School board reviews funding sources for new campus on Donlon site

Also: New high school courses, retirement incentives, audio-visual pilot

The Pleasanton school board has selected the Donlon property for the placement of a new school. Currently the concept is referred to as "Elementary School No. 10." (Image courtesy of PUSD)

As part of first steps toward building a second campus on the Donlon Elementary School property -- now referred to by district staff as "Elementary School No. 10" -- the Pleasanton school board has begun reviewing options for how it will it pay for the estimated $61.25 million project.

At an informational session with no decision made Tuesday night, the trustees discussed an initial option to allocate funds from the district's Sycamore Fund 40 and Capital Fund 40 for the building of the new school, a move that would deplete both funds.

"I'm reluctant (to deplete the Sycamore Fund). That has been our safety net for a long time, so its conceivable, or certainly reasonable, that we might want to spend some of it down. But I would really hate for it to go to zero," Trustee Joan Laursen said at the regular board meeting. "If we did, I would like for us to consider increasing contributions because we would have no other fail-safe."

Approved in concept at the board's Dec. 18 meeting, Elementary School No. 10 would be designated for approximately 500 fourth- and fifth-grade students and cost an estimated $54.53 million for construction.

The existing campus on the Donlon property is planned to be converted into a transitional kindergarten through third-grade school with a projected enrollment of 700 students and an estimated renovation cost of $380,000.

An additional $6.34 million has been identified by district staff for traffic mitigation in the area, but deputy superintendent of business services Micaela Ochoa said that would best be funded through other sources such as local partners.

"I don't quite feel the same way with the Sycamore Fund," Board President Valerie Arkin said, countering Laursen's remarks. "I know it's been our safety net ... but it's a-sale-of-property fund so it's kind of what the purpose of those funds has been used for."

Allocating finances from Sycamore Fund 40 would provide the district with $7,177,080 and Capital Fund 40 would add an additional $3.9 million. When combined with $3,480,169 in developer fees and the $35 million from Measure I1 -- the facilities bond approved by district voters in 2016 -- the PUSD would have $49,557,249 to work with.

While short of the estimated $61.25 million needed for the entire project, district staff reminded the board and residents that the current design is a concept and staff will look for an architect who will be able to cut costs through "value engineering."

"I'm not suggesting that any one of those strategies is the right strategy. My advocacy is that we maintain a position of always putting all of the options on the table and then slowly walking back the options one by one until we get to the one that works best for us," Superintendent David Haglund said. "We need to be able to say that we did our due diligence."

A final decision on where to acquire funding has not been made and the district will look to continue reviewing its options at its regular meeting on Feb. 12, during which staff will look to recommend a financial plan for action.

In other business

* The board reviewed a series of eight new courses and seven revised course outlines, but postponed a final decision on the new slate of classes proposed by district staff, who are working to anticipate students academic needs and desires for the 2019-20 school year.

The eight new courses pertain only to high school students: cyber security, calculus, honors aerospace, honors civil engineering and architecture, honors digital electronics, honors human body systems, honors medical interventions and honors principles of engineering.

The seven revised course outlines include: reading and language, high school English, AP U.S. history, AP macroeconomics, AP human geography, AP psychology and African American literature.

Revised course outlines will be used for grades nine through 12 -- with the exception of reading and language, which would be used in middle school special day class.

After reviewing the courses, trustees voted to hold over the package as a consent item for its next scheduled meeting. They plan to consider final approval of the new course descriptions then.

* To start off the meeting, the board took time to recognize Pleasanton high school students Ellen Ebbers, Zara Fatteh, Sander Head and Paulina Umansky for their designation as 2018's recipients of the Juanita Haugen Memorial Scholarships.

The students were honored by the Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative for best reflecting the scholarship's key principles of compassion, honesty, respect, responsibility, integrity and self-discipline. Each student received $1,000 from the scholarship fund for their efforts to promote these principles and improve their community.

* After brief discussion trustees unanimously approved a waiver appointing Kelsey Kemp as the district's new behavioral specialist.

* Representatives from Cossolias, Wilson, Dominguez and Leavitt presented the board with its independent financial audit report for the 2017-18 fiscal year, as well as PUSD's 2017-18 Measure I1 performance and financial audits report.

* In an effort to incentivise early notifications from employees planning to retire, trustees approved allocating up to $10,000 in one-time funding for both certificated non-management and certificated management employees who alert the district of their intent to retire.

Now up to 10 employees who submit a retirement request no later than Feb. 15 will receive a $1,000 bonus, so long as their effective retiring date is no later than June 30, 2019. The 10 employees will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

* Certified public accountant Lewis Liu was appointed by the board to serve a 1.5-year term on the district's Board Audit Committee.

* District staff presented a report on the finer points of newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom's first budget proposal and how it differs from the mindset and priorities of his predecessor, Jerry Brown.

