khiari
Renae & Andy Killen
Matt King
Kirsten Kingdon
Marie & Matt Klemchuk
Simon Klemperer
Josh Knowles
Diana Koin
Lesleen Kukucha
Wendy Lair
Kristine & Joe Lange
Julie & Adam Lautner
Judy & Bill Leckonby
Jane Leibowitz
Jessica Leino
Shani & Michael Lewis
Rebecca Li & David Jakopin
Peter Lipman
Linda Lohse
Megan & Kevin Loveland
Claire Magat Selden
Laura Mather & Mike Eynon
Maria Matsumoto & Uwe Horchner
Mike McAdam
Shannon Mees
Sinda Mein
Korinn Meyers
Tia & Frazier Miller
Katrina Montinola
Jo & Josh Moore
Jessica Moseley
Allison Moser
Lori & Matthew Muffly
Jo Mutch
Alpana Naresh
Shivani Nautiyal
Laura & Mike Nicolls
Don Niederhaus
Elisabeth Nielsen
Roger & Bonny Novesky
Amy O’Karma
Ginger & Dan Oros
Natalie Ortega
Francis Paine
Deborah Perkins
Dr. Brendan Pierce & Dr. Lindsey Pierce
Naomi & Joey Pritikin
Leigh Pyle
Susan & Diogo Rau
John Reese
Darci & Todd Reimund
Debbi Romani
Chad Rosen
Stacey Rountree
Marta Sanchez & Shankar Jayaratnam
Lee Scheuer
Marjel Scheuer
Melora Simon
Gloria Sin
Jim Skanberg
David Smernoff
Derek Smith
Janet & Stanley Smith
Rob Smoot
Mike Sneper
Carol & Mark Sontag
Anngi & Roland Strick
Ramesh Subramonian
Lorilee Sugden
Sean Sullivan & Reed Easley
Shreevani Suvarna & David Fox
Arun Swaminathan & Archna Anand
Colleen Tate
Patricia Thorson
Matt Van der Staay
Ian Van Hoven
Andrew Vingiello
Krystle Wang
Lesley Wiley
Ray Williams
Katie & Ted Wilson
Joan Wollenberger
Helen Wolter
Erica & Brian Woo
Penelope Wood & Stefan Albert
Carolyn & Tim Worthington
Chester Wrucke
Nancy Young
Alaleh Zadmehr
Brittany Zilka

Endorse Measure S

It’s essential that your neighbors and friends see the groundswell of support for our local schools. Your name will be posted in our endorsements so others can see that you understand the importance of education for our children.

FAQs

What and Why

Measure S is a local parcel tax renewal on a May 4, 2021 special election ballot. It will continue current Measure O funding at a reduced rate of $471 per parcel for the next eight years. Measure S will support students in grades TK-8 by paying for enhanced science, math, reading and writing instruction; retaining qualified and experienced teachers, supporting music and arts programs, maintaining small class sizes, sustaining programs in engineering and technology and preserving school library services. Measure S requires 66.7% support to pass. All Portola Valley School District residents registered by April 19, 2021 can vote.

Measure O was a parcel tax of $581 per parcel, per year passed in 2013 to support the Portola Valley School District in maintaining the high-quality educational programs it offers from Transitional Kindergarten through 8th grade. For eight years, Measure O has helped fund math, reading and writing as well as hands-on science instruction among other important educational programs. This added funding has helped the District attract and retain qualified and experienced teachers and has supported art, music and other classes that make our schools enticing and stimulating places for the children of our District. Measure O, approved for eight years, will expire in June, after the 2020-21 school year ends. Measure O cannot be extended without a new vote of the District’s voters. That’s why Measure S is on a special election ballot – to extend the old Measure O funding for another eight years, but reducing the cost to you, the taxpayer, by $110 annually. Without the renewal of our parcel tax, $1 million in existing local school funding will go away, requiring the district to make drastic cuts.

Measure P on the March 2020 ballot came up 77 votes short of the 66.7% majority needed to pass. So the District took a hard look at its expenditures, cut spending, and is back with this proposal to actually REDUCE your taxes by $110 annually.

