August 2, 2006

School Bond Increased to $109 Million with a Smaller Tax Rate

The August 1, 2006, meeting of the San Leandro School Board began with the announcement that Robin Michelle had been hired as the Communication Outreach Specialist during closed session and will start on August 14, 2006. She replaces Barbara Reynolds, who had been appointed on December 6, 2005. The position was advertised on Craigslist the District's web site.

All members of the board were present.

After unanimously approving the agenda, Wendy Ponder, Assistant Director of Categorical Programs, ran through a PowerPoint presentation entitled "EL Program Update" about the English Learners Master Plan which will be piloted at Jefferson, Washington, and Wilson schools next year for K-3. The exact scope of the program was unclear, but it appeared that the goal was to have the students literate in Spanish and English by the third grade. One of the slides read, "When 15% or more of the student population at the school site speak a single primary language other than English, all notices, reports, statements, or records sent to the parent or guardian of any such pupil by the school or school district are, in addition to being written in English, written in the primary language(s). [Ed Code 48985]" Accordng to Ms. Ponder, for San Leandro, that language is Spanish. The goal is to eventually extend the program to 4th and 5th grade as well.

After Ms. Ponder's presentation, Trustee Stephen Cassidy asked about documentation of its effectiveness and Ponder responded that she would get some more information to the Board. Trustee Linda Perry noted that Ponder had done a great job and she invited other Board members to attend District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) meetings.

Then it was on to discussion of the bond. Based on feedback from the July 18, 2006 meeting, Ruth Alahydoian of Kelling Northcross & Nobriga reviewed all of the previous information to come up with a revised recommendation for the bond amount. Her recommendations were for an authorization amount of $109 million, a tax rate of $39 per $100,000 of assessed value with assessed value growth of 5% from 2007 to 2020 and 4% after 2020. The bonds would be issued as follows: $27 million on March 1, 2007 at 5.25%, $25 million on August 1, 2009, at 5.50%, $25 million on August 1, 2011 at 5.75%, and $32 million on August 1, 2013 at 6%. All of the bonds would be for 25 years except the $32 million of bonds.

Based on this information, the district came up with allocating the extra $5.5 million as follows: $0.9 million to restore the original estimate of $4.8 million for painting classrooms, $1.5 million to restore the original estimate of $3 million for renovating the industrial arts building, $0.6 million to renovate and modernize the former SLAM area, and a financial safeguard of $2.5 million.

Trustee Ray Davis asked if there was any advantage to extending the first three series of bonds to 30 years and Alahydoian said that there was not. Perry commented that given how well the 1997 bond estimate went, she was comfortable with the tax rat of $39 per $100,000 of assessed value. Cassidy noted that in one year, the tax rate for the 1997 bond was actually $29, well under the original estimate.

During public comments, Dan Walters, previous president of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, said that the "Board [of the Chamber] is supportive of the process" and was unanimous in its support.

Tom Silva of the Rental Housing Owners Association of Southern Alameda County (RHO) told the Board "thank you for all your efforts" but cautioned that there was a lot of work ahead to convince those without children in the school district to vote in favor of the bond. Silva promised that the "RHO will do what it can to make this happen."

Gerald Shovlin thanked the previous speakers for their expressions of support and noted that the effort from the Board seemed much more serious this time than for Measure A.

The Board then voted unanimously to adopt the text to place on the November 7, 2006, bond, formally known as Resolution 06-33, San Leandro Unified School District Facility Improvement Bond.

During public testimony on non-agenda items, Republican candidate for State Senate Lou Filipovich spoke up even though he had not filled out a yellow speaker's card. Board President Pauline Cutter tried to silence him a number of times, but Filipovich's voice won out and he accused the Board of violating procedures by failing to close public hearing on the bond before voting on it. After a few minutes, Filipovich had said his peace and returned to his seat.

I missed approval of the consent calendar, but everything is normally approved, so the following things were probably approved:

  • the personnel report
  • the renewal of the Student Teaching Agreements between the District and Saint Mary’s College.
  • contract award for Bid Package #06-08, Window Replacement at Madison Elementary Repair Phase II, to Coulter Construction.

It was interesting to see that the Republican candidate for State Assembly, Jill Buck, was at the meeting and offered her help to Deborah Cox and Leroy Smith in working for passage of the bond. Katy Murphy, a reporter for the Daily Review, was also present at the meeting and interviewed Cox and Smith, who are co-chairs of Citizens for San Leandro Schools.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at August 2, 2006 1:50 AM | TrackBack
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