Editorial: Yes on community college measures G, H | Town Square | Palo Alto Online |

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Editorial: Yes on community college measures G, H

Original post made on Feb 21, 2020

A vibrant community college system is an essential safety net and path to opportunity for those whose options are limited, and voters should ensure it continues to thrive.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 21, 2020, 7:40 AM

Comments (16)

8 people like this
Posted by Tecsi
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Feb 21, 2020 at 11:18 am

I agree that community colleges can be an incredibly important part of our higher ed system.

But, I have now just encountered a third person who said there is a multi-year wait list for practical, and needed, nursing and PA degrees. It appears that our local community colleges are not providing essential classes and degree paths.

Can someone explain to me why this is? I am baffled.


22 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2020 at 2:52 pm

I'm disappointed that the editorial would endorse measure G without a real rationale for the bond spending. It is a huge bond issue this time, with no detailed rationale. In the past, bond issues that I've voted for had a specific purpose and a specific prioritized spending list based on costs estimates. The rationale for G is that we all like FHDA, don't we? Well, sure, I like FHDA, and, I'm going to do FHDA a favor by voting NO on G. An ill-conceived bond issue will result in major pointless construction and disruption for students for years to come, with no reasonable benefit specified. I'm going to help the students by voting to not disrupt their studies with needless construction.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 21, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Sounds like Mr. Berman has interjected into this bond issue problem since he has been a champion of RV parking at FHCC, as well as supporting international students using FHCC as the jumping off place for higher education well as the support for visa applications. The size of this bond issue and lack of definition suggests that a portion could be stiffed off to the general fund for retirement purposes. It is a whole case of mismanagement and lack of definition of purpose.
I put my vote in today. I am done.


25 people like this
Posted by Ruth Grant
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 21, 2020 at 3:31 pm

I am so glad that we are blanketed by Proposition 13 on our residential property.

The newer & more recent homeowners should bear the tax burden of Proposition G as it is their children who are now of or approaching college age.

We've already fulfilled our parental obligations & have no fiscal responsibility towards or interest in supporting the subsequent generations JC educations. That is their parent's duty.

Considering how much people make these days due to inflation, let the younger parents carry the weight.

We are voting NO on G.


12 people like this
Posted by It's Not Our Problem
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 21, 2020 at 4:28 pm

I agree Ruth. Let the Millenials pay for Proposition G via rent increases as their landlords will gladly play tax collector.

We have also fulfilled our child rearing, financial & educational obligations to our children and don't owe the newer ones one red cent. let their parents handle the burden. If they can afford to buy a $5+M house in Palo Alto, then Prop G should be a drop in the bucket for them.

As Bob Dylan once wrote/sang, "Don't you understand, it's not my problem."


14 people like this
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Los Altos
on Feb 21, 2020 at 8:49 pm

Generally, I whole heartedly support public education. Given the frightening and increasingly despicable state of our nation’s current administration affordable education is more important than ever. And, yes, absolutely yes, FHDA faces real challenging issues so PROPER SUPPORT is paramount.

But Measures G and H are too much, too soon with too little. Measure G is the largest school bond in county history! By too little I mean enrollment has declined significantly and steadily over the past several years and FHDA has too little resources (capacity and capability) to properly manage these huge sums. FHDA is taking an “If we build it they will come” approach. They seem to think that plowing more money into aging facilities or building new ones serves local education best. Oh, I think we all recognize they definitely need money. But let’s be fully informed about exactly what is included (or not) and exactly how this vast sum will be spent, rather than accept sweeping and vague allocations.

Let’s look at recent history, just the facts:

• We are still paying off bonds from prior years.

• Enrollment has declined significantly over the past several years.

• FHDA retracted a bid for similar bond(s) 18 months ago because of a labor action with faculty then. Faculty are rightfully unhappy with administration who is good at giving themselves raises while all others’ compensation lags. Please be clear, this important rift has just gone underground until the vote 3/3/2020; bond or no bond it will resurface. There is a possible vote of no confidence for a senior FH administrator lurking in the wings.

