Education board approves budget

DOWNEY - The Board of Education held their annual 'board retreat' ritual Tuesday, in which the stewardship of DUSD superintendent Wendy Doty and her conduct of district affairs were appraised vis-?†-vis board polices and goals. The session was closed and lasted from 8:30-10 a.m.Apparently everything went well, nowhere more evidenced than at the regular open meeting that followed of the adoption of the proposed 2010-11 district budget, which was honeycombed the week before by the designated budget subcommittee composed of board members Don LaPlante, D. Mark Morris and Willie Gutierrez. There were no substantial departures from the budget figures obtained by this paper in advance and duly reported in its May 28 issue. The same per pupil funding of $4,931 in 2004-05, $5,097 in 2005-05, etc., and its 2,009-10 reversion to practically '04-'05 levels (see accompanying chart) is unchanged. This of course reflects the degenerating funding from the state over the course of these years, exacerbated by negative COLAs, as well as recession-caused deficits that this year alone reached $5.5 million and which seem farther from resolution than ever before. From 2008-09's unaudited actual budget outlay of some $179 million, the general fund budget this year and succeeding three years is projected to total $172 million for 2009-10, $164 million in 2010-11, $166 million in 2011-12, and $168 million in 2012-13, based on conservative estimates of ADA, available federal/state stimulus monies, use of 'flexibility' funds (use of allowable restricted-to-unrestricted funds flows), etc., given declining and likely to be used-up reserves (if nothing dramatic happens), etc. Thus the cautionary tale of further belt-tightening, increased class sizes, contraction of discretionary services/programs, etc., that stare the district in the face, at least in the immediate future. With less-burdened days of summer doubtless dancing in their heads, the Board nevertheless then sat through an agenda peppered more than usual with presentations, one or two of them arguably lengthy ones, but ones that on the whole served to inspire, rather than depress, their spirits. Marc Starkey, regional vice president of Energy Education, Inc., which has consulted with DUSD on an energy saving program for ten years, presented DUSD with the Energy Excellence Award. A closer look at this award appears elsewhere. This was followed by a facilities, construction and modernization update from Buck Weinfurter, director of maintenance, operations, and transportation services. Weinfurter reported on the completion of some $205 million plus worth of construction projects in the district, the soon-to-be finished DHS cafeteria, and additional construction (classroom and administration, and CTE auto shop) at DHS, as well as the gym/locker rooms at both DHS and WHS, and possibly a bungalow replacement for Columbia High. It's the practice, he said, for the district to spend construction funds upfront, to be matched by state funds; but today, out of $2 billion worth of statewide projects scheduled, he said only $400 million is available for spending by all districts, that $900 million has been allocated to districts ahead of DUSD, and in fact DUSD is owed $16.5 million in funds by the state. Despite this, he said, and even in the face of rising custodial supply costs, etc., DUSD has been successful in keeping maintenance/operations costs down. "The theme of MOT this year," he said, "is reduce expenditures." The state of district technology, systems and infrastructure support was delineated by Peter Mynar, information technology manager, who went over the responsibilities and services provided by DUSD's technology department, (computer networks, electronics/database administration/software development), current and planned network infrastructure, systems and data security measures, and current software development including a welcome unified work order system. (He mentioned at one point that currently in use in the district is a total of some 8,500 technology devices). Student information systems manager Raelene Kaminsky meanwhile described the impact being made by Zangle, the district-student-parent connection that tracks attendance, schedules, and a school calendar and news for elementary schedule, and, in addition, test scores, report cards, and assignments for high school students. Then it was the Assistance League's turn to make a presentation of one of its many programs, this one geared to kids called Kids on the Block. The program features puppet figures manipulated and dramatized by AL volunteers, this time led by Betty Ferraro (whose AL membership goes back 22 years) and Martha Sodetani (the newly-minted AL president whose involvement with Kids on the Block alone reaches back 15 years), to entertain and teach life lessons to elementary school, library, etc., kids. The final presentation, actually scheduled at the end of the agenda, was made by Price Elementary principal Janice Hobson, who proudly showed a chart of Price achieving an 850 API score, which earned for it recognition as one of only 484 schools statewide to achieve California Distinguished Elementary School status for 2010. She described how through the school's 'Team Up' program, which employs prompt intervention and close supervision, the whole school has steadily shown substantial progress in many areas, including the dramatic turnaround of her class of first graders whose scores lagged behind the rest of the field when she first took over the school, and, when they reached fifth grade lapped the field forthwith. (Price's 'Team Up' program has since purportedly become a model program