CUSD Holds Next To Last Meeting Of The School Year - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

CUSD Holds Next To Last Meeting Of The School Year

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Posted: Monday, June 3, 2019 3:44 pm

The Coronado Unified School District held its most recent board meeting on May 16. Only one board meeting remains during the school year.

The Board honored the outstanding service of the certificated staff Teachers of the Year. The honor is awarded for outstanding service to those who demonstrate the “ability to challenge and support students,” and to “lead, support and inspire.” Those named were: Brooke Scott, Coronado High School; Ananda Dejarnette, Coronado Middle School; Christi Teachout, ECDC/Village Elementary School; Ellen Cody, Silver Strand Elementary School and Jennifer Landry, Non-Classroom Certificated Staff.

Prior to the Action Agenda, audience comments came from two individuals who have spoken in recent meetings. First up was the director of the Baptist preschool, John Roemer. He has come to speak to the Board several times since the advent of the discussion of moving the TK/K to the Village Elementary site. In his comments this evening, he suggested that all excess space should be used to increase the number of Inter-District Transfer students into CUSD so as to alleviate financials concerns rather than relocating the TK/K to VES. The Board voted in favor of the TK/K move earlier this year.

Another community member who has been active at the meetings since the conversation of the TK/K move became active is Jacqueline Hardt. She also spoke during audience comments and requested the following: the District/Board should provide more detailed information on the formation of the TK/K move study group; the traffic study committee should also include a stakeholder from the group of current parents of early childhood students; and more detailed timeline and updates from the Superintendent’s regular report on the status of the TK/K move since, she says, Board meetings are the only opportunity to get such details.

The remainder of audience comments came at specific points on agenda Action Items, which included:

Approve Revised Salary Schedule for Adult Education Employees;

Approve the Annual Declaration of Need for Highly Qualified Educators for the 2019-2020 School Year;

Award Special Education Transportation to Zum Services;

Approve Substitute and Absence Management Software Contract with Frontline Educations;

Approval of the Adoption of the California Healthy Youth Act.

All items, with the exception of the California Healthy Youth Act adoption were approved unanimously.

The two items that generated discussion were the Special Education transportation contract and the California Healthy Youth Act.

The transportation contract generated a great deal of audience input. Two speakers came from the company that currently holds the contract, Care-A-Van, and two others were parents. The owner of Care-A-Van said that he hadn’t yet been notified that they had lost the bid, but had been notified by parents who wanted to know why. He speculated that the bid was too high. But he also added concern for the company that was being voted on to assume the contract, Zum. His concern was that it is an “uber-like company.” He added that that he understands the need of the District to save money but does not want it to be “on the backs of special needs children.”

The Director of Operations for Care-A-Van also spoke, saying that this company had been providing services to the District for the last twelve years and that one critical value that they provide is consistency of drivers for the special needs children. He said that 50 percent of the current drivers have been with the company for the entire 12 years of the contract. And, he tries to keep drivers with same children as long as possible so they do not have to adjust to different drivers.

Two parents of current special needs children also spoke in support of Care-A-Van. They indicated surprise and disappointment in the process of putting the contract out to bid and selection. And, they also expressed concern about whether Zum would be able to meet their children’s needs. One said, “We have loved Care-A-Van. They have become family, the connection my son has with these drivers.”

The issue seemed to come down to one of staff feeling confident that same or better service could be provided at a significantly lower cost. Assistant Superintendent, Donnie Salamnaca noted that the range between highest and other bids was significant - about $736,000 (for Care-A-Van) versus approximately $270,000 for those clustered at the lower end.

After questioning about how well vetted Zum has been, whether the price disparity would result in lesser service, whether the students would be safe, and even the possibility of liability claims, it turned to a discussion of the lack of funding for our special education mandates. At that, the Board seemed to fall on the side of a savings of over $400,000 being to the benefit of all students and voted unanimously to approve the new contract. 
The sole item that did not generate a unanimous vote was on the adoption of the California Healthy Youth Act. The main concern came at the last meeting from Board Trustee Esther Valdes. She also spoke on the topic at this meeting and said that she had discussed her earlier concerns with Dr. Meghan Battle from whom she learned that the education as it is implemented in Coronado is age appropriate. She added that some of her other concerns were assuaged. Nonetheless, she indicated that she would vote no because of concerns about the state legislation: “It is not comprehensive, not accurate and not unbiased … it’s not transparent and not medically accurate.” Simon pointed out that there is significant local control and that the subjects taught in Coronado are only taught in seventh and ninth grades. “I think that is a reflection of the diligence and care that our staff takes.” That vote ended in a 4:1 decision.

The next meeting will be held on June 6 in the Board Room at the CUSD offices.

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