La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board members selected Linik Corp. to help steer the district in its planning and implementation of Measure LCF, the $149 million general obligation bond measure approved by voters in November.
After board members voted 5-0 to approve a contract with the consultants, Linik will come aboard to assist with pre-construction planning, bidding, construction and completion of bond projects — all areas in which district staffers are not experts, Chief Business Officer Mark Evans said.
“This is an important mechanism for us, I’m very pleased to see we’re taking this step,” said board member Joe Radabaugh of the contract, which includes rates not to exceed $45,500. “There will be some incremental costs, but those costs will save us in the long run. Let’s get going.”
The board also approved a resolution that will allow the district to advance funds toward the start of a project with the intention of reimbursing the amount from subsequent sale of bonds.
“One of the things we’ve learned over the last couple months is that construction costs are anticipated to rise significantly,” board member Dan Jeffries said. “The earlier we get started the more bang we get for our bucks.”
Evans encouraged confidence in the value of the bonds, despite recent swings in the stock market. He said the municipal bond market should prove more stable than the general or equity markets. He also said LCUSD will benefit from the bond having passed in an odd-numbered year.
“Most bonds pass in even years, so with not a whole lot of bonds on the market, there should be an interest and a demand,” he said. “Those things should be favorable even if other things are volatile.”
Evans said the district’s first call on bond issuance is slated for May.
CAMPUS SAFETY REVIEW
Per state education code, the board had its annual review of its school safety plans, which address everything from procedures for reporting child abuse to policies related to suspension, as well as emergency plans and safe ingress and egress to and from school.
But parent David Haxton said the district wasn’t paying sufficient attention to getting on and off campus, citing an incident in which a student was struck by a car while in a crosswalk headed to the high school in October and other near-misses in neighborhoods around the school where drop-offs and pick-ups often occur.
“One thing I would say is we are acutely aware of the traffic situation at the high school. We’ve asked our architects to look into it, but we have not been able to come up with a simple solution,” said Jeffries, who noted that the district explored the possibility of building a parking structure where the tennis courts are located (and putting those courts on the roof of the structure), but he said the cost was prohibitive.
“There is not a simple solution, as you are well aware,” Jeffries added. “There are problems we need to address and it is part of our plan to address them through the bond measure.”
Board President Kaitzer Puglia suggested that the district incorporate updated active-shooter information in the annual review.
“One of the realities of our current culture is the active shooter situation on campuses,” Puglia said. “There’s been a lot of evidence that certain behaviors can increase chances of survival, and a lot has to do with training, how students and faculty and staff should react. It’s not something we want to teach students, but we want our faculty and staff to understand how these behaviors can save lives.”
BUDGETING WITH CAUTION
In a scheduled second interim financial report, Evans reported that this year the district is operating at a deficit. Its current $46,604,991 in general fund revenue is less than its $47,246,037 in general fund expenditures, he said.
That’s projected to change next year, when revenue is expected to increase, thanks in part to about $1 million more in Local Control Funding Formula money and another $1 million in one-time funds from the states.
Still, with operational costs anticipated to outpace revenue increases in the future and an economic downturn possible, Evans encouraged caution going forward. He said that includes focusing on building sustainability into programs and resisting the urge to use future revenue projections dollars to justify paying for ongoing expenditures.
LCUSD VOTES KRIKORIAN
The board selected Glendale Unified School District board member Greg Krikorian on its ballot as its preferred regional representative to the California School Boards Association Delegate Assembly.