School board hears updates on budget, modernization

DOWNEY - With most teachers and students gone for the summer and the excitement of high school graduation over, the Downey Unified School District Board of Education Tuesday heard updates on the budget, modernization at Downey High School, state standards-aligned elementary report cards, and student intervention efforts.It also witnessed the conferring of the Vision Award to JoAnn Sims, senior director of budget and finance. To no one's surprise, the district will operate in 2009-10 with a further budget cut of $6.5 million (from $180 million in 2008-09 to roughly $173 million), said Kevin Condon, asst. superintendent for business services. This is in addition to the projected operational deficit of $2.9 million in 2008-09. However, these deficits will be offset by injections from DUSD's share of federal stimulus funds. Add to these offsetting funds the various savings here and there as a result of continuing conscious efficiency measures district-wide, buttressed by accumulated reserves due to the district's fiscal discipline, and the district can face the immediate future in a more enviable position than a great many school districts across the state. In fact, it is hoped that the district's September budget revise will show an accumulated deficit of "only" $4 million. In any event, said Condon, if figures and economic conditions stay on their present course, the district should be prepared for a worst-case deficit scenario of some $9 million by 2012. He's optimistic, however, that things should turn around by then. The accompanying 'master plan' schematic shows the new configuration of Downey High School when its modernization program is completed. The objective of the rearrangement, said Maintenance, Operations and Transportation director Buck Weinfurter, is to achieve 'functionality' - student-friendly classrooms and facilities and the provision of more open spaces. "Everything should flow," he said, with nothing hindering teacher or student or campus visitor from easy access to one's intended destination or activity (with safety a paramount concern, of course). Weinfurter echoed principal architect Paul Westberg's elucidation of the master plan, which features a more centralized drop-off round-a-bout and library, lots of ground-floor and second-floor classrooms, and a "steel-framed" (to signify solidity) CTE automotive building. Elementary Education director Denise Takano traced the five-year progress of the district's standards-based elementary report card system, the leading reason why she was hired by the district, she said. Starting from scratch, Takano said her team developed guidelines, procedures, assessment techniques, and the technology that assured complete alignment with state standards in reporting student grades. "Its physical appearance alone," she said, "places it above other report cards." Robert Jagielski, director of pupil services, was equally upbeat about his program of student intervention. He pointed to the steadily declining '03-'04 to '08-'09 figures in suspensions as well as the significant reductions in expulsion referrals today versus five years ago, a tribute, he said, to the close collaboration among scores of concerned individuals and the various support groups (10-20 Club, Character Counts, Gangs Out of Downey, ASPIRE, police on campus, Amer-I-Can, SARB, TLC, etc.) operating in Downey, and to the philosophy of giving the [floundering] kids a second chance. Recipient of the superintendent's Vision Award for budget and finance was senior director for budget and finance JoAnn Sims, who came aboard at the district a second time in 2005, after she finished her bachelor's in business administration (1990) from the University of Redlands and her MBA (2000) from National University. Condon said he's impressed by her ability to manage both people and budgets, which is a "delicate and difficult combination." What's more, he said, she has a "rare blend of professional skills and human warmth and openness." In other action, the Board: *Accepted with gratitude cash and in-kind donations from various individuals and organizations/groups, including $1,000 from T & F Sheet Metal for the 8th grade picnic at West Middle School, and various amounts/donations from United Way, Starbucks, and Pina Pizza benefiting various programs at Rio Hondo and Williams Elementary Schools, and West Middle School; as well as cash donations of $1,849.85 from Rio San Gabriel Elementary, $650 from Kiwanis Club of Downey, $650 from Warren High, $625 from Unsworth Elementary, $455.25 from Imperial Elementary, $200 from Katherine M. and Souhail Y. Israwi, $100 from Jerilyn King-Brown, $100 from Peter S. and Karen S. Nadell, and $100 from Price Elementary, to be used in support of the TLC Family Resource Center; *Approved the payment of expenses for convention and conference attendance; *Approved the payments for