* Trustees established a Board Budget Subcommittee that will be comprised of trustees Laursen and Mark Miller, vice president Steve Maher will serve as an alternate.

* At staff's recommendation, the board approved purchasing new equipment for schools as a part of its 21st century classroom audio-visual pilot program at a total cost of $84,000 from Measure I1 funds.

Select locations at all school sites -- with the exception of Valley View and Lydiksen elementary schools -- will be equipped with Aver interactive flat panels, an interactive audio visual screen meant to enhance teaching and learning.

* A consent agenda item, trustees approved increasing the per-mile reimbursement rate for employees, increasing the dollar amount received from 54.5 cents per mile to 58 cents.

* Trustees approved the allocation of $53,000 from the instructional materials adoption fund, to pay for the purchase of new educational materials for AP human geography courses.

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Like this comment
Posted by highdiver
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 19, 2019 at 4:14 pm

I wonder if the EPA is aware that the Donlon field site is a gathering place for hundreds of seagulls during bad weather.

Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 19, 2019 at 7:27 pm

What a waste of an opportunity.

3 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 25, 2019 at 6:44 pm

What a slippery cast of characters running the PUSD, not 1 more dime for those clowns!!
I’m pretty sure I saw an endangered Whip Snake slithering around that proposed mini-school site.

3 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 25, 2019 at 7:04 pm

That "endangered white snake slithering around the proposed mini-school site", was the PUSD board in disguise.

3 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 26, 2019 at 9:05 am

James Michael is a registered user.

A slippery cast of criminals would be a more apt description. They are going to make a traffic nightmare in the Val Vista area and no matter how much is spent on traffic mitigation its not gonna mitigate anything. I find it hard to believe that the city would be on board with this...well, maybe not. I'll bet this wouldn't happen in one of the more affluent neighborhoods.

6 people like this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 28, 2019 at 10:38 am

The district is having trouble attracting qualified staff, administrators, substitutes and other critical personnel as well as funding a new mini school and they want to add AP Aerospace? Glad to see priorities are in order.

2 people like this
Posted by Pleasant Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 29, 2019 at 12:01 am

Dont give it any sense of credibility by calling it a new school when its just adding 4th and 5th grade classrooms.

4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 29, 2019 at 10:04 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

This is by no means an ideal solution to growing enrollment. This is definitely the result of kicking the can down the road over and over again. This is not, however, Dr. Haglund’s fault (nor some on the board). Some finally have decided that digging the hold deeper was not a solution and are now trying to climb out of said hole.

So, take the allotted $35MM and give me a different solution. (I would give you the whole estimated $61MM, but it doesn’t exist in reality and it’s a ridiculous estimate anyway.). The solution has to be the least disruptive to the majority of the community; has to address growth in the north where it is occurring; and has to get the nearly 200 students back into their neighborhood schools.

1 person likes this
Posted by Question
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2019 at 3:41 pm

Along with reviewing funding sources, I would like the PUSD and DUSD to figure out if that suspended 2020fight Twitter account associated with spreading the fake news about Covington Catholic that has been tweeting 130 tweets a day and claims to be a Bay Area middle school teacher works for the District.

This article says that Eric Swalwell has in the past spread tweets of 2020fight; therefore, I would seriously like to know if this is a teacher in this District and if so, how he/she can find the time during the school day to tweet 130 times a day.

In addition, I would like to know why the cabinet and superintendent and principals seem to spend an excessive amount of time tweeting when they should be running the schools.

Here is the article referencing the connection between Swalwell and the 2020fight account.

Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 30, 2019 at 9:32 am

Still seems odd that any future residential building will occur in the northeast of ptown yet they want to build a mini almost a school in the northwest with money they don’t have enough of?? Is this the best we can expect from the PUSD?? Why are we even giving them pay raises, it’s certainly not based on their performance.

Like this comment
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 31, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Flightops is a registered user.

So far it seems like the only thing going on with that measure I1 money was to buy a big expensive pile of laptops for the kids, haven’t seen much of anything else happening besides lots of complaining that 35 million of that money won’t be enough to build a full size school let alone a mini-school as proposed for the Donlon site. I say drag it out for a couple of more years and keep whittling away that original 270 million bond money so there won’t be anything to show for it and we can pass a new and even larger bond with the same promises. Hopefully the administrators didn’t get raises from that bond money?????????

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 31, 2019 at 3:13 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Flightops, you will eventually see the rebuild and tear down of Lydiksen. It doesn’t add capacity and was the wrong place to start with bond dollars (and the bids came in well over the $30MM for that plan).

There already are plans in the works for a new bond in 2020.

Raises do not come out of bond dollars, but the raises continue to increase district pension contributions and both raises and pensions are used as reasons there isn’t sufficient funding to operate new facilities.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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