Governing Board Discusses Upcoming Bond Campaign

By this time next year, a local get-out-the-vote campaign could be in full swing.
For now, planning has begun for what the La Cañada Unified School District hopes will be a successful bond measure. The district took a preliminary step at Tuesday’s Governing Board meeting when Charles Heath, a consultant who previously helped orchestrate a pair of winning parcel tax measures for the district, offered a walk-through of a proposed timeline for a bond.
He also highlighted the decision-making process involved, describing a feasibility study followed by a consensus-building step: “We’ll access basic viability. If we were to put it on the ballot, is there a reasonable chance of [the necessary] 55% approval, and if so, what does that measure look like?”
The bond — which would be put to a vote in November 2017 — would help fund the district’s Facilities Master Plan, which includes projects such as repairing the pool at La Cañada High School and updating the aging wireless infrastructure that is being strained by the district’s ever-advancing technological capabilities.
If the board votes to approve putting a bond on the ballot, the “advocacy campaign” kicks in, and the school district steps away to let community members take over by making phone calls, knocking on doors and promoting the bond.
Heath said that of the 13,168 registered voters in LCUSD boundaries, expected voter turnout would be about 5,600 — and 3,080 “yes” votes would be required to meet the 55% threshold for the bond to pass.
Adam Bauer of Fieldman, Rolapp and Associates was also in attendance to offer an overview of general obligation bond financing options, telling board members he expects the district has a AA rating.
He also compared neighboring school districts with LCUSD, telling board members that San Marino residents living on a property valued at $800,000 pay $9,861.86 annually in property taxes, including $1,195 in parcel taxes to the schools. In LCF, he said residents with an $800,000 property, pay $9,041.58 annually, including $450 a year for a parcel tax set to expire in 2021.

LCTV FUNDING APPROVED

The Governing Board voted 5-0 to approve infrastructure upgrades of $40,937 for a space dedicated to LCTV, a new elective video and communications course at LCHS.
The classroom is being renovated to support the new course’s technological and curricular needs, which include new copper and fiber wiring, according to Jamie Lewsadder, the district’s chief technology officer.
She said the school successfully applied for CTE grant money to cover course expenses but that infrastructure upgrades are still needed. Those also include a new audio system for screening student work, data ports for six editing bays, three control areas, an audio recording booth, the audio mixing room, projection/viewing equipment and a new projection system for student work.
In response to a question from the board’s student representative, Alex Zhao, Lewsadder said that it’s her “dream” for many more students than the approximately 120 enrolled in the elective to use the equipment, whether it’s for recording school spirit videos or doing projects for other classes.
Board member Ellen Multari noted that what was being approved was not “an insignificant expense.”
“This was not part of the approval package,” she said, suggesting that board members remember to think longer-term when approving such ambitious technological courses. “Our bad for not having been more forthcoming about it, and now, after the fact it’s kind of hard to say no because what do you do with those 120 students? Sorry?”

CHALLENGING SUCCESS

The district is sending a group of administrators, teachers, parents and students to the 13th annual Challenge Success Conference this weekend at Stanford University.
The program has worked with more than 130 middle and high schools to encourage policies and practices that increase academic engagement, and also interpersonal and collaborative skills, adaptability, resilience, critical thinking and creativity.
During the two-day conference, LCUSD representatives will attend seminars and roundtable discussions on a number of topics, Governing Board President David Sagal said. When the team returns, its members will develop a game plan to implement what they learned. There also is a follow-up conference in spring.
“Anyone familiar with our district will appreciate the relevance of the Challenge Success program to our students,” Sagal said. “As the father of a high school junior, each morning I see its relevance on the face of my son as he sits across the breakfast table. I can see him burdened with the onslaught of classes, rehearsals, sports activities and homework assignments. He stays mostly cheerful and resilient, although he, like every one of our students, has moments of doubt. It is not easy.
“I think he would be happy to know that the leaders and members of the school community here … are putting in the time and effort to participate in the Challenge Success conference.”

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