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notices are being contacted that the PARS has been approved by the board, and based on that action, their RIFs will be rescinded on May 13,” she said.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.

BOARD REPORT: Regular Board Meeting-April 15, 2014

the concept of learning

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.

COMMUNICATIONS:

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.

CONSENT CALENDAR:

Approved in full by the Board, 5-0 vote; no changes or items pulled.

ACTION CALENDAR:

SIMI ELEMENTARY SCHOOL/MOUNTAIN VIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

(Action- Business & Facilities 5.3, 5.4, 5.5):

Background:

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.

DECISIONS:

  • 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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.

SURPLUS PROPERTY

(Action-Business & Facilities 5.1)

Background:

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.”

DECISION:

  • 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)

Background:

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.

DECISION:

  • Following the District’s recommendation, the Board voted unanimously to sign the new contract.

UPDATE:

The new machines will be installed at the schools and offices over the summer.

MODEL FOR PROPOSED TRUSTEE AREA ELECTIONS

(Action-Board/Administration 1.2)

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.