The Southern Humboldt Unified School District had a big agenda for the regular meeting on Sept. 13.
During public comment Andy Barnett asked the district to fund a part-time music class at Redway to fill in for Paul Schmollinger's section at Redway that got lost in the scheduling shuffle. CIA had raised money to fund a year's worth of music instruction at Redway but the section got shifted to the spring semester of this year and the fall semester of next year. Barnett asked that the district fund him to cover a part-time position this semester at Redway. District board chair Dennis O'Sullivan said the community will fund it.
Saundra Stephenson said music education at Redway acts as a feeder program for the music program at South Fork. It is less successful to try to start music education, particularly with instruments, at eighth grade, she said, so they really need the music program at Redway.
Paul Schmollinger, music instructor, commented that that it was terrible to find out about the scheduling snafu right before school started. He said it seems like the program gets chopped down a piece at a time. Jennifer Kubik said to Schmollinger that the money was raised for “your program at Redway School and that's what it will be used for.”
Kubik also said Southern Humboldt Teachers Association is going to resume having monthly meetings with administration. The contract was ratified, she reported. They got a 1% increase but there is a net decrease in cost due to other factors.
Celeste Boyd presented the unaudited actual financial report. Enrollment has been higher than anticipated. This is good news financially but no one knows what will happen until after the election.
Superintendent Catherine Scott reported that there has been a lot of work on Measure L. Construction on the school within a school at South Fork began this Monday.
John Isom of Isom Advisers gave a presentation about the Measure L general obligation bond fund program and summary of sales results for the series B bonds.
Voters approved a $25.2 million general obligation bond program in June 2010. The bonds were to be sold over a 12-year period. The proceeds are to go to the renovation and modernization of schools throughout the district.
The first series of bonds were sold in September 2010 for about $8 million and the second sold in December 2011 for about $5 million. They are 30-year bonds with an average payback life of 17-1/2 years. About $12 million in bond sales remain to be sold.
The district has received a strong rating from Moody's and S&P, Isom reported. The rating agencies look at the strength of the school district but the real underlying security is the tax base. The rating is assigned on the tax base's ability to repay the bonds. The district got affirmed ratings, A+ and A1. That means the district got a better interest rate, and benefited from being in a low-interest rate environment.
Isom said it would be better to wait awhile to sell off more bonds. The passage of time creates more capacity as payoff of the current bonds occurs. If the district needs more money sooner there are bridge loans available, but they do not have such good interest rates and there are costs associated with them. The district would have to do a cost benefit analysis to decide if it would be worth it. A year from now they will look at the data again to determine if there is an appropriate issue, he said.
O'Sullivan said that board member Hoffman had asked to have a discussion on other ways of raising money for the district. The board will ask Isom to come back at another time to discuss other types of revenue streams.
Kaitlyn Teasley, student representative, reported on ASB and how good school spirit is. Homecoming is on Oct. 12 and she wants everyone there. Sports are already awesome. The other student representative, Elizabeth Kubik, was unable to attend the meeting due to illness.
On the consent agenda O'Sullivan wanted to remind everyone that Dinsmore Construction was selected for two projects, the student services building at Redway and the middle school project at South Fork.
Bill Arthur from Sanctuary Forest gave a report on the district's participation in the forbearance program at Whitethorn School. It will be about 80,000 gallons of water storage, either with one or two big steel tanks or 16 small poly tanks. The district's contribution is the soil testing and engineering that was already done. Sanctuary Forest got a grant to get an architect/engineer from Berkeley who, once vetted by the Division of State Architect, will handle the specifics.
There was a discussion about the condition of textbooks in order to pass the state required resolution on sufficiency or insufficiency of instructional materials. Scott said the state is going to change to core requirements in two years, which will require new textbooks and currently the teachers are okay with the books they have.
The district got funding from Humboldt Regional Occupation Program, four ROP funded classes and an engineering technology class and engineering math.
O'Sullivan said Aleta Sauer to be commended on her work with ROP.
The district discussed a resolution to support Prop 30 and Prop 38. Jennifer Kubik talked about the two propositions about funding schools on the November ballot. CTA says yes on Prop 30 and is neutral on Prop 38, she said. There was discussion about the relative merits and differences between the two propositions. If both pass, the one with the most votes will be the one that is adopted.
Cinnamon Paula, a Redway parent, said she has gotten involved with Educate Our State, a parent-led state-wide campaign formed to support high quality K-12 public education and demand change to accomplish this. She is forming a local chapter. Educate our State supports voting yes on both propositions.
Next the board discussed board policy about school sponsored trips and board policy about fundraising by students.
Paula said she wants the board policy to include parents and students in the decisions about what happens if students raise money for a trip and the trip is cancelled.
South Fork principal, Lisa Gray, wants the board to add some expectation about student behavior before and during trips and chaperone behavior on trips. The board discussed crafting a field trip package so all that information was easily available to each class.
Another issue is the lead-time for board approval of trips, which is not required for every field trip, but for many.
Paula urged the board to research other districts policies. Paula said that other district's policies she has looked at are more specific and could be used as a template.
It was suggested that staff and policy subcommittee and maybe the site council should begin the discussions about refining these board policies.
In the superindendent's report, Scott suggested that all the school fundraising groups, including other groups who are not specifically school fundraisers but who do contribute some proceeds of events to the schools, write a small report for each board meeting so the district can keep track. Scott and some of the board members were surprised to hear that the Merle Haggard concert was a fundraiser for the schools, for example. There was a question whether this would lead to attempts at micromanagement. But Scott just wanted the board to be able to be apprised of all the fundraising done in the name of supporting the schools.
Scott announced that the district is looking for bus drivers. There will be a bus driver training in October. They are still trying to fill some paraprofessional positions.
She signed the facilities use permit with the Ettersburg Volunteer Fire department for the Ettersburg School site.
Scott said I-pads have been purchased for kindergarten teachers for kindergarten readiness assessment. The county office developed the assessment program for kindergarten readiness that works by having the kids touch the I-pad screen and all the data gets uploaded to the county office. They are working on the wi-fi component and have the user agreement in place, Scott said.
The annual trustees meeting will be Wednesday, Oct. 24 at the Riverwalk Lodge in Fortuna.
The board needs to schedule a special board meeting to have Kevin Tedder of Semingson Architects do a presentation on all the school improvement projects. The public is encouraged to attend to see the plans.
Scott said that there is going to be a technology committee meeting. It is important that the staff is involved and they will look at spending the technology bond money is a way that is consistent across the district.
The board has moved the next regular board meeting to Oct. 18.