The Davis school board faces a short but significant agenda when trustees convene their final meeting of the 2013 year at 7 p.m. Thursday. Up for discussion are a major change in the school calendar, a collaborative agreement with Explorit Science Center, a budget report and an athletic policy update.
The last meeting of the calendar year traditionally begins with a “changing of the guard,” with the gavel passing from the current board president, Sheila Allen, to the vice president, Gina Daleiden. The president then announces committee assignments for the coming year.
The school board also will elect a new vice president, and since two-term trustees Daleiden, Allen and Tim Taylor are not expected to seek re-election next November, the pool of candidates presumably would be trustees Susan Lovenburg and Nancy Peterson. Both will be in office until November 2016.
The board also will consider whether to start the school year in mid-August. (This item was scheduled for a board meeting in November, but was postponed.) Starting the year a few weeks earlier makes it possible for junior high and high school students to take final exams before winter break, which many educators believe makes for better academic outcomes.
But there are trade-offs: Many elementary school teachers prefer a later start to the school year, and more classroom days in August means higher air-conditioning costs (an estimated $11,000 per year).
At Thursday’s meeting, trustees will be asked if they want to direct staff to pursue the option of an earlier start. A formal decision to make the change would need to be negotiated with the Davis Teachers Association and approved by the school board at a later date. If the board on Thursday opts not to explore the matter, the idea will end there.
The board also will consider a proposed agreement between the Davis school district and Explorit, which would involve the nonprofit hands-on science center making a variety of services and presentations available to Davis students and teachers at an annual cost of about $11,500. Representatives of Explorit will give a presentation, and the board may direct staff to pursue the proposed partnership through a memorandum of understanding.
The board also be asked to certify the first interim financial report. Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby notes in the agenda that “With the current economic recovery and the increase in state revenue, the Davis district’s funding is finally on the upward trend.” He expects K-12 education will be funded above the cost-of-living adjustment through the new Local Control Funding Formula.
“The district’s current ‘positive’ budget certification is based upon maintaining our existing level of programming and staff costs and spending down fund balance,” Colby says. “The district will need to develop a plan to use anticipated increases in state LCFF revenue to address deficit spending and to be able to meet the future needs and costs of the district for student programs, including employee compensation.”
Colby additionally notes that state funding levels likely will change in January, when Gov. Jerry Brown will release his proposed 2014-15 state budget.
“The budget specifics are unknown, however, the outlook for increases in local school district finances remains positive due to the state’s budget priorities as revenues start growing,” he adds.
Colby predicts that the debate over how to use any new revenue to the school district could be intense: “There are many competing priorities for increased state funding, including the new Local Control Funding Formula, paying down deferrals, funding a state budget reserve and funding for COLA and growth for other state programs.”
The agenda also includes an update on school district athletic policy. During the past two or three years, several school board meetings have been dominated by lengthy and sometimes stormy discussion — including considerable public comment — relating to several high school coaches.
Thursday’s meeting will include a brief presentation outlining the scope and depth of staff’s work on athletics policies and administrative regulations. According to the agenda summary, “The primary areas for policy development and/or refinement are coach selection criteria/process, evaluation criteria/process, coach term of employment, role of the head coach — varsity, junior varsity, frosh — the role of the athletic director, the athletics complaint process, and the coaches’ code of conduct.”
The presentation also will include a timeline for the processes associated with the development of these policies and procedures.
Thursday’s 7 p.m. meeting will take place in the Community Chambers at Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. The meeting will be carried live on Davis cable Channel 17 and as streaming video at www.djusd.tv.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8055. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffHudsonDE