The Pleasanton Unified School District passed a recent audit for management of Measure I1 bond funds with flying colors, according to the Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee tasked with completing the annual review.
Expenditures for more than half a dozen Measure I1-funded projects were scrutinized in the report, which will be presented at the Board of Trustees' regular meeting on Tuesday night, starting 6 p.m. in the PUSD headquarters, 4556 Bernal Ave.
In 2016, Pleasanton voters approved the $270 million bond measure, which levies an annual property tax of $49 per $100,000 of assessed value on local homeowners to pay for renovations, upgrades and modernization projects at all 15 PUSD sites. Another $323 million bond initiative for similar purposes called Measure M will be on the March 3 primary election ballot.
Expenditure reports reviewed by the committee found that the district “is in compliance with the requirements of Article XIIIA, Section 1(b) (3) of the California Constitution” and “bond proceeds have been expended only for the purposes set forth in the ballot measure,” according to Arne Olson, committee chair.
The scope of the audit focused on the first bond issuance for about $70 million of budgeted Measure I1 projects, including the Lydiksen Elementary School rebuild that broke ground on construction last Friday and future portable classroom replacements at Foothill and Amador Valley high schools.
Of the seven projects audited, the "21st Century Learning Environments" category used the most funds at 28.9%. Modernizations, renovations and replacements took just over a quarter (25.2%), followed by safety and security (16.5%), a study of the planned new “E10” school at Donlon Elementary (13%), the Lydiksen rebuild (11.1%), and payoffs for certificates of participation (5.3%).
The board will hear a report that evening about Measure I1 funds used to finish upgrading the entire voice over internet protocol (VOIP) network for district-wide phone and voicemail service. Network cabling in classrooms and offices throughout the district needs upgrading before new clocks, phones, bells and public announcement speakers can be installed, according to PUSD.
The first phase of the project, which involved adding new switching and inter-building cabling, started last spring and is almost finished at all sites.
The district “anticipates significant operating cost savings from the general fund” of about $70,000 annually as a result of transitioning their telecommunications infrastructure, according to staff. Phone services for PUSD currently cost around $120,000 each year.
Administrators also received an e-Rate grant “to offset approximately $468K of the Measure I1 costs that were associated with the Phase 1 Network upgrade project,” and added that “anticipated costs for the VOIP project are lower than were estimated.”
Vaping sensors that utilize “Internet of things” (IoT) devices, which would require physical network cabling to provide power and network to the endpoints, have also been requested for installment in PUSD middle and high school restrooms. The district said there is no increase in Measure I1 budgets for the VOIP or telecom/network upgrades projects anticipated from an expansion of project scope.
One-time costs for the second phase of the telecom and network project are anticipated to be between $9.5 million and $10 million. The final project costs will be presented at the March 10 board meeting.
In other business
Among the consent agenda items for Tuesday, the trustees will consider a proposed policy regarding students’ use of mobile communication devices.
Students would be allowed to “use cell phones, smart watches, pagers, or other mobile communication devices on campus during non-instructional time as long as the device is utilized in accordance with law and any rules that individual school sites may impose.”
Cellphones would need to be turned off or set to “Do not disturb” during class time but special accommodations for a student’s health plan or individualized education program could be made.
The policy also states that “when a school official reasonably suspects that a search of a student's mobile communication device will turn up evidence of the student's violation of the law or school rules, such a search shall be conducted” in accordance with the district’s search and seizure policy.
But according to the California Electronic Privacy Act (CEPA), which went into effect four years ago, no government entity, including school districts, may legally “access electronic device information by means of physical interaction or electronic communication with the electronic device” without a signed warrant, wiretap order, subpoena, or the express consent of the device’s owner.
The law does allow an exception for emergencies, which are defined as a situation “involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person (that) requires access to the electronic device information.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California’s website also states that schools cannot require students to sign a waiver allowing faculty to search their phone at any time, and that students may refuse to show their phone content including text messages, pictures and social media usage to administration.
CEPA also prohibits government officials from searching mobile devices, even if a student causes a disruption with their phone, breaks a school rule or uses their phone when they’re not supposed to. According to the ACLU, school officials may not search a student’s phone to investigate another student’s misconduct either.
PUSD has not replied yet to request for comment as of noon Monday.