All five SVUSD Board trustees were present at Tuesday’s regular school board meeting. Held at City Hall, the meeting was aired live on the city’s cable access and an archive copy of the video is available HERE.
As expected, the meeting room was filled with concerned parents, district teachers and staff and community members, mostly attending over the issue of Simi Elementary School’s future. There were other items on the agenda that are significant, but in the interest of space and brevity this report will include those actions that seem to hold the greatest interest. If anyone is interested in something not listed here, post your question in the comments section at the end of the report and we’ll do our best to answer you there.
A link to the full agenda with all back up materials is HERE. Minutes from the meeting will be posted to the District’s website after they are approved by the Board at the next regular Board meeting on May 13.
During Public Comment, two members of the public asked the Board to spend available money to the benefit of the whole district and work on improving the district to attract more families and improve working conditions. Another member of the public praised the district for recent changes in technology and communications.
During the Superintendent’s Communication, Dr. Kathryn Scroggin acknowledged the recent deaths in two unrelated incidents of two Royal High School students during Spring Break.
She also addressed the recent downgrading of the SVUSD credit rating through Moody’s Investor Service. The rating was decreased from A1 to Aa3 with a “negative outlook.” Dr. Scroggin explained that the rating is part of an annual review by Moody’s, and while it is a very strong rating still for the SVUSD, the downgrade reflects the SVUSD weakening general fund position over the last two years and a change in Moody’s rating criteria.
“We believe with a prudent approach, the district can reestablish a higher rating in the next 12-18 months. This change in our rating again cautions us to the importance of rightsizing our district,” Dr. Scroggin said.
Approved in full by the Board, 5-0 vote; no changes or items pulled.
SIMI ELEMENTARY SCHOOL/MOUNTAIN VIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
(Action- Business & Facilities 5.3, 5.4, 5.5):
Simi Elementary School is the city’s oldest operating building. Built in 1926, it’s comprised of one main administration building, six permanent classroom buildings and two portable units.
In 2012 and 2013, after a series of serious safety concerns and infrastructure breakdowns in the main administration building, school operations were mostly relocated out of that building, pending the Board’s direction on seismic (earthquake) retrofitting and other modernization needs.
On Feb. 4, 2014, the Board voted to move the Simi Elementary students and staff to Mountain View Elementary because of increased safety concerns with the entire property involving corroding gas lines and other utility issues. Today the school operates separately from Mountain View, with each school maintaining its individual schedules, staff and administrative personnel.
About $2.7 million was set aside in 2006 from the Measure C4 Bond to update the Simi Elementary and there is a potential $900,000 available in state matching funds for the seismic retrofitting ONLY. Those matching funds require a commitment from the District to complete the repairs in a set timeframe and the District has only until June to request the funds. Repairs to the main administration building are estimated at $6.3 million. The rest of the campus will cost up to $4.3 million (estimated) to repair and modernize, making the overall cost of the Simi Elementary modernization about $10.6 million.
The issue has garnered support among the Simi Elementary community as well as debate over the costs among other community members.
- Following the District’s recommendation, the Board voted 4-1 with Trustee Debbie Sandland dissenting to NOT modernize and seismically retrofit the main administration building on the Simi Elementary campus. The estimated cost of the effort was $6.3 million.
- Following the District’s recommendation, the Board voted 4-1 with Trustee Debbie Sandland dissenting to:
- Move forward with the plans and designs of the remaining Simi Elementary campus. This is NOT a commitment to do the repairs and modernization, only to gather the plans and designs of what will be needed.
- The Board added Amendment #1 to this motion that the District will provide a cost estimate of what the plans and designs will be at the next special Board meeting on April 29, AND
- The Board added Amendment #2 that the original Simi Elementary campus would not be reopened for students and staff until at LEAST the 2017-18 school year.
- The Board voted unanimously to NOT install chain link fencing around the main administration building of the Simi Elementary School campus and instead research other security options for ensuring the building’s safety.
- Following the District’s recommendation, the Board voted unanimously to move forward with the modernization of the Mountain View Elementary campus at an estimated cost of $3.5 million. This project will include a new parking lot, remodeled restrooms, accessibility upgrades, updated utility lines, classroom and office renovations and a new fire alarm system. Most of the construction will happen over the next two summers to minimize the impact on staff and students.
(Action-Business & Facilities 5.1)
In an effort to help balance its budget, the District has declared several properties it owns as “surplus,” which allows them to be sold. The Blackstock property is a half-acre vacant lot zoned as “commercial” that is located at the corner of Los Angeles Avenue and Blackstock Street near the Simi Valley Adult School. The District has set the sale price of the property at “no less than $390,000.”
- Following the District’s recommendation, the Board voted 4-1 with Trustee Debbie Sandland dissenting to sell the property.
COPY/PRINT/SCAN SERVICE AGREEMENT
(Action-Business & Facilities 5.2)
In an effort to save money, the District has researched alternate contracts for multi-function copy machines. Following a bid process, the District proposes signing a new five-year contract for the lease of new copy/scan/print machines throughout the District (these would completely replace existing machines) and the service agreements to maintain these machines, which would realize a savings of $325,560 between the existing agreement and this new one.
- Following the District’s recommendation, the Board voted unanimously to sign the new contract.
The new machines will be installed at the schools and offices over the summer.
MODEL FOR PROPOSED TRUSTEE AREA ELECTIONS
This item is a fairly complex issue and has to do with changing how future School Board Trustees could be elected. Right now, all voting residents of the District vote for School Board Trustees at large. It’s been proposed that to follow emerging state law, School Board Trustees may need to be voted on by regions or areas created within the District.
Instead of moving forward on this issue, the Board has asked for community input. We’ll release a more detailed Board Report during the week of April 21 to better explain the issue and to also provide supporting maps and other materials.