emulated by other school districts throughout the state). In other action, the Board: *Accepted with gratitude cash donations in support of the TLC Family Resource Center, including $1,000 from the Downey Education Association, and $640.36 from CHASE, to be used in support of the instructional program at Rio Hondo Elementary School, as well as an in-kind donation of eight office chairs with an estimated value of $1,500 from Mr. and Mrs. Hector Serrano, for classroom and office use at Price Elementary School; *Ratified/approved routine district business, including the payment of convention and conference attendance as well as special education placements; purchase orders by the Purchasing Department; the issuance of payroll orders for hourly, overtime and Civic Center work performed by classified personnel, Adult School, and Food Services; B warrants covering the month of May; the agreements between Downey Adult School Career and Education Center and various groups to furnish practical experience to students enrolled in its dental and medical assistant programs; the purchase of equipment according to established purchasing policies and regulations; change orders involving the cost of consulting services for the Saturday school attendance recovery program, modernization of Downey High School buildings J/K/N & L, and frozen food products and produce for the Food Services Department; *Ratified the general agreements for fiscal year 2009-10 with DG Therapy Group and Oralingua School for the Hearing Impaired, which will provide services to special education students; *Approved Part I of the consolidated application for federal and state funding categorical aid programs (including Title I, II, III programs); *Accepted the quarterly uniform complaint report summary; *Authorized designated individuals to act as signatories for fiscal year 2010-11 effective July 1, 2010, until subsequent action by the Board; *Approved the monthly mileage allowances for 10-month, 11-month, and 12-month employees for 2010-11, at an estimated annual cost of $59,600; *Approved the purchase of specific excess workers' compensation insurance for the district's self-insured workers' compensation program for FY2010-11 (for protection against rare and potentially high cost claims) at a premium rate of $0.1048 per $100 of payroll; *Approved the FY 2010-11 cooperative agreement with ARC to hold adult special classes on portions of its premises for FY2010-11; *Approved the SFSPac food services safety and sanitation program amendment (at all sites) for FY2010-11; *Approved the student ("practice") teaching agreement with Loyola Marymount University, effective Aug. 1, 2010 though July 31, 2011; *Approved the contract with California Detection Canines for substance awareness and detection services with the help of, among other measures, non-aggressive contraband detection canines effective Sept. 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011; *Approved the advertisement for bids, renewals of bids, and award of bids, to various contractors/vendors for various products/items chargeable to different funds; while approving the use of the Palo Verde Unified School District bid (#B-080901) for piggyback purchase of flooring materials and installation by DUSD on an as-needed basis to fill orders for carpet and vinyl tile flooring, with the same advantages, terms and conditions as PVUSD's; *Accepted as complete roofing, fencing, paving, concrete, and electrical work performed by various contractors; *Authorized the Los Angeles County Office of Education to make the appropriate transfers necessary at the close of school year 2009-10 to permit payment of obligations of the district incurred during the school year, in accordance with the provisions of the Education Code (Section 42601); *Approved the destruction of Class 1, 2, and 3 disposable district records, in accordance with California Administrative Code procedures; *Approved the abolishment of positions at Warren High School (1) and Downey Adult School (4), as well as the reduction in instructional hours of a DAS instructional assistant; meanwhile approving the establishment of a number of classified positions, including three new limited-term custodial positions at Operations, as well as limited-term instructional assistants at Price Elementary and Griffiths Middle School; *Accepted the names of qualifying classified employees eligible to receive the Professional Growth Program Award covering the 5-year period ending June 30, 2010; *Ratified the memorandum of understanding between the Downey Education Association and DUSD regarding the suspension of Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) contract language (until state funding shall have been restored), as well as Appendix H (Job Share or Shared Employment Contract), which clarifies seniority precedence; *Also ratified the memorandum of understanding between the California School Employees Association (CSEA), Chapter #746, and DUSD not to open (or renegotiate) the Master Agreement for the 2010-11 school year; *Approved the successor agreement to the Master Agreement with CSEA, Unit I, Chapter 248, effective Oct. 1, 2009-Sept. 30, 2013, maintaining the previous contract in full with a few minor changes involving positions, clarification of terms, renegotiations procedures, duty hours, etc.; and *Endorsed the actions taken by the superintendent on all student cases (item nos. 82-86). The next regular public meeting of the Board of Education will be at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at the Gallegos Administration Center, 11627 Brookshire Ave.

********** Published: July 1, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 11