Giant Parcel Tax and Bond for The Tamalpais Union High School District

Hiring Consultant Would Further Advance TUHSD’s Plan for $450 Million Bond Measure and Parcel Tax.

The Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) will be deciding Tuesday July 18 whether to hire a “campaign strategist” for (1) a proposed $450 million bond measure in 2018 and (2) a possible parcel tax — of size not yet determined — in 2020 to cover rising operating expenses.

Contracting a campaign consultant further propels TUHSD toward a bond offering with proceeds directed to substantially redesigning three major high school campuses: Redwood, Tamalpais, and Drake. The extensive project list (Facilities Master Plan, or FMP) was developed through an extensive consultant-directed on-campus wish-list process that regrettably did not include off-campus stakeholders such as taxpayers, city planners and city councils.

The draft FMP wish list equates to the maximum school bond measure permitted under CA laws: It will cost each property owner $30/$100,000 assessed valuation annually for 30 years. The owner of a typical district property would see a tax increase of $300 at the start, growing to over $500 annually. Cumulative cost to the typical current Marin homeowner would exceed $12,000.

(Plans for a parcel tax are not as well developed yet. The district believes rising expenses — salaries, health benefits, and pensions — should be addressed with a parcel tax measure.)

Now is the time to learn more and to let the board know what you think. Each step of the process adds to the sunk cost and inertial momentum.

Learn about the bond measure and Facilities Master Plan:
– Marin Voice op/ed re TUHSD FMP process and bond measure. (link here)
– Complete Draft FMP here: For financial summary see pages 58-9 and 71
– FMP Powerpoint presentation (including enrollment forecasts on page 50 showing a near-term enrollment uptick, then returning to current levels)


Attend upcoming board meetings and speak during public comment:

Tuesday July 18 – Agenda includes approval of selection of Whitehurst/Mosher as campaign strategist for bond and/or parcel tax measures. Hiring the strategist would continue forward momentum toward a potential $450 million bond measure to fund major campus overhauls and/or a parcel tax for rising operating expenses.

TUHSD meetings start at 6PM
Location: Kreps Conference Room (Redwood HS), Dougherty Dr., Larkspur

Email TUHSD directors with your thoughts about FMP and bond financing:
Laura Anderson, President:

Leslie Lundgren, Clerk:

Barbara Owens, Director:

Michael Futterman, Director:

Chuck Ford, Director:


Marin Voice: Tam bond measure needs input from all stakeholders
By Robert Miltner and Laura Effel
POSTED: 07/12/17, 9:45 AM PDT
At a Tamalpais Union High School District board meeting on July 18, the trustees will consider adopting a “Facilities Master Plan” to overhaul Redwood, Tamalpais and Sir Francis Drake high school campuses.** Implementation would require a bond of $450 million for us taxpayers to vote on. With interest, this could cost nearly $1 billion.


You didn’t get notice? Hardly anyone did.

Stakeholders whose views were solicited in drafting this Facilities Master Plan did not include taxpayers. Only students, teachers, administrators and parents counted as stakeholders.

So, the draft master plan looks like a wish list, not a budget for addressing urgent needs or considering available funds.

If you knew to look for the Facilities Master Plan draft on the district’s website, you would find the proposed project list, which seemingly totals $300 million. The draft mentions items “excluded from this budget.”

Only by attending the district’s board meeting of June 13 or by watching the video recording of it would you have learned from the district’s consultant that the amount of additional “excluded item” costs would be $150 million, raising the project’s total construction-related tab to $450 million before interest expense.

A bond measure to fund this would increase property taxes $300 annually on a home in the district with an assessed value of $1 million.

For bond measures, there is no exclusion for senior citizens.

The high schools in this district are already excellent schools. We are rightly proud of their high quality.

That said, we believe this proposal is vastly out of reach.

The current tax burden on homeowners is not inconsiderable, and taxpayers have become aware that public agencies are not prudent in using our money.

A few examples: $1 billion of unfunded employee retirement benefits, the SMART train’s serious financial shortfalls, a possible Marin transportation sales tax increase above the state-mandated limit, repeated increases in water rates — and the list goes on.

Many of us are sensitive to any new proposals for more taxes.

More important, this proposed Facilities Master Plan falls outside of what is needed.

We have spent time in the corridors and rooms of these schools, attended sporting and performance events and been to many meetings with teachers and school administrators. The facilities never seemed inadequate; nor did the kids complain that they wished the schools had more this, or better that.

The teachers themselves were the most important resource. And for good reason, as the faculty members were, and surely still are, outstanding.

Despite the lack of inclusiveness of the Facilities Master Plan process, we do not believe the district intended to sneak up on us taxpayers, as it appears to have done.

The trustees all seem to be caring public servants who listen and want to do what is right. But they have gotten swept away by a process they are now finding difficult to stop.

With your encouragement they can stop or scale back this out-of-control process.
If the board approves the Facilities Master Plan at the July 18 meeting, the next step would be for the board to vote to approve a bond measure for the ballot.**

This could happen as early as late July. We urge you to become informed, weigh in, and attend the July 18 board meeting.

Robert Miltner and Laura Effel are residents of Larkspur. Mr. Miltner’s two children graduated from Redwood and are now in graduate school at Ivy League campuses.

**Note that the board meeting agenda released 7/14/17 indicates that the vote on accepting the FMP has been postponed. However, your input at or before that meeting is important, as the board will vote instead on July 18 on moving the ballot measure process forward by hiring a campaign strategist for a bond offering and possible parcel tax.

Giant Parcel Tax and Bond for The Tamalpais Union High School District