special education placements; *Approved Part I of the consolidate application for funding categorical aid programs, and authorized the application to the State Department of Education; *Accepted the quarterly uniform complaint report summary; *Authorized the signatories, as presented, to become effective July 1, 2009, and to remain in effect until subsequent action is taken by the Board of Education; *Approved the monthly mileage allowances for ten-month, eleven-month, and twelve-month employees for 2009-10, as submitted, at an estimated annual cost of $60,570; *Approved purchase orders by the Purchasing Department; *Approved the purchase of specific excess workers' compensation insurance for the 2009-10 fiscal year, from Safety National Insurance Company, at a premium rate of $0.1270 per $100 of Payroll; *Ratified the agreements between Downey Adult School (DAS) Career and Education Center and Marquez Family Dentistry, Teresita Pabalan, DMD, Inc., and Perfect Smile of Dr. Ramon Rahimi, to furnish practical experience to students enrolled in the Dental Assistant program; between DAS and Michael B. Scott, M.D., Inc., to furnish practical experience to students enrolled in the Medical Assistant program; and between DAS and Elizabeth McShane, M.D., to furnish practical experience to students enrolled in the Medical Billing & Coding program; *Approved the one-year safety agreement for food safety inspections by the L.A. County Department of Health; *Ratified the contract with L.A.. County Office of Education (LACOE) to reimburse administrative costs related to California Medical Assistance program 2008-09; *Ratified the contracts with LACOE to reimburse administrative costs related to California Medical Assistance program 2008-09, for WorkAbility Program Training Services (ROP), and for PeopleSoft Financial Systems FY2009-10; *Approved the change orders involving work done by various vendors/service companies as needed by the Food Services Department, Downey Adult School, Special Education Department, and for the Warren High modernization (Phase 3: Bldgs. O, P, Q, R, and S)); *Accepted as complete electrical, roofing, fencing, paving, and concrete work performed by various contractors; *Approved the use of the master agreement between the county of Los Angeles and Xerox Corporation, for photocopy equipment on an as needed basis, by DUSD; *Renewed the annual contract with McCullah Fence of Bell Gardens for fencing work, representing the fourth year of a five-year optionally renewable period; and approved the renewals of bids by various other contractors/suppliers, whose products and services are to be used mainly by Maintenance and Food Services; *Authorized LACOE to make the appropriate transfers necessary at the close of the 2008-09 school year to permit payment of obligations incurred by the district for the period, in accordance with Section 42601 of the Education Code; *Approved the adjustments (increase/decrease to the fund balance) in the 2008-09 General Fund unrestricted and restricted budgets, as well as in the Adult Education and County School Facilities Fund restricted budgets; *Approved the destruction of Class 1, 2, and 3 disposable district records, and appointed Katrina Juarez-Lorenzetti, clerical assistant, as document destruction coordinator; *Approved routine Personnel items until subsequent action is taken by the Board; *Approved the abolishment of one vacant 6-hour Instructional Assistant at DAS, one vacant Senior Instructional Assistant position at Carpenter Elementary, four Child Care Assistant positions at Alameda and Unsworth Elementary, and two 6-1/2 hour Senior Instructional Assistant positions, one at Griffiths Middle School and another at West Middle School; *Ratified the establishment of four new Senior Instructional Assistant-level positions (for the severely-handicapped, behaviorally-challenged, etc.) for assignment to Sussman Middle School, Rio Hondo Elementary, Alameda Elementary, and Warren High; of two Senior Accounting Assistant-level positions, for Financial Services; of new limited-term positions, to be assigned as needed, with Intermediate Clerical Assistant-level duties and classification; of three new limited-term positions with Lead Custodian-level classification; *In the meanwhile approved the changes to the duties of Lead Custodian, as well as those of Utility Worker; *Approved payment of those classified employees deemed eligible to receive the Professional Growth Award for the 5-year period ending June 30, 2009; *Endorsed the actions taken by the Superintendent on all student cases; and *Approved the waivers for student petitions No. 200809-CAHSEE-037 to No. 200809-CAHSEE-044. The next meeting of the Board will be at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29 in the Gallegos Administration Center, 11627 Brookshire Ave.

********** Published: July 3, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 11