Local News

Trustee, staffing, Montessori charter, facilities on school board agenda

By From page A1 | April 30, 2014

The Davis school board faces a busy agenda Thursday night, with four topics that are likely to generate discussion:

* The appointment of a school board trustee, who will serve through November;

* A batch of hires that restore some teaching positions cut during the budget crisis and some new administrative hires aimed at implementing the school district’s new strategic plan;

* A first look at a proposal that would generate $20 million in facilities financing to address backlogged maintenance and replace aging infrastructure. This would include $8 million in roof repairs, $6.5 million in portable classroom replacements and $3.3 million in upgrades to heating/cooling systems; and

* A vote on the proposed Montessori Charter School of Davis, which turned in a petition to the board in March.

Any one of these items ordinarily would be the focus of a typical school board meeting, but having all four on the same agenda could make for a long night. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Community Chambers at Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd., and will be carried live on Davis cable Channel 17 and as streaming video at www.djusd.tv.

Some likely highlights:

* Appointed trustee: The board will hear three-minute presentations from the eight candidates — Tom Adams, Barbara Archer, Alan Fernandes, Jose Granda, B.J. Kline, Robert Poppenga, Chuck Rairdan and Madhavi Sunder. Then, trustees will hold a series of votes to narrow the field to three finalists.

The finalists will then come back for more questions and answers during a special board meeting Thursday, May 8, during which one candidate will be selected for appointment. The seat was vacated by trustee Nancy Peterson when she resigned in March. A special election will take place in November, with the winner serving the remaining two years on Peterson’s term.

* Positions: Trustees are expected to vote on whether to add back 12 teaching positions that were eliminated during the six-year budget crisis, thereby reducing class sizes; boost secretarial time in several elementary school offices; restore a groundskeeper job and a night custodian position; and hired a half-time publications coordinator.

Trustees also will be asked to create three administrative positions at the district office. The new jobs would be a director of curriculum, assessment and learning (bringing back a position cut during the budget crisis); a director of personnel services (a new position, which the administration deems important given the large number of experienced teachers in the district who are expected to retire in the next five years); and a part-time public information officer (a new position).

The proposal would also retitle two currently serving senior administrators (an assistant superintendent and an associate superintendent), and redistribute some duties to give them more time to focus on implementation of district’s new strategic plan.

* Montessori Charter School petition. District administrators are recommending that the school board reject the petition on the grounds that it is “not reasonably comprehensive” in areas including educational program, governance structure, employee qualifications, dispute resolution, facility location and operational budget.

Charter school proponents hope to open the school this fall, serving a projected enrollment of 120 students from transitional kindergarten to second grade. The school then would then grow over several years to serve students through sixth grade.

Proponents have indicated that if their petition is denied by the Davis school board, they intend to appeal to the Yolo County Board of Education and to the State Board of Education to get a charter.

* Facilities financing. On March 6, the school board heard a report from Mike Adell, director of facilities, outlining some $20 million in long- and short-term facilities needs. Like almost all California school districts, Davis put off some projects during the recent budget crisis. And the local situation is even more acute because many buildings were constructed as long as five decades ago.

The proposal before the board on Thursday calls for the district to issue certificates of participation, essentially borrowing $24 million against future property tax revenues from Community Facilities District No. 1, which covers virtually the entire school district, and Community Facilities District No. 2, which covers some comparatively new neighborhoods.

The result would be the $20 million needed to pay for roofing, portable classroom replacement, HVAC units, painting and stucco, phone systems, flooring, intercoms, fire alarm systems, parking lot projects, bleachers, classroom and office blinds, and lead abatement.

The proposal appears to be the biggest facilities package the board has considered since 2000, when Davis voters approved a $26 million facilities bond to fund construction of Harper Junior High, Montgomery Elementary and Korematsu Elementary schools, along with modernization projects at many older campuses.

The item on Thursday’s agenda outlines a three-year process for facilities upgrades, starting with $2.3 million in projects this year, $13.5 million in 2015 and $11.3 million in 2016. The information in Thursday’s agenda does not break down projects on a campus-by-campus basis.

One other item of interest: On the closed-session agenda, the board once again will discuss the possible price for the school district’s surplus properties — 8 acres on Grande Avenue in North Davis and 8 acres in Wildhorse used now as Nugget Fields. This is the third consecutive meeting at which this item has appeared on the closed-session agenda.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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