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Campus projects up for approval at Pleasanton school board meeting

Dozen teaching layoffs, more budget prep, Next Generation Science Standards also on tap

A handful of improvement projects and upgrades for campuses throughout the Pleasanton Unified School District will be considered at the Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday evening.

The scope of the proposed work includes new amenities at several elementary and middle schools, and going solar at Amador Valley High School. Installing new 8-foot-tall security fencing at Fairlands and Mohr elementary schools and Harvest Park Middle School would cost a combined total of $922,600 in Measure I1 school facilities bond funds; last year the board approved $1.5 million from that source for the fencing.

The district also might save a few bucks on its biggest pending project, rebuilding and modernizing classrooms at Lydiksen Elementary School. Back in July, PUSD received one bid on construction work for $21.3 million -- $6 million over budget. Cost-saving options like combining the transitional kindergarten building with the kindergarten cluster or eliminating other workspaces were reviewed but a lower bid for $14.1 million in December has made district officials consider switching.

Lydiksen rebuild plans also include the purchase of new furniture -- each classroom is estimated to cost $16,500 to $21,000 -- using the same revenue from Measure I1, which the trustees will also vote on that evening, in addition to the new bid.

Looking for even more savings, the board is set to vote on approving $650,000 in Prop 39 funds that would pay for the installation of solar systems on the Amador Valley campus, including solar panels in the parking lot facing Santa Rita Road. The entire system is expected to save the district roughly $7.8 million over the course of 25 years, according to district documents.

The board's open-session meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Tuesday at PUSD headquarters at 4665 Bernal Ave.

In other business

* The district is starting to develop its budget from the coming 2019-20 fiscal year, which the board will hear a presentation on that evening.

Several years ago, the district implemented the formation and use of a budget assumptions document with the goal to “provide guidance for the upcoming 2019-20 budget process, including key dates, planning assumptions, contextual information, and ... helpful tools and resources.” The preliminary document will be presented next month and show the “estimated impact” on the district’s 2019-20 budget.

* A dozen full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching positions are on the cutting block; five K-5 instructors, three English teachers, two P.E. teachers and two social science teaching positions are all set to be eliminated for the next school year.

According to district records, “the particular kinds of services set forth herein must be reduced or discontinued due to financial conditions” and added that “the reduction of certificated staff be achieved by the termination of regular employees and not by terminating temporary and substitute employees.”

No details were available on how much money the layoffs will save the district or which campuses are affected.

* Ideas for how to spend a one-time grant for $456,462 from the California Department of Education will be up for vote on Tuesday.

The money must be used by Nov. 1, 2021 for “pupils identified as low-performing on state English language arts or mathematics assessments." A plan for how the funds will be spent must be submitted to the state by March 1.

Trustees at the Feb. 12 meeting said they would like to see additional reading specialists and academic interventionists for those in the district’s math placement program.

* The board will receive a report on the Next Generation Science Standards program, which focuses on ushering in new science standards that highlight connections among different science disciplines as well as focusing on core ideas and practices.

Instructional material selection is underway right now as well as training related to the changes. Approximately $2 million has been budgeted for the program and additional financial information will be available once the instructional materials are selected next month. No action is planned for this item that evening.

* The proposed Board Budget Subcommittee is one step away from being finalized; the group will oversee the district’s budget, financial priorities, make recommendations to the trustees and give policy guidance.

Trustees Mark Miller and Joan Laursen, and Steve Maher as an alternate, will all serve as members. Administrators have drafted committee bylaws that will be presented on Tuesday to the board for approval.

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