Bond funds banked, millions must be cut- Vallejo school budget – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

With millions of Measure S dollars in the bank, the Vallejo City Unified School District must still find a way to cut millions from its budget, it was learned at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

At the meeting, trustees learned both that the first sale of Measure S bonds, which will help pay for facilities repairs and upgrades, went better than expected and will cost slightly less per taxpayer to repay, but also that projected enrollment declines are expected to wreak havoc on the district’s budget.

Nearly $39 million came in from the bond sale – some $600,000 more than expected — and is in the bank and ready to use. The next bond sale should happen in 2021.

Source: Millions in bond funds banked, millions must be cut from Vallejo school budget – Times-Herald

Vallejo school district to discuss how to use bond money – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Vallejo City Unified School District officials will discuss how to spend the millions of dollars coming in from bond sales, even as they prepare for deep cuts to compensate for continued declining enrollment.

Items dealing with having enough teachers are also on the agenda during Wednesday’s meeting.

One of the items on Wednesday’s meeting agenda would make it possible to sell the district offices if needed. Right now, the district is leasing the site for $1 per year from Lennar Mare Island, which has yet to draw up the required paperwork conveying ownership to the district for the agreed-upon price of $1.

Source: Vallejo school district to discuss how to use bond money – Times-Herald

New textbooks, layoffs on tap for Vallejo school board meeting – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The adoption of new textbooks, layoffs of teachers and other staff, end of year projections, the number of vacant positions and codifying new school start times are among the items set for consideration at Wednesday’s regular Vallejo City Unified School District board meeting.

Public hearings will be held before the adoption of about $1.7 million worth of new K-12 history and social science textbooks, based on the framework adopted by the state department of education in 2016.

The End of Year Projections for 2018-19, required for any district filing a “qualified” or “negative” certification, will show that all VCUSD funds should have positive balances for the period ending April 30.

Source: New textbooks, layoffs on tap for Vallejo school board meeting – Times-Herald

First Measure S bond sale may be authorized Wednesday – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Vallejo City Unified School District board members are expected to pass a resolution at their Wednesday meeting to authorize the sale of the first installment of Measure S bonds. The board also is expected to approve the allowance of the “piggyback contract process” to get furniture and equipment for Solano Middle School before it merges with Widenmann Elementary School.

In terms of the bonds, some 70 percent of voters approved Measure S, and at the April 10 meeting, trustees learned about the bond financing plan and sale process from the district’s municipal adviser, Government Financial Strategies.

On Wednesday, the board will consider a resolution authorizing the sale of the first $39 million of Measure S bonds. The resolution also will authorize the sale to an underwriter to be selected using a competitive process, approving various financing documents, and authorizing certain district officials to execute the final versions of documents prescribing certain bond terms and conditions.

Source: First Measure S bond sale may be authorized Wednesday – Times-Herald

Vallejo school district to be carved into voting areas – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

In a split vote on Wednesday, the Vallejo school board agreed to transition to a “by-trustee area” election system, mostly to avoid a threatened lawsuit.

Trustees Christy Gardner, Tony Gross and John Fox voted yes, while board president Robert Lawson dissented and trustee Tony Ubalde abstained. Therefore, the Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Trustees elected to join the City of Vallejo in dividing the town into voting districts. This will avoid a lawsuit by private law firms that are targeting school districts and other agencies statewide for alleged violations of the 2002 California Voting Rights Act.

Source: Vallejo school district to be carved into voting areas – Times-Herald

Vallejo School District to ask for advance of tax funds disbursement – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The Vallejo City Unified School District board on Wednesday will consider borrowing money against expected tax revenues to cover any cash flow problems, as well as adopting a resolution to transition to a different type of election system starting in 2020.

California Education Code provides for the Board of Supervisors and County Treasurer to temporarily transfer property tax funds to school districts that lack sufficient money and credit to meet their expenses. The loan comes from property tax revenue the district expects for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The Constitutional Advance allows the district to receive the majority of this revenue prior to the standard December and April transfer time line. If approved by the Solano County Board of Supervisors, the transfer could be available on July 1.

Source: Vallejo School District to ask for advance of tax funds disbursement – Times-Herald

Wednesday’s Vallejo school district meeting to deal with issues – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Vallejo City Unified School District board members are expected to decide on a new Chief Business Officer, one less school cop and several campus improvement projects going out to bid, according to Wednesday’s meeting agenda.

District staff is asking the board to approve Adrian Vargas as the new CBO, to replace Hitesh Haria, who accepted a position in another district. Vargas previously served in this position, and “presents us with a seamless transition as we establish a search process to fill the position permanently,” staff said in the agenda. Vargas will be paid $175,000 in 12 approximately equal monthly installments.

Aimed at saving $112,500, board members will also be asked to approve a Third Amendment to the School Resource Officer (SRO) Memorandum of Understanding, reducing the number of SROs from three to two. There was one SRO approved in 2014; that increased to two the following year, and to three in 2017.

Source: Wednesday’s Vallejo school district meeting to deal with new money man, fewer campus cops, other issues – Times-Herald

Vallejo school board pleads for funds in Sacramento – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The entire Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Trustees headed to Sacramento Tuesday to plead for better funding, board vice president John Fox said Wednesday.

It may have been Prop. 13 or a combination of other factors, but somehow in the past 30 years, California’s school system went from one of the nation’s top to among its lowest in terms of funding. Consequently, it also is among the lowest performing, Trustee Tony Ubalde said.

“(Tuesday), the California School Board Association offered an opportunity for school boards to meet with legislators,” Fox said. “We went to try to get more funds, what with all the cuts we’re facing.”

Source: Vallejo school board pleads for funds in Sacramento – Times-Herald

Verder-Aliga can seek another council term in 2020, Vallejo officials say – Times-Herald

By John Glidden

City Hall officials have determined that Councilwoman Rozzana Verder-Aliga is eligible to serve another term on the council, should she decide to seek re-election in 2020.

It was originally thought Verder-Aliga’s only move in 2020, if she wished to remain on the council, was to run for a four-year term as Vallejo mayor. However, Vallejo City Clerk Dawn Abrahamson, along with City Attorney Claudia Quintana have confirmed that isn’t so after reviewing the City Charter.

They said the charter allows Verder-Aliga to seek another four-year term as a council member or run for mayor during next year’s election.

The charter prevents a person from serving more than two consecutive four-year terms as either mayor or as a council member, while also prohibiting elected officials from serving in the offices of council member and mayor for longer than three consecutive four year terms.

Source: Verder-Aliga can seek another council term in 2020, Vallejo officials say – Times-Herald

Vallejo school board makes $7.25 million in cuts – Times-Herald

By John Glidden

There was a noticeable pause and silence from the Vallejo school board Wednesday night after board President Bob Lawson asked if any of the trustees had a motion.

After a few tense seconds, Trustee Tony Gross eventually offered up a motion to approve recommendations from Vallejo City Unified School District administrative staff to cut $7.25 million from next year’s fiscal year budget.

The board’s unanimous vote ended a terse and emotional discussion Wednesday night as the district attempts to erase a $22 million deficit and stave off insolvency.

Source: Vallejo school board makes $7.25 million in cuts – Times-Herald

Vallejo school board dedicates meeting to killed alpacas – Times-Herald

By John Glidden

The Vallejo school board concluded its three-hour meeting Wednesday night by adjourning in honor of the three alpacas killed during a dog attack at Loma Vista Farm last Friday.

While most of the meeting centered around the board’s need to make $7.25 million in cuts, a bulk of those reductions to district positions, Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Adam Clark did take time to offer his condolences for the loss.

“I just wanted to share in my condolences for the farm animals that we lost over at Loma Vista Farm,” he said during his report to the trustees. “It was absolutely tragic, I was sick to my stomach when I heard about it Saturday morning, sick to my stomach when I went by there Sunday, and still, sick to my stomach about that unfortunate event that took place.”

Source: Vallejo school board dedicates meeting to killed alpacas – Times-Herald

Specific program, personnel cuts on Vallejo’s school board agenