BOARD REPORT: Regular Board Meeting June 24, 2014

Education. School, teaching and educational concept blackboard.

Tuesday’s regular meeting for the Simi Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees is the last of the school year and several important actions were taken by the Board that need to be reported. The full agenda pack with back up materials can be found HERE, as well as the meetings recorded video.

1. (Action Item Educational Services 3.1) The Board unanimously approved the District’s Local Control Accountability Plan for the 2014-15 school year. This plan, newly mandated by the state in 2013, requires all California school districts to provide a three-year goal-setting and implementation plan for each district to follow. Part of the process of developing the LCAP required intensive input from “stakeholders” in the local educational community–students, teachers, parents, administrators and community members. The eight priority areas each District’s plan must address are: student engagement, student achievement, school climate, basic services, Common Core State Standards, access to a broad curriculum, parent involvement and other student outcomes. The LCAP is required before any school district receives funding from the state. More information about the LCAP and the final plan are found HERE.

2. (Action Item Educational Services 3.2) The Board voted 4-1 with Trustee Debbie Sandland dissenting to close Simi Elementary School in the 2015-2016 school year. The school has been operating independently at the Mountain View Elementary campus since February when the Board agreed to close the campus because of safety concerns affecting the entire property. Over the last few weeks, the District began consolidating some logistics. Simi Elementary Principal Kate Snowden was reassigned to Wood Ranch Elementary and Mountain View Elementary Principal Jenny Goldman will oversee both schools this year with the assistance of a dean. Simi Elementary students will continue to be bussed to the Mountain View campus as requested.

The vote also included the Board’s directive that a community-based committee be created to oversee the preservation and future use of the historic property. The front/main building of the Simi Elementary campus was the oldest operating building in the city of Simi Valley, but repairs needed to seismically retrofit were estimated at $6.3 million from quotes obtained a couple of years ago. Additionally, the cost to upgrade the remainder of the property was estimated at up to $4.3 million, again from quotes obtained a couple of years ago.

Closing the campus is estimated to save the District between $350,000 and $400,000 the first year and if the property is repurposed, that estimate drops to $200,000 to $250,000 annually. In 2013-14, about 235 students were enrolled in the school. For 2014-15, about 109 students are expected to remain in Simi Elementary School. More information documenting the maintenance issues at the campus can be found HERE.

3. (Action Item Business & Facilities 5.2) The Board unanimously approved the District’s 2014-2015 proposed budget. With expected revenue of $142 million and expected expenses at $144 million, the District will make up the difference through surplus reserves remaining from the 2013-2014 budget year, leaving a surplus after reserves are accounted for of about $411,000 at the end of 2014-2015. The next two year’s budget estimates also project small surpluses.

Declining enrollment continues to be a factor in the budget with an estimated student loss of 418 students for a projected enrollment districtwide of 17,935 students. There are also increases in some employee health benefits, including a 11.54 percent increase in PPO coverage and a 3.08 percent increase in Blue Cross HMO coverage. To help balance the budget, employees will now pay for some of the medical coverage provided to their spouses under the District’s benefit plan.

But, all potential teacher layoffs–38 total–were rescinded because of the overwhelming response to the District’s early retirement incentive plan (PARS). There will still be three furlough days on the next year’s school calendar and the Kindergarten through third grade class size will be reduced to 26:1.

This is only the preliminary budget and the Board will once again be asked to review a revised budget after the State Legislature and Governor approve a state budget. For more specific information about the District’s budget, go HERE.

4. (Action Item Business & Facilities 5.6) Related to the Simi Elementary closure, the Board also unanimously agreed to look into exterior fencing to protect the front/main building on the Simi Elementary campus. Believing it would be less visibly obtrusive, District staff recommending exploring an interior bracing system to support the walls until repairs could begin on the building, but several community members asked that fencing be considered instead so as to not cause further damage to the building’s walls. The Board agreed and staff will gather estimates and options for different types of fencing.

5. (Action Item Business & Facilities 5.4) The Board unanimously agreed to repair/replace the roofs at the following schools: Atherwood Elementary, Big Springs Elementary, Hillside Middle School, Hollow Hills Elementary, Royal High School, Santa Susana Elementary, Sinaloa Middle School and Valley View Middle School.

These schools were identified as having the most deteriorated roofs. The estimated cost to repair these roofs is $2 million and will be paid for through the Measure C4 bond, leaving a balance in the Measure C4 bond account of about $11.6 million.

