SLV School District Perspectives


General Information

School Board Meetings

Budget Info

School Closures

Recall Election

Analysis and Discussion


School Board Meeting Synopsis

December 2, 2003

Link To SLVUSD Web site Agendas and Minutes Page (Note: These are PDF files - read this if you have trouble opening them). Minutes are posted after they are approved, usually at the next regular meeting.

Note from Laura About These Synopses (Basically, I report on what I think will be most interesting to community residents. Consult the minutes for a more complete listing of what happened in the meeting.)

Closed Session

The board had no report out of closed session, which was listed on the agenda as follows:

Labor Negotiations Compensation for Represented and Unrepresented Employees (Government Code 54957.6)

Confidential Personnel Issues (which may include leaves, medical issues, disciplines, separation, etc.) (Government Code 54957)

Superintendent Performance Evaluation (Government Code 54957)

Conference with Legal Counsel - Pending Litigation
Government Code: section 54956.9 (b)(1)(3)(c) (What is this?)
Claimants: SLV CARES, Michelle Hooker, L. Crews McCulloch, Janice Marshall, and Martin McKendry Vs San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District (What is this?)

Organizational Updates/Announcements

Trustees Sprenger and Kyrnitszke have been attending an anti-drug task force at the high school, which includes teachers, parents, and students. One of their goals is to survey successful anti-drug programs in other areas, including internationally. They report that it is going well.

Groundbreaking event at the high school was well-attended. It is hoped that it will be an outward symbol of changes happening in the District.

On behalf of the SLVTA, representative Tina Andes, thanked Superintendent Haff for her leadership in this past year.


All-Weather Track Report

David Wood gave a presentation updating us on how the project is coming. He emphasized that there is no intention to use school funds for any part of the project. The plan is to get the $$ in place and build the track next summer. Since it will be made with recycled tires, they are applying for a grant that comes from the extra we pay for tires to go towards recycling projects, along with a Nike grant. The Boosters will contribute $60-100,000. Even so, they will have to do more fundraising. The project will cost an estimated $360,000.

There are many advantages to this type of track. Our track and cross-country teams have been improving in recent years, and that is attracting more students to the teams. The boys track team were fourth in the state this year, and the girls were second in cross-country. More and more students are getting college scholarships in running. It would be nice to be able to support this growth with a track that works in the rainy season. We could host more major running events here. Additionally, the track should reduce running-related injuries and respiratory problems.

SLV High School Wetlands Project for Sewage Treatment

Background: The District has had a lot of woes dealing with the septic situation on the Felton campus. The problem has to do with an excess of nitrogen, which seems to be a common problem in the area (the San Lorenzo River has high nitrate levels, mainly thought to be from the large number of septic systems in the area). I didn't quite get all the details about the nitrogen situation, but I do get that we were mandated to reduce the nitrogen output by 50%. We hired engineers to design a system to take care of it, and paid $300K for the system. It didn't work (as far as reducing nitrogen). Now we are really under the gun from the Regional Water Board to make changes.

Fall Creek Engineering, which has done a lot of work in septic systems, has evaluated our situation and gave recommendations. It was quite interesting. It turns out that a school puts particular demands upon a septic system which he doesn't feel were taken into consideration previously. Mainly, the problems are very uneven input into the system (low during summers, and most of the flow occurring during breaks and lunch time), and a carbon:nitrogen ratio that is out of whack. Whereas a home would tend to produce a ratio of 5:1, which is optimal, children tend to save their carbon output, which mainly comes from solid waste, for home disposal, leaving the ratio at close to 1:1 at school (translation: they pee at school, but they don't poop).

The recommendation is for the District to consider an option of a "constructed wetlands" to take the waste through one of its steps. This is a relatively new process, but many municipalities are turning to it with success. (For more information on constructed wetlands, see sites listed at the end of this report.) It has several advantages:

- It can easily deal with fluctuations in flow.
- It has an intrinsic carbon source from the plants in the wetlands.
- It will cost less to maintain and run (right now, we have to have blowers going 24/7 to blow away the nitrogen - and it still doesn't work!)
- It will have educational value.
- It is less expensive than alternatives.
- It will bring in more wildlife (eventually).

The water area will be about 1/4 acre, and the system will cost approximately $185,000. Apparently, odors are not a problem, mosquitos can be easily controlled, and the water area will be fenced.

One downside is that it takes awhile to establish a biological system. Others are going to be researching this option more for the next meeting.

For more information:

EPA Web Site on Constructed Wetlands - The site states that it was written 10 years ago, but it still seems to have good basic information.

Google Search on "Constructed Wetlands"

Action Items

Surplus Property Advisory Committee

The above committee presented their final report. Danielle Barnes presented, and stated that it was "a real pleasure" to work on the committee, and gave special kudos to the facilitator. The recommendations were the same as listed at the public hearing at the last meeting.

Community Input: Michelle Hooker said that she was concerned when no replacement teacher was found for the committee after the first one quit. She said she found it "odd". She also feels that there was not enough communication with the community to solicit input.

Superintendent Haff replied that an "great effort" went into recruiting a replacement teacher for the committee, but that the number of interested teachers was "exactly zero". She also stated that there were two public hearings which were advertised in the Valley Press and Santa Cruz Sentinel, at which community input was sought, and that public notices for the committee were posted at all District sites.

Annual Organizational Business

The annual election and appointment of officers and committee appointments was conducted. Susan Weber will be the President of the Board for 2004, and Barbara Spenger will be the Clerk. For other appointments, see the minutes of this meeting. (PDF)

Jeff Bidmon, as his term as President of the Board is ending, thanked the board members for their dignity and professionalism during this most difficult year, as well as Superintendent Haff and the teachers of the District.

[I would also like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Jeff Bidmon for doing what I consider to be a remarkable job in exceptionally trying circumstances. He was able to keep the meetings on course even when emotions ran very high. He created an environment where all had a chance to speak their mind, giving respect to everyone. He kept his thoughts clear even when meetings ran late into the night. He used the words "dignity" and "professionalism", to describe the board this year, and I can think of no one to whom the words apply more than he himself. Thank you, Mr. Bidmon, for this service you have given your community in this critical time.]

Proposed Budget Cuts 2004-05

Background: The District continues to face a challenging financial situation, as enrollment continues to decline, and the state budget situation worsens. The County Office of Education has approved the District's adopted budget, but is requiring us to submit a detailed plan of action for the next two fiscal years (2004-05, and 2005-06).

Ms. Henden made it clear that the cuts she was proposing were preliminary. The total amount of cuts needed WILL fluctuate, and so will the proposals of how to deal with it. I was not able to copy them all, and at this point, I suggest that people check out the minutes of the meeting (PDF). In January, I will put an update to this in the "Budget" section of this site.

Meeting was adjourned to closed session at 9:20 PM.

Laura Dolson