Of the 5 Board members, Tony Thurmond was absent.

Consent Items

I arrived late, at 7:55, because of a family emergency, so I missed the beginning of the agenda. The main item I was looking for was this resolution:

*CI C.12 Resolution 90-0809, Governing Board of the WCCUSD to Become Subject to Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act (UPCCAA or the “Act”)

I was told it passed, but it didn’t seem that it was pulled for discussion.

According to the packet, it will allow contracts at a higher amount to be let without competitive bidding — a convenience for those in power, but something that should raise an eyebrow for those who aren’t in power. Hopefully, it will be on the Bond Oversight Committee agenda, so it’s implications can be discussed. Here’s the State FAQ.


Ivy League Connection

At least once a year, Charles Ramsey goes into overdrive and takes over a school board meeting completely to stage (and emcee) a spectacle to celebrate himself…I mean everyone connected with the Ivy League Connection. ILC, on its surface, is just a program to familiarize WCCUSD students with different Ivy League schools 3000 miles away, but the other aspects of IVC require a separate posting. This would cover:

  1. The potential role of the program as a political machine for Mr. Ramsey and his friends
  2. The spending of $70,000 by the District to, among other things, fly Ramsey and Kronenberg out to some of the summer sessions in the midst of the greatest financial crisis for schools in recent memory
  3. The effort to do brand-building work for Ivy League schools
  4. The focus on sending a few kids to what some would consider elite colleges in a District where graduation itself is an issue

Anyway, after an hour, the Board could get back to other business. [Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting any of the kids themselves should turn their noses up at this kind of opportunity if available.]

Budget Report Updates

Sheri Gamba, Business Services, walked through a brief presentation detailing how things have continuously gotten worse in terms of the deficit. It’s not available online. Here are the highlights:

  • Estimated $6.3 mid-year, additional cuts
  • New accounting standards may kick in in for 2009-2010
  • June 5th Governor’s Meeting for school business officer
  • For the stimulus money:
    • Much less special ed money than anticipated
    • Much less can be used for offseting the existing special ed encroachment
    • No real numbers for Title 1 money yet
    • No stimulus cash in the bank yet
  • Still more cuts needed

Charles Ramsey got the big crowd there to protest the cuts in Adult Ed. (particularly ESL) going with a rousing “Si Se Puede.” Al Kirkman brought up a good point about how the District keeps the public in the dark in terms of labor negotiations.

Standing Reports from Committess and Unions

Safety was the main issue — triggered by the Portola teacher being attacked.

Public Comment

Most of the public comment was by Adult Ed. ESL students and teachers decrying the gutting of Adult Ed. One parent and me, another parent, spoke about the issues involved in the Portola teacher being attacked. One student came up to present a petition to allow student who haven’t passed the exit exam yet to participate in the graduation ceremony.

Action Items

Response to Grand Jury Report

The staff prepared a a response to the Grand Jury report on unfunded post-employment benefits. The response said we are working on it.

It was apporoved 4-0.

Mentoring Program Support

The gist of this action item was to have the District back some grant applications by Be a Mentor for a program that would involve the City of Richmond and WCCUSD. June 15th is the deadline for the application.

The Board comment centered on how programs like this come and go with not enough followthrough. Audrey Miles was concerned that the program wasn’t following protocols like referencing the LEA plan.

It was voted 4-0 to send this matter to the Academic Subcommittee.

Discussion Items

Possible Parcel Tax

Everyone supported the idea of going forward with a bigger parcel tax. Ramsey was less concerned about process and inclusion of various groups (just the real people not the “5 or 10” — shades of the “silent majority”). Medrano, Kronenberg, and Miles were all more in favor of process and a wide base of groups in developing a parcel tax campaign.

The bottom line seemed to be to work back from the Nov. 2010 election to start planning the steps for going back dip into the parcel tax well.