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.