7/19 Highlights: Invictus Charter Petition, Bond Refunding

Welcome to Board Watch for WCCUSD’s July 19th Board of Education meeting!

This week, our board members were presented with an update about the current bond refunding and timeline of activities. The board also voted on Invictus Academy of Richmond’s charter petition.

Click here to see the full meeting agenda.

    Agenda Item F.1
    Bond Refunding Presentation (Financial Advisors Report)

    Mr. Mount-Benites explained that two presentations were available on the agenda website. He also introduced Blake Boehm and Jon Armstrong of KNN Public Finance who presented information regarding the 2017 refunding and annual tax rate setting, tax stabilization and long term projections.

    Mr. Boehm commented about the resolution on the agenda regarding tax rate stabilization to prevent tax rate volatility and effectively manage tax rate commitment to voters. He proceeded to illustrate debt service for individual measures.

    Mr. Panas had questions regarding tracking of voter tax, tax stabilization and other conditions related to refunding. Mr. Boehm and Mr. Armstrong provided information.

    Mr. Phillips asked for additional details regarding future bond sales. Mr. Boehm provided clarification regarding remaining authorization that is accessible as well as a variety of capital facility needs outlined within the facility master plan. Mr. Phillips continued with remarks about reconstructing Stege Elementary and funds be used for rebuilding schools. Ms. LeBlanc provided information related to monthly cash flow reports detailing available bond authority, commitment to projects underway, and anticipated state funding. She also related the $3 to $5 million gap in funds needed in order to complete facilities master plan projects in current scope, with the anticipation of no remaining bond authority left. Mr. Boehm confirmed the needs outweigh the bond authority. Mr. Mount-Benites also offered information regarding Measure J funds unavailable due to tax rates and exceeding statutory maximums. Mr. Boehm provided further information regarding Measure J funds inaccessible because of capped tax rates. Mr. Phillips asked about the likelihood of a bond measure in 2018. Mr. Boehm said as a fiduciary his organization could provide tax rate reports within the financial realm but would not be involved in political campaign matters.

    President Block spoke about the benefit of presentations regarding the bond measures. She also asked about seismic funds expected, and Proposition 51 funds for low income schools. She also mentioned bond facilities staff implementing findings from the forensic audit with efforts to regain public trust.

    Board members had additional questions regarding Measure J funds, tax rates, and tax rate caps. Mr. Boehm and staff provided clarification.

    President Block asked about next steps. Mr. Boehm explained the timeline and returning to the Board at the August 9 meeting for Board approval regarding refunding bonds.

    Motion Passed: Ms. Kronenberg motioned to amend the agenda to take item G.5, the refunding resolution, next on the agenda. Mr. Panas seconded. Ms. Cuevas, Ms. Kronenberg, Mr. Panas, Mr. Phillips, and President Block voted yes, with no abstentions and no absences. Motion carried 5-0-0-0. Passed with a motion by Madeline Kronenberg and a second by Tom Panas.

    Agenda Item G.1
    Decision Hearing for Invictus Academy of Richmond Charter Petition

    Dr. Linda Delgado reviewed staff findings and recommendations. She said staff recommended approve of the charter while expressing concern about petition inadequacies. She explained the listed reasons the Board could choose to deny the charter petition, including demonstrably unlikely to carry out the petition and lacking of comprehensive descriptions, saying theses could possibly be addressed in a Memorandum of Understanding.

    Mr. Phillips asked about the staff finding of the charter demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program. Dr. Delgado provided clarification. Superintendent Duffy offered additional clarification regarding components where
    strengths and weaknesses were seen in the six areas of review and components were strengths and weaknesses were seen. Dr. Delgado affirmed evidence that the charter leadership appear in a position to implement the program.

    Ms. Cuevas asked for more information about the statute that addressed qualifications. Dr. Delgado recapped the requirement for clear qualifications. Ms. Cuevas continued with additional questions and Dr. Delgado explained judgment of staff for a responsibly comprehensive description. Ms. Cuevas suggested the appropriate conclusion would be that a high bar would lead to success of the program.

    Public Comment: Demetrio Gonzalez, Joanna Pace, Deborah Price, Lucy Alfaro, Petronila Fernandes, Rosa Mata, Tana Monteiro, Karen Norwood, Cynthia McKelvy, Janelle Ruley, Daniela Felix, Jeff Manassero, Mike Peritz, Leslie Reckler, Anthony Caro

    Mr. Panas asked Lead Charter Petitioner Mr. Thapar about parent representation on their board. Mr. Thapar responded with information regarding Family Advisory Council member to have a seat on their board. Mr. Panas continued with additional remarks from his research.

    Mr. Phillips spoke about his passion for principals and vice principals for strong school site leadership and successful schools. He spoke about the families involved and their commitment, and his concerns regarding experience in leadership of the charter school.

    Ms. Kronenberg spoke of the challenging decision before the Board and wanting the best for every child. She said she struggled with leadership at a level that children deserve and agreed with United Teachers of Richmond regarding teacher recruitment for effective teachers in light of the similar the struggle to recruit in the District.

    Ms. Cuevas spoke about failure to provide excellence for parents and children. She said she looked at facts and saw that the petition has some strength but questioned whether outcomes will be met with a sound education program. She said she could not support the petition based on her experience in seeking better education.

    President Block made points about the idea that charter funds are taken away from the District. She shared her opinion about State provided funds for students and lower expense with lower enrollment. She said she liked the Invictus’ research based approach to improve reading and math, and help students reach higher levels. She said she supported the petition for the 700 students to get a better education.

    Ms. Cuevas added that she could not agree and asked the Board to think about highest standards. She spoke of a commitment to see that District schools have the higher standards.

    Motion Failed: Mr. Panas moved to approve Invictus Academy of Richmond Charter Petition with a Memorandum of Understanding to address concerns. President Block seconded. A roll call vote was taken with Mr. Panas, and President Block voting yes, Ms. Cuevas, Ms. Kronenberg, and Mr. Phillips voting no, with no abstentions and no absences. Motion failed 2-3-0-0. Failed with a motion by Tom Panas and a second by Liz Block.

    Agenda Item G.2
    Public Hearing and Adoption of Joint Initial Bargaining Proposal with WCCUSD and Adult Education Representatives

    Mr. Whittemore asked the Board to provide opportunity for a public hearing and follow with approval of the item.
    President Block opened the public hearing. There was no public comment made for the public hearing.

    Motion Passed: Mr. Panas moved adoption of the Joint Initial Bargaining Proposal with West Contra Costa Unified School District and Adult Education Representatives. Ms. Cuevas seconded. Ms. Cuevas, Mr. Panas, Mr. Phillips, and President Block voted yes, with no abstentions and Ms. Kronenberg absent. Motion carried 4-0-0-1. Passed with a motion by Tom Panas and a second by Valerie Cuevas.

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