EDITOR: The members of the Board of Trustees of the Morgan Hill
School District who support the construction and completion of
Sobrato High School by August 2004 will support their argument in
the following ways:

The members of the Board of Trustees of the Morgan Hill School District who support the construction and completion of Sobrato High School by August 2004 will support their argument in the following ways:

Ninth-graders at Martin Murphy and Britton need to be moved on to a high school campus. The State of California has funds available for school construction and it would be cheaper to build an additional high school now then it would be at a later date. The majority of the Trustees are convinced that there will be an explosion in growth in the Coyote Valley and in Morgan Hill. Finally, the majority of trustees believe that they have a mandate from the voters to build a new high school.

Let’s take a look at each of these arguments.

The ninth graders can be accommodated on the existing Live Oak campus. In round numbers Live Oak currently has 1600 students. The ninth grade population at Martin Murphy and Britton total 700 students. Live Oak can be configured at a minimal cost to accommodate the total of 2300 students. Keep in mind that the current Live Oak modernization project is $5 million over plan and the construction of Sobrato High School will be close to $80 million.

It is true that The State of California has funds available for construction. The real question should be where does the money come from to open and maintain the school? The district needs to cut the budget by $4.7 million dollars to make ends meet. August 2004 is 17 months away. Can anyone really believe that the financial condition of the California economy will turn around by then?

The district will be impacted in two ways, the development of Coyote Valley and the growth of Morgan Hill. The development of Coyote Valley could produce in excess of 20,000 new households. If you look deeper into the development information you’ll find on line the story does not look quit as rosy. Development density is projected to be 27.7 households per acre which means apartments, condos and town houses. As a rule the students per household would be lower then average for this type of housing.

San Jose has several triggers in place before they would consider development. The first is the commercial development must produce at least 5000 jobs and the biggest obstacle is the requirement to have a balanced budget 2 to 3 years out into the future. Most of the local stock brokerage houses will tell you that they don’t anticipate the local economy to get back to normal for at least eight years.

That leaves the growth explosion up to Morgan Hill. Measure P and the extension of Measure P will continue to dramatically limit growth through the year 2020. At the end of 2002 Morgan Hill had a population of 37,785 and an average household of 3.054 individuals which converts into approximately 12,375 households. At the end of 2006 our local population is projected to increase to 37,870 (+85) and by the end of 2010 the population will approach 40,770 (+2,985).

Let’s do the math based on the 2010 projections. A population increase of 2985/3.054 individuals per household would mean an increase of 977 units. Here’s an important point to keep in mind. According to MHSD’s own statistics each household represents .172 students between the 9th and 12th grade. If you multiply an increase of 977 households by .172 would indicate an increase of 168 high school students. The district’s own projections show enrollment is on the decline.

As far as a mandate by the voters, I don’t think so. If we knew then what we know now, no one would have voted for the bond issue because in hindsight we voted for something we can no longer afford in today dollars.

At the board meeting on March 10 a presentation made by the district administration which indicated that the district was in fact broke. In my opinion we don’t need to spend almost $80 million to construct a second high school. We need the MHSD Trustees to realize that the their true mandate is the education of our students and not the reckless spending of taxpayer dollars.

Harlan Warthen,

Morgan Hill

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