6. (Action Item Business & Facilities 5.5) The Board unanimously agreed to replace the broken air-conditioning and heating units at the Education Service Center for almost $150,000. Two of the four units in the main building stopped working in April. District maintenance staff will install the new units, which are expected to provide better energy efficiency.

The next regular SVUSD School Board meeting is scheduled for August 5.

BOARD REPORT: Special SVUSD Board Workshop-April 29, 2014

Education concept

On April 29, 2014, the SVUSD Board of Trustees met for a Special Board Meeting-New Technology Bond Workshop. The purpose of this workshop was to update the Board on what the process would be for placing a voter-approved bond on the 2014 election. There were also two action items that the Board members decided upon. Three Board members were present for the meeting: Arleigh Kidd, Dan White and Rob Collins. Trustee Debbie Sandland called into the meeting from out of town. Trustee Jeanne Davis was absent. A full transcript of the meeting agenda and back up materials is available HERE.

 ACTION CALENDAR:

Personnel Services, Action #1:
By a 4-0 vote (Davis absent), the Board agreed to rescind three certificated staff development furlough days from the six originally scheduled for the 2014-15 school year. Money expected from the State of California to help fund the implementation of the Common Core State Standards will be used to for these staff development days for a cost of $981,912.09, as is allowed under the State’s guidelines.

Personnel Services, Action #2:

By a 4-0 vote (Davis absent), the board approved the agreement with Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS) to manage a supplementary retirement plan (SRP) for eligible employees. (More commonly referred to as the district’s early retirement plan.) The board also agreed to extend the deadline for SRP applications to May 9 to allow for additional applicants. This will not affect the standing applications. The District reported that a total of 94 eligible employees applied for the SRP, including nine from certificated management, 40 from certificated, 6 from classified management and 39 from classified. Early numbers estimate that the District will save $1.2 million over the next five years.

UPDATE:

Superintendent Dr. Kathryn Scroggins said Wednesday that there was more than enough participation in the SRP to rescind almost all of the Reduction in Force (RIF) notices sent out in March. In other words, almost no RIF layoffs are expected as there was enough participation to offset the cost savings sought from the RIF.

“Most of the people who have received RIF notices are being contacted that the PARS has been approved by the board, and based on that action, their RIFs will be rescinded on May 13,” she said.

 

NEW TECHNOLOGY BOND WORKSHOP:

BACKGROUND:

In 2004, voters approved the $145 million Measure C4 bond by 62 percent of the vote. As of now, all of the bonds have been issued and almost all of the funds from the bonds have been spent. Every campus in the SVUSD has received some improvements from the bond, but almost every campus also has remaining projects that could not be completed because there was not enough money from the original bond, mostly due to rising construction costs and changing needs.

In November of 2011, a poll showed that there could be enough voter support for a new bond that included a modest tax rate increase to fund unmet and new technology needs. Another poll was conducted in December 2013 and January 2014 again showing voter support for a new bond.

The SVUSD Board asked District staff to further explore the potential for launching a new bond effort, targeted for the November 2014 election to meet technology needs and other facility upgrades not met by Measure C4.

As this was only a workshop and not a formal board meeting, District staff only asked the Board if there was enough interest in continuing to gather information on a new bond to move forward in the process.

The District has until Aug. 6 to file the required documentation with Ventura County to establish a campaign and election for Nov. 4. The District’s bond consultant told the Board that at this point in the process, overriding categories and estimated amounts needed for what the bond could pay for were all that would be required; the District and Board would have time after a potential bond was passed to decide on specifics.

The amount of the bond is determined partly by how much the tax rate could be. The bond consultant proposed a range from $10 to $18 a year per $100,000 of property value, which is charged through District’s homeowners’ property tax bills. For example, if you own a house within the District valued at $300,000 and the bond passes with a $10 assessment, your property tax bill would increase by $30 a year for the term of the bond.

There are about 72,000 voters in the District. The bond consultants also estimated that a November 2014 election would bring about 41,000 voters (based on 2006 and 2010 voter turnout). Passing a bond based on these numbers would require about 22,600 votes.

The Board did ask the District to return in May with more detailed information about what items were slated for funding through a potential bond and how much money was being sought. From the information provided in the agenda report (link above), some of the items on the needs list were funded from an $8 million allocation the Board made last year for technology needs. Also, Trustee Dan White asked that a committee be created among community members with technology expertise to better define a long-term plan for the District’s tech needs, and preferred a November 2016 election. Trustee Arleigh Kidd also asked about a November 2016 election for the bond instead of one held later this year. Trustees Debbie Sandland and Rob Collins supported moving forward with a bond this year.