After Measure P failed last year by a slim margin, the Portola Valley School District conducted a review of the District’s budget and its needs going forward. Based on those findings, the Board of Trustees made $1.2 million in cuts, including the elimination of several staff positions. District administrators and Board members also met with hundreds of parents and community members to understand their priorities for our schools and what residents believe to be a reasonable parcel tax rate. After reviewing the feedback, the board decided the minimum needed to preserve the quality of education the community desires is $471 per parcel with no cost of living escalator

The Portola Valley School District values the outstanding education it has provided to its elementary and middle school students for generations. The District’s schools consistently rank among the best in the State. Exceptional teachers, small class sizes, challenging instructional programs, dedicated parent volunteers plus outstanding science, art and music curricula have prepared generations of local children to succeed in high school, college and careers. Our goal is to continue that proud tradition. Unfortunately, education funding from the State is inadequate, and the coming expiration of our existing parcel tax in June will leave the District with a $1 million budget shortfall. Measure O, approved for eight years in 2013, cannot be extended without a new vote of the District’s voters. Without the renewal of this parcel tax, $1 million in existing local school funding will disappear from the District’s budget, leading to drastic cuts that will reduce the quality of our children’s education.

Measure O, passed in 2013 to supplement local education funding, expires after the 2020-21 school year that ends this coming June. If we do not renew that current parcel tax at the reduced rate of $471 per parcel, $1 million in existing local school funding will disappear from the Portola Valley School District’s budgets, causing drastic cuts to academic programs, increased class sizes and a reduction in programs like art and music that enhance our children’s learning. Renewing Measure O (this time named Measure S) at a reduced rate of $471 per parcel for eight years will not address all our funding needs, but it will help retain exceptional teachers and protect core programs.

Over the past three years, the District has cut $1.2 million from its budget. Our governing board has been careful to keep cuts away from the classroom, instead reducing administrative positions and operational costs. The District also has been prudent about filling positions after staff retirements. But even with these cuts, the loss of the current parcel tax funding will mean a $1 million annual budget shortfall in the coming years if Measure S does not pass. 

Who Will Pay for Measure S?

Senior citizen homeowners aged 65 or older and certain disabled people are eligible for an exemption through an application process. Those who are exempt from Measure O will still be exempt under Measure S. We do not want this measure to become a burden for those living on a fixed income. To apply, contact Chief Business Officer Connie Ngo at (650) 851-1777 x2560 or email [email protected]

Yes, commercial, industrial and residential property owners will be subject to the same rate per parcel.

Good schools are the foundation of any healthy, thriving community. Good schools protect property values and keep neighborhoods strong, particularly here in Portola Valley.

Enrollment

While enrollment in the Portola Valley School District – as well as at the state level – has declined in recent years, the fixed costs required to keep the District’s classrooms running smoothly have not. In the coming years houses will turn over and new families will move into town, new ADU units will be built to meet state-mandated affordable housing, and proposed developments may be approved. The District has to be prepared to serve any number of students who enroll.

Public school enrollment across the nation has declined during the pandemic. In California, alone, 155,000 students left K-12 public schools since the lockdowns began in March of 2020 – about five times more than in recent years. The Portola Valley School District is no exception in that it has seen some students leave too, even though it was one of the first in San Mateo County to reopen and well ahead of the curve across the state of California. The District believes that enrollment will return to normal once the pandemic subsides. 

Two years ago while planning for facilities, the District hired a demographer who projected 500 to 530 students in the coming years. The projection took into account average turnover of homes, the likelihood of families purchasing homes on the market, new accessory dwelling units to be built in an effort to satisfy state-mandated affordable housing requirements, and average attrition to private schools as students near the high school grades. As with any demographic projections, any of the factors behind these assumptions can change, including economic circumstances, changes in the real estate market and more.

While the size of any given grade fluctuates from year to year, most of the costs associated with running an excellent school district remain the same. For example, the District cannot drop a teacher because a grade is slightly smaller from one year to the next. Our teachers are highly trained, very good at what they do, and beloved by their students. We don’t want to lose any to other districts. If necessary, we reassign teachers to different grades or positions as credentialing allows until they are needed in their regular grades again. In addition, pension costs have risen significantly, as have healthcare costs. These are mandated costs that are outside the District’s control.

What Will it Cost?

Measure S will cost $39.25 a month or $471 a year per parcel for eight years to provide a stable, local source of funding for Portola Valley schools. That is $110 less than the $581 per parcel that residents of the District have paid during the past eight years – a reduction made possible by reduced spending across the District. Senior citizen homeowners of age 65 or older are eligible for an exemption.