• FHDA's four recent builds have significant problems. The two most recent buildings are Sunnyvale Campus (SC) and New District Office (NDO.) The SC is grossly underutilized and has ongoing operational issues for its 3.5 year existence. The NDO was supposed to be built in 2 years and is now almost 2 years behind schedule. (It also includes a shower in the Chancellor’s office, which seems exceptionally elitist and exclusive for an entity that preaches equity and inclusion.)

• The Executive Director of Facilities position has been vacant for approx. 9 months.

• The new Vice Chancellor of Business Services is untested and unproven. Turning over responsibility for almost $1 billion to someone with little experience in facilities and operations borders on reckless.

• FHDA went through a round (another round! there have been a couple in the past 10+years) of both layoffs and early retirement last year. The facilities team is reeling, their numbers (and morale) are at an all-time low, unsustainably low.

Times are a changing and so it is time to rethink throwing big money at FHDA and fully identify its goals, capabilities and resources with the transparency, equity and inclusion they, supposedly, embrace and teach. Let’s step back from these measures and make sure we get it right. We can always vote yes in a subsequent election when there is a fully detailed, more sustainable and mutually agreeable solution before us and FHDA has properly demonstrated it is fully capable and worthy.

Until then let’s hit pause and not throw money (LOTS of money) at this.
Vote No on G&H.


12 people like this
Posted by Support Community Colleges too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2020 at 10:46 pm

Every year, Foothill College sends more students to UCLA than Paly sends to all the UC's combined, it's on the order of 500 transfer students to UCLA and Berkeley every year. (And I don't think that includes DeAnza.) These are local students who are better prepared and will graduate from UCLA with less debt and probably better first year courses.

UCLA takes upwards of 85% of Foothill transfers from the honors program that apply there; UCLA's general acceptance rate is closer to Stanford's single digit acceptance rates. Foothill and DeAnza offer guaranteed transfer to UC's like Davis.

Every year, some significant number of students that went off to expensive colleges from our local high schools come back because it didn't work out, and Foothill and DeAnza make it possible for them to regroup and succeed. Every summer, Foothill and DeAnza are packed with students from CSU's and UC's who couldn't get their coursework in at the UC's and can only graduate after 4 years because the local community colleges offer aligned, transferable courses that they can use.

The local CC's offer advanced courses like Math 1A-D and Physics 4A &B which not all the UC's even offer, which make it much easier for our local students to get the courses they need to succeed after transferring.

The Middle College program is oversubscribed every year. It will double in size next year because LAH is going to fund the instructors needed on their end. It could increase by another yet again if there were more space, which these measures will provide.

Naysayers above know so little about our community colleges (don't even get me started on why the SV campus isn't the Palo Alto Campus, it was not the fault of the people at Foothill), and seem to be trying anything that will stick. The fact is that these institutions are lifesavers for so many of our youth, and their aging buildings need work. Everything that is being requested is very needed. They need our support.

Thank you to the Weekly editorial board for supporting these needed funds. Please vote YES on G and H.


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2020 at 9:10 am

Posted by Support Community Colleges too, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Every year, Foothill College sends more students to UCLA than Paly sends to all the UC's combined, it's on the order of 500 transfer students to UCLA and Berkeley every year.

Yet again, "motherhood, apple pie, housing, and education".

Yes, we ALL support community colleges. But, many of us think that measure G is an expensive, misbegotten mess.

I'm *supporting* FHDA by voting NO on G.

As for H -- convince me that the money will be spent on part-time faculty, hourly staff, student-staff, neglected maintenance, and short-life equipment, and not top administators and long-time faculty, who are mostly compensated very generously. There are 100 FHDA employees making over $158,895.

Web Link

IMHO, measure H funds should be used for the -other- 4255 employees who make less than $158,895, most of whom are part-time workers making a few dollars. And, for maintenance. It bugs me to use bond money for deferred maintenance-- maintenance should be part of the regular budget. As should computer purchases and other stuff with a short life.



4 people like this
Posted by Support Community Collegees too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2020 at 12:21 pm

>>"Every year, Foothill College sends more students to UCLA than Paly sends to all the UC's combined, it's on the order of 500 transfer students to UCLA and Berkeley every year.
Yet again, "motherhood, apple pie, housing, and education"."

Yes, AND actual facts about what a great value the community colleges are. The fact is that the facilities are pretty old at both DeAnza and Foothill and they need funds to make long overdue overhauls, not even just upgrades. These institutions provide great value for what we spend, but they need the funds for necessary improvements.

