Construction underway at Downey High

DOWNEY - The Downey Unified School District's director of maintenance, operations, and transportation services Buck Weinfurter reported in Tuesday's Board of Education meeting that the district construction schedule this summer includes the completion of two buildings (to replace the old Downey High School administration building along Brookshire Avenue) as well as a new Career and Technology Education auto facility, also at Downey High, even as he decried the state's inability or inaction to release funds it still owes the district.He said funds amounting to $3.5 million are still needed for the projects. Replacing the entire electrical system at Columbus High is about 80 percent complete, Weinfurter said, and other projects are waiting in the wings. For example, some bungalows (used as temporary classrooms) are showing their age: designed to have an effective service life of 20 years, the majority are nearing 50 years of use; only seven, he said, need no repairs. Aging pipes that run beneath the schools also will need attention, he said, not to mention some new regulation that storm drains at school sites should not spill over to adjoining streets. These are some of the infrastructure concerns that DUSD faces, Weinfurter said, "if the district were to repair the schools." Dolefully he said, "To do this, we'll need $60 million from the state." In other action, the board also approved the new formulation of the district's mission and vision statements, the most significant addition being an added emphasis on character development. Otherwise, the statements' intent and tone, reflecting subtle deletions or additions of key words and phrases, remain essentially unchanged. The basic goal of the district, however, remains the same: "To provide the highest quality education in a safe, trustworthy environment, to utilize the resources of the home, school, and community, and to maximize the achievement of all students." The board's stated goals for the school year 2011-12 include, among other significant objectives, an emphasis on encouraging parent participation, through various means, in the success of the student(s); development of a transitional kindergarten program for implementation in 2112-13; revision of the district's technology plan; close monitoring and control of costs and maximizing budgetary flexibility to adapt to the continued underfunding of K-12 education by the state and federal government; and the streamlining of procedures and maximizing efficiency in the purchasing department and the warehouse, including records scanning, records storage, warehouse inventory, and transporting of testing materials. Also noteworthy was the board's approval of the extended employment contracts for the superintendent, asst. superintendent of business services and the asst. superintendent of instructional services. Boardmember Don LaPlante hastened to emphasize, for the record, that there was no mention of any "pay raise" in the contracts. The board also approved the memoranda of understanding between DUSD and the California School Employees Association (CSEA) as well as the Downey Education Association (DEA), whose membership consists of certificated personnel. Meanwhile, the board ratified the rest of the consent agenda, including: the acknowledgment of cash and in-kind donations from various parties; payments for convention/conference attendance, agreements with outside entities for a variety of special services; special education placements; purchasing department purchases; B warrants; bid renewals as well as completed miscellaneous work by various contractors; routine personnel matters; and the endorsement of the superintendent's actions on a few student cases.. The next public meeting of the Downey Board of Education will be on Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 5 p.m. at the Gallegos Administration Center, 11627 Brookshire Ave.

********** Published: July 28, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 15