How our Schools are Funded

Fewer than 25% of the property taxes you pay each year stay in Portola Valley to support our local elementary and middle schools. The remaining 75% goes to other county priorities including sheriff’s services, fire departments, hospitals and health programs, the Sequoia Union High School District and community colleges as well as special districts such as flood control. In 1978, voters in California passed Proposition 13, which capped property taxes to benefit long-term homeowners. Homeowners only pay taxes on the amount their house was worth in 1976, or on the date of purchase with a maximum appreciation of 2% per year. This significantly reduces the tax base for local schools. At the same time, the cost of providing a quality education continues to rise. As one example, the amount districts pay into mandatory pensions statewide doubled between 2015-2019 and will continue to go up in the coming years.

The District gets less than 25% of the property taxes collected from local property owners. The rest of your property tax dollars go to sheriff, hospitals, high schools, community colleges and other government services. So while the total value of property taxes has risen, the District sees very little of that money. 

Per pupil spending on education in California ranks well below the national average. In 2019, California ranked 41st in the nation for per-pupil spending when adjusted for cost of living and the picture has not changed significantly since then. The state of New York, by contrast, spends almost twice as much. Even community funded districts like ours do not receive the support needed to provide an exceptional, well-rounded education for our children. The current State funding formula adopted in 2013 limits new state funding to our neighborhood schools while mandated costs such as payroll taxes, health care and pensions rise disproportionately.

For 50 years, our District has been fortunate to receive additional financial support from parents, neighbors and local businesses through our local education foundation. The Portola Valley Schools Foundation contributes 6% of the District’s budget – about $900,000 per year. Even with that support, a significant funding gap of $1 million will remain if Measure S does not pass because our current Measure O parcel tax will sunset in June. That gap is too large for the Foundation to fill. The parcel tax and contributions from the Foundation together help make up for inadequate State funding by providing the extra money needed to maintain low class size, challenging instructional programs and enrichment offerings for our schools.

Government budgets are limited. The way California public schools are funded currently is known as the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). That allocates more funding to school districts that have high concentrations of students who are English language learners, low income and/or foster youth. Our current total revenues are 6% State, 1% Federal, and 93% locally funded by our Portola Valley community (including 6% from the PVSD Foundation and 8% from the Measure O parcel tax). This, coupled with rising operating costs, and the expiration of our existing Measure O, simply does not provide the level of funding for instructional programs that our students, families, and community have come to expect and deserve.

The State of California requires that all school districts carry a reserve on their books. Several prominent school-focused organizations recommend that surplus be at least 17% for big districts and even larger for smaller ones like Portola Valley. With that guidance in mind, the Portola Valley School District currently has approximately 21% in surplus, which contributed to its AA+ bond rating, saving taxpayers $27 million in bond indebtedness over the course of the Measure Z bonds.

Lottery funds do help supplement classroom instruction. However, the funding our school district receives from the Lottery each year provides less than 1% of our annual General Fund budget. Lottery contributions alone are simply not enough to fund the extensive instructional programs that our schools need to set our children up for success in high school, college and beyond.

Accountability

An independent Citizens’ Oversight committee and audits will ensure Measure S funds are spent properly. By law, all funds from Measure S must stay local, dedicated to PVSD schools only. The State cannot take Measure S funding away. Measure S funding is only for school instructional and educational needs. No Measure S funds can be used for administrator salaries or employee pensions.

Impact on Schools

The Portola Valley School District has had a parcel tax measure in place to support its excellent programs for the past 35 years. If this measure is not renewed, the District will have to make significant reductions. The District has already made $1.2 million in cuts over the past three years and will need to slash another $1 million over the next few years if Measure S does not get the 66% YES votes needed to pass.

While many other school districts cut electives, special programs and key instructional services years ago, the Portola Valley School District maintained programs such as art, music, foreign language and counseling because it had the additional funding from 2013’s Measure O parcel tax. Without that additional source of money, the District will need to increase class sizes, risk losing its best teachers and reduce or eliminate high-value instructional programs such as those listed above in addition to reading intervention, library services, math support, technology in the classroom, enhanced science and other programs that contribute to our children’s well-rounded education.

The Portola Valley School District strives for excellence in every educational setting. Exceptional teachers, challenging instructional programs, dedicated parent volunteers as well outstanding science, art and music programs are essential to student achievement and have prepared generations of local children to succeed in high school, college and careers. Renewing our parcel tax will allow the District to continue offering these programs, thereby maintaining the outstanding quality of education our students have received for generations.

Ormondale currently ranks second in San Mateo County for reading and math scores and ranks in the top 1% of all schools in California for 2017/18 testing, according to Public School Review. Its student-to-teacher ratio is 19:1 compared to 23:1 statewide. Corte Madera ranks in the top 5% of all 9,602 schools in the state of California for combined math and reading proficiency for the 2017/18 school year, according to the Review, and consistently scores higher than neighboring districts. In fact, the State Superintendent of Schools recently recognized Corte Madera as a California Distinguished School for 2021, based on test scores, climate, progress, improvement and accountability.

  • Maintain enhanced science, math, reading and writing instruction 
  • Retain qualified and experienced teachers 
  • Support music and arts programs 
  • Maintain small class sizes 
  • Sustain programs in engineering and technology
  • Maintain school library services

By law, ALL Measure funds MUST stay local, dedicated to Portola Valley School District TK-8 schools.

Mechanics of the Ballot

“To maintain excellent local schools, shall Portola Valley School District protect enhanced science, math, reading/writing instruction, retain qualified/experienced teachers, support music and arts programs, maintain small class sizes and school library services by renewing and reducing the current annual per parcel tax to $471, raising approximately $997,000 annually, for 8 years, with senior exemptions, annual audits, independent citizen oversight, no money for administrator salaries, no funds for Sacramento, and all funds supporting Portola Valley School District students?”

All registered voters living within the jurisdiction of the Portola Valley School District registered by April 19th will be eligible to participate in the May 4 Election.

Measure S is approved if it receives at least two-thirds or 66.67% of the votes in the May 4 special election.

The locally elected Board of Education of Portola Valley School District is the legal entity that called for the Measure S election. Ultimately, Portola Valley School District REGISTERED VOTERS will have the final say on whether or not to authorize the tax.

A parcel tax is a flat assessment on each parcel of land. Unlike school bond measures, which can only be used to fund school facility improvements, parcel tax revenues can be used to fund programs and services. School districts use parcel tax revenues to preserve, restore or enhance instructional programs. A parcel tax measure requires approval by two-thirds (66.7%) of registered voters who vote on the measure. A Proposition 39 school bond only required 55% plus one to pass. No revenue generated by a local parcel tax can be taken away by the State. All parcel tax revenue stays local to benefit local Portola Valley schools and students.

COVID Questions

The Portola Valley School District was among the first in San Mateo County to reopen classrooms when most others remained closed. All elementary school students who choose to attend in person have been back in the classroom nearly full time for months. Middle school grades are on campus part time and phasing back in to full-time, face-to-face learning. For those who cannot risk exposure to the coronavirus, the District offers distance learning that combines some live-streaming instruction with their regular teachers with some computerized programming. The effort to reopen Portola Valley schools to live and in-person learning has cost the District an additional $1 million in staffing and other accommodations to comply with smaller classroom cohorts as well as increased need for technology, sanitation and other costs. The district is committed to in-person learning and optimistically anticipates a full-time reopening in fall of 2021.

The Portola Valley School District was among the first in San Mateo County to reopen classrooms when most others remained closed. All elementary school students who choose to attend in person have been back in the classroom nearly full time for months. Middle school grades are on campus part time and phasing back in to full-time, face-to-face learning. For those who cannot risk exposure to the coronavirus, the District offers distance learning that combines some live-streaming instruction with their regular teachers with some computerized programming. The effort to reopen Portola Valley schools to live and in-person learning has cost the District an additional $1 million in staffing and other accommodations to comply with smaller classroom cohorts as well as increased need for technology, sanitation and other costs. The district is committed to in-person learning and optimistically anticipates a full-time reopening in fall of 2021. The Sequoia Union High School District, by contrast, will not open to live, in-person teaching until April.

General Questions

Visit PVSD.net OR contact: Roberta Zarea, Superintendent at (650) 851-1777 or [email protected].

Ad paid for by Friends of Portola Valley Schools Yes on S 2021. Committee major funding from Portola Valley Schools Foundation. FPPC# 1436363