After sustaining a series of financial blows delivered by the state of California, the Coronado Unified School District’s Board of Trustees heard some rare, favorable economic news during their meeting of Thursday, May 21, 2015. According to CUSD Asst. Superintendent of Business Services Dr. Keith Butler, Governor Jerry Brown’s latest budget proposal indicates the district won’t have to use $3.4 million from pass through funds over the next two years to balance their budget.
“The May Revise (of the proposed state budget) will eliminate that almost to the dollar,” Butler said. “If the budget gets enacted, we will be in a much better position. Indications are the Senate and the Assembly are going along with this. According to the legislative analyst’s office, more money may come in. For us, the No. 1 thing was to get out of being a qualified district. We have kicked the can down the road for a couple of years.”
Lest you think the state is being kind-hearted and sharing the influx of revenue flowing into its coffers, most of the ‘increase’ is actually a repayment to school districts. When the state scrambled to create a balanced budget after the onset of the 2008 Recession, funding to education was one of the programs that was particularly hard-hit.
Metaphorically speaking, the other side of the coin is that the Coronado school system is currently $1,250 per student (the district has approximately 3,200 students) behind the state average due to the state’s Local Control of Funding Formula (LCFF). The state has increased funding to districts that have faced educational challenges in past years, at the expense of more well-to-do districts. Butler added, “Then it grows to $1,500 per student and locks in there.”
However not all of the financial news was positive, as the school district is facing major repairs to the swimming pool facility located on the Coronado High School campus. Recent tests conducted by local resident Rick Davy of Rick Davy Architects has found the concrete around the pool deck is deteriorating due to the concrete being porous and there being an excess of moisture in the material. Davy also noted that one of the pool deck drains doesn’t function properly because it was never connected to the facility’s main drain. Deep and wide cracks have been found on the underside of the pool deck, some as wide as one-eighth of an inch. Davy summarized the situation by saying, “Most all of the deck has deterioration.”
CUSD Superintendent Dr. Jeff Felix is recommending a full deck replacement for the pool, which will close the facility between August 1 and November 1. According to the agenda packet for the May 21 meeting, full replacement of the pool deck is estimated to cost $1.2 million. The report added, “The cost would be paid from the Special Reserve Fund for Capital Outlay Projects. Separately, the Board of Trustees is evaluating its options regarding potential litigation to recover as much of this cost as is possible.”
During the ‘Comments from Board Members’ portion of the agenda, Trustee Ledyard Hakes discussed his decision to resign from the Board, a decision which fortunately did not include health issues. Hakes, a cancer survivor said, “I have taken over the family business and that is a challenge at my age. You hope at the end of the day you have done something that is appreciated. I want to thank everybody for supporting me and what I believe in for our schools.” Hakes’ resignation is effective June 30, 2015, at which time he will have served on the CUSD Board of Trustees for five years.
In a related issue, Felix suggested to the board that the vacant seat be filled via appointment rather than by a special election, which would cost the district between $185,000 and $235,000. Felix explained the process, “At our June 25 meeting, there will be people sitting in the front row and you (the Board members) will have to raise your hand and make them a member after questioning. There can be multiple rounds of voting. If we don’t vote, it goes to the County Office of Education July 10 and there is an automatic election.” Hakes cannot participate in the election process.
After the June 16 deadline for filing has passed, Felix and Trustee Lee Pontes will review the applicants to make sure they meet the qualifications for the position, which are set by state code. Trustee Lou Smith said, “This is an unfortunate process that is no different from the city appointing a port commissioner or for appointment to committees. Unfortunately we have to do it.” The appointment will run for 18 months, until new Board members are installed after the General Election of 2016. Pontes and Smith both encouraged applicants to come forward and apply for the position.
In other CUSD Board actions:
• School Board Student Representative Lauren McBride said the May 21 meeting would be her last in that position and that next year newly elected ASB President Cheyne Ostrander would represent the CHS student body on the Board. As has become the custom in recent years, Board President Dawn Ovrom presented McBride with a sweatshirt from the college she will be attending in the fall. McBride will matriculate to Emory University in Atlanta.
• Pontes acknowledged the coming retirement of Capt. Ken Ireland as the head of the NJROTC Program at CHS, which Pontes founded. “I want to thank Capt. Ireland for taking really good care of the program. He started with 47 students and grew it to as many as 120. And they are one of the Top 5 units out of the 170 schools in Southern California and Arizona.”
• At the outset of the meeting, the Board honored the District’s Classified Employee of the Year Angelica Paredes, who is an accountant at the District office. Others receiving recognition at the individual school sites as being their Classified Employee of the Year included Frankie Guillen from Silver Strand Elementary School, Rachel Lozano from Village Elementary, and Diane Jackson from Coronado Middle School.
The CUSD Board will be holding a Special Board Meeting Thursday, June 4, 2015, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The next Regular Board Meeting will be held Thursday, June 18, 2015, at 4 p.m. CUSD Board meetings are held at the District Office located at 201 Sixth Street in Coronado.