>>"I'm *supporting* FHDA by voting NO on G."
Oh, don't be absurd. You clearly DON'T support them, and have no direct contact with the community colleges or all the good they do for education in our area. They are the Swiss Army knives of education, having to be there to solve problems for a diverse array of sectors in our economy and society, and they deserve the funding to upgrade their facilities.

Vote YES on G and H.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 22, 2020 at 12:36 pm

Many follow ups in the papers today concerning many school systems in the state. One stated the amount that the state budget provides to the districts per student. The state is responsible for providing the initial funding with follow-up from the district tax base and bond funds - if awarded. So that is a red flag that the state is not funding any school system in the state with sufficient funds. And since it is based on the number of students then the administrative staff is a subsidized amount - and they mentioned many functions that are questionable for school that has financial problems to begin with.

From where I am sitting the question to Tony Thurmond and Gavin Newsome is why is the budgeted amount per student too low? Where is the money going for the 6th biggest economy in the world? We need to understand what percentage of the total budget is allocated to the educational system vs percentages to other "audacious" programs which no one voted on. Time to reign in the "audacious" programs no one voted on and increase the budget for the educational system base amount per student.


10 people like this
Posted by Richard Michael 909-378-5401
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Proposition 39 was an offer by the people. Follow the rules and you can win with 55% of voter support instead of 2/3rds.

The list of specific projects to be funded was "To ensure that before they vote, voters will be given a list of specific projects their bond money will be used for." Notice that's BEFORE they vote.

If the district wants flexibility, it can go for the 2/3rds vote bond (Proposition 46). The district wants to cheat by taking the benefit without having the requirement. Cheaters, what a great role for so-called educators.

When the rules are ignored and a district can change anything, oversight is a joke. Without a specific list, it's just a blank check where anything will be allowed by a fake oversight committee.

The district is also cheating on the ballot.

Like every other school and college district in the state, the district is cheating on the ballot to win an election.

The districts are electioneering on the ballot using public moneys (Penal Code 424(a)(2)) with a ballot statement that is a not-so-thinly disguised sales pitch.

Elections Code 13119 (AB-195, effective Jan 2018) requires a statement that is in a very specific form (to prevent front-loading the statement with goodies and prohibit a self-serving title), not be an argument or reason for passage, impartial, and not likely to cause prejudice in its favor.

The districts are cheating to win an election. What a poor example to the students. Do you endorse cheaters?

This statement was written to test in the voter survey before the measure was ever written. No matter what the measure finally said, the statement did not change. This is the statement that the surveyed voters liked. All of the 120 school bond measures on the March 2020 ballot read eerily alike. It's like the same person wrote them. In fact, there are a handful of C.A.S.H. (Coalition for Adequate School Housing) vendors that write and sell all the $80 billion or so local bond measures around the state every two years. So, yes, they are written by the same people, because they've discovered how to spin paper and ink into gold. They can literally print money. About 95% of the measures pass. This is their formula.

"FOOTHILL-DE ANZA COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT AFFORDABLE CAREER, COLLEGE TRANSFER, CLASSROOM REPAIR MEASURE. To upgrade facilities preparing students/veterans for university transfer/careers like healthcare, nursing, technology, engineering/sciences; upgrade/repair aging classrooms, labs for science, technology, engineering/math-related fields of instruction; acquire, construct, repair facilities, equipment/sites; shall Foothill-De Anza Community College District's measure authorizing $898,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, levying 1.6 cents/$100 assessed valuation ($48,000,000 annually) while bonds are outstanding, with audits/no money for administrators' salaries, be adopted?"

"FOOTHILL-DE ANZA COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT EDUCATIONAL AND TEACHER EXCELLENCE MEASURE. To provide funding for local colleges that cannot be taken by the State; keep college education affordable; attract and retain quality teachers; support homeless, hungry students; maintain science, technology, health-science programs; and prepare students for university transfer, career and job training, shall Foothill-De Anza Community College District's measure levying $48 per parcel for 5 years ($5,500,000 annually), be adopted, with citizens' oversight, and with no funds for administrator salaries?"

These are sales pitches to vote yes.

