SLV School District Perspectives
School Board Meeting Synopsis
September 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.)
The board had no report out of closed session, which was listed on the agenda as follows:
Confidential Personnel Issues (which may include leaves, medical issues, disciplines, separation, etc.) (Government Code 54957)
Claimants: SLV CARES, Michelle Hooker, L. Crews McCulloch, Janice Marshall, and Martin McKendry Vs San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District
State Budget Workshop
This workshop got underway late (closed session ran over) so Don Fox really whipped through the presentation quickly. I captured as many of the main points as I could.
It was predictably bad news.
Mr. Fox showed graphs of the curves of increased state tax generated in the late 90's. Much of the state budget shortfall occurred when tax revenue returned to a normal rate of growth. Upon further breakdown, we could see that almost all of the excess was due to stock options and similar, creating an artificially inflated tax income for the state in that period.
When all is said and done, there is a $180 drop per ADA funding this year (for a total of $430,000), and substantial cuts in categorical funding as well. At the same time, Workers Comp and other expenses are climbing. (For some reason, Workers Comp insurance costs twice as much, on average, in California as the rest of the nation.) In addition, there will almost certainly be midyear cuts from the State again this year. Some of this money we should get back "some day". I don't think it's advisable to hold our breaths while we wait.
There was notably less community input tonight, and most of it had a respectful tone. Combining the the input from throughout the meeting, it fell into a few categories:
- Support for the board and administration during this difficult time - this was voiced by at least half a dozen valley residents. Many of these were wearing "No Recall" badges, and some specifically mentioned the recall. They applauded the governing body and staff for their "Focus on Students" direction.
- Good reports about the beginning of school at Boulder Creek Elementary. At least two former Redwood parents spoke of feeling welcomed at BCE and felt there was generally a positive atmosphere. Confidence was expressed that conflicts and hurt feelings could be resolved.
- Paul Storm from the Boulder Creek Recreation board came to follow up on the issue regarding the tennis courts at BCE. Superintendent Haff detailed the current situation - it will be on the agenda for discussion when the attorneys finish an agreement.
- Again, the issue of "rezoning" of the land near the Redwood school building was brought up, first by Dave Churchill. Ms. Haff and Ms. Sprenger gave a brief history of the situation, and said that Jeff Almquist would come to the next meeting to further clear up the matter. (More info about this issue.) Questions were asked about the details regarding "when Ms. Sprenger went off" to ask County Board of Supervisors the question. (I'm not sure why it was phrased that way.) Another community member mentioned remembering when the issue of teacher housing was officially dropped, and had consulted her notes and meeting minutes about it. Notably, Brian Sanford, who facilitated the school closure committee last spring, said that he felt that people who were saying that the process was "fixed" beforehand were calling him a liar, and gave assurances that this was not so.
There were many mentions of the excellent staff meeting which started the school year, and everyone seemed very upbeat about it. Many staff members present sported yellow "Focus on Students" buttons.
Superintendent Haff also mentioned that there was some conflict about recall campaigning on school campuses. Many BCE parents had complained about this. Since these are "quasi-public" buildings, this campaigning cannot be entirely disallowed, but it is now restricted to non-school hours on the following schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-5 PM at the Multipurpose Rooms of both elementary schools and the High School/Jr. High cafeteria, during the month of September. Both proponents of the recall and those against it can talk to interested individuals at these times.
Bond Accounting Answers from Last Meeting
The question which stood out to me was regarding when we would know about the next round of modernization funds. This will be voted on in a statewide measure in March. Similar measures have always passed before. Let's all keep our fingers crossed.
Brian Loehr updated us on both BCE walkway project and the high school renovation.
The BCE project was reported to be delayed by a few days by the discovery of gas and water pipes which were "not on any plan or map". They had to be rerouted and properly taken care of. The major excavation should now be completed the third week in September, and the whole project by the end of September.
The high school project has run into an entirely different type of delay. Although the plans were passed by the architects at the state level, it turns out that to qualify for modernization funds, we have to institute a Labor Compliance Program, which is quite an undertaking - it involves monitoring and enforcing labor codes that are usually left to the contractors to take care of. One example is making sure the proper number of apprentices is on site. We will need to hire someone to take care of this. Mr. Loehr has been talking to one provider and was asked to bring quotes from at least two at the next meeting. Construction can't begin until all this is in place.
At this point, Ms. Haff reported that she has been pursuing the concern raised by Redwood parents about an earthquake fault near BCE. In contacting the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, the preliminary opinion was that the fault has not been active for approximately 23 million years. She reports that she is continuing to pursue this to get a more definitive answer.
Education Foundation is a Reality!
Susan Weber gave a report on the educational foundation she has been working on for over a year, called the SLV Foundation for Education. Over the summer the last of what was necessary for nonprofit status came through, so contributions are tax-exempt. They have a board of four people so far, and plans are to have seven total on the board from different parts of the District. They also want to have an advisory board of 20-30 people meeting quarterly, mainly to generate ideas.
One of the first fundraising activities for the Foundation will be to contact supporters of Measure A to see if they will donate the $135 they would have paid had the parcel tax passed. Ms. Weber also reports that the foundation must accumulate $60,000 in funds before they can begin to give any away.
The money will be used to support long-term projects to benefit students of the San Lorenzo Valley.
"Keeping the Focus" 03-04
Ms. French gave a report of the directional plan for the district this year. She told us about the goals, priorities, outcome measures, and more.
Selected Action Items
SLVUSD Childcare Proposal for Quail Hollow
The surveys are going well, and still coming in. Right now a rough tabulation of 138 returned surveys shows a high rate of interest, with 18 saying they would take advantage of the proposed childcare "tomorrow", and more showing interest in the longer-term. A report of the completed survey and a full proposal will be forthcoming at the next meeting, and the board will have the opportunity to vote on it.
Fee for Copies of Public Records
Background: Citizens have the right to have access to public records of the District. Government Code allows the District to charge a fee to cover direct costs of duplication, although the exact formula for determining this is left to Superintendent. (If a citizen does not want to pay a fee, reasonable access to the record must be provided at the District office during normal business hours and within the requirements of state and federal law.)
Because of the District's current financial situation, it has become necessary to recover expenses associated with making requested copies of public records. Public records include proposed and approved budgets, statistical compilations, reports, notices and bulletins, agendas and minutes of public meetings, official communications between governmental branches, school-based program plans, tort claims filed against the district and records pertaining to pending litigation (unless otherwise protected), contracts of employment and settlement agreements, and others.
At this meeting, the discussion centered around how much of the costs of retrieving and copying the records are considered to be "direct". More information will be obtained, and the exact language will be voted on next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at around 9:20 PM.