13119 also requires disclosure of a duration. "while bonds are outstanding" is like saying nothing. The districts know exactly how long they expect to collect the tax. It's printed in the tax rate statement in the voter information guide. It's dishonest to prejudice voters who get past the sales pitch to avoid the disclosure requirement with meaningless tripe (lies).

For school and college districts, Education Code 15122 requires the maximum interest rate for bonds be printed on the ballot. Where is it? The district cheats with "at legal rates." That tells the voter nothing. The maximum interest rate is 12%. Districts don't want to let the voters know how expensive these bonds could be. Cheating, once again.

For Proposition 39 bonds, Education Code 15272 requires the following statement be printed on the ballot: "the board will appoint a citizens' oversight committee and conduct annual independent audits to assure that funds are spent only on school and classroom improvements and for no other purposes." Districts cheat by omitting this language. If they put it in, it would actually be false, because the measure goes way beyond "school and classroom improvements" and includes many "other purposes." Cheating.

Nothing in the election code allows a title on the ballot for local measures. Grandiose, self-serving titles like this are out-right false. Cheating.

Once you start cheating, you may as well pull out all the stops.

If you believe cheaters shouldn't prosper, then vote your values.

What's the solution to cheaters who win an election and steal millions of dollars? Think Houston Astros. It's called an election contest, which is available under the new law (AB-195). Call me for details.


2 people like this
Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 24, 2020 at 6:01 pm

Looking at these posts, I am a little disappointed by the rhetoric. Foothill and De Anza have served the South Bay with distinction for over 60 years. I am a Foothill graduate, as are my two children, and I know that the FHDA district has saved my family tens of thousands of dollars in college tuition fees. My family has benefited and I will gladly pay the extra dollars required to 'pay it forward' for the next generation who attend these colleges in the 2020s,30s,and 40s. Living in a democracy means that we think about our communities, not just our own selves.

If we don't like bonds, let's get rid of Prop 13 and then the State of California will have the tax base to make California's educational system great again, like it was before 1978. Just a thought.


10 people like this
Posted by Disgusting
a resident of Los Altos
on Feb 24, 2020 at 6:14 pm

These two FHDA measures are disgusting. They don't so much capital. They serve mainly students from outside the area being taxed. They have no good plans. The best thing is to vote these two things down completely at this point. It won't affect their operations. Nothing says they can't come back and ask for a more reasonable number. Their campaign materials alone are enough to justify rejecting this mess. Lying and misleading shouldn't be rewarded.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 25, 2020 at 8:44 am

The tax base referred to above is determined by the State of California and how much of the state budget is allocated to the "education" department. If the state budget is too low then the state budget needs to be increased. We voted for an individual to head up the education area - Tony Thurmond. And the Governor is now putting out ads on TV for people to approve the bond funds across the state.

Everyone recognizes that there is a problem then that means that the state needs to allocate more money from it's vast budget to resolve the deterioration in the schools. If the total budget of the state is being tweaked to address issues that the general public has not voted on then we need to fix that. We did not vote on Sanctuary cities. We did not vote on open borders. We did not vote on many topics that get pushed through as "values". When you see the word "value" then you know that is a budget issue that the general public has not voted on. And the money allocated to "values" should be directed to the education department to fix the problems that have been identified.


7 people like this
Posted by Frank G
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2020 at 3:58 pm

The District opened a brand-new, $55 million dollar building in Sunnyvale in 2016 and it's almost entirely empty- check the enrollment data, I have. They need to come out with a much more detailed plan before any voter should approve such a costly expense. Vote NO


2 people like this
Posted by Support Community Colleges too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2020 at 6:58 pm

@Frank G,
I think the building in Sunnyvale had some construction problems that affected its occupancy. My child has taken 2 courses there. It's not a whole campus like the main. I think all the EMT classes are there. They also have something on Fridays where students can take all their general ed requirements in one day of the week.

It's too bad Palo Alto wouldn't work with FHDA, or that campus would be in Palo Alto and in higher demand.

There's a lot of misinformation above. These funds are very needed, and the community college has laid out specifics publicly. People are sorely mistaken if they think it makes any difference if those specifics are in the bond, none of that is enforceable in any way for any bond (look at our k-12 district bonds).

Yes on G and H, these campuses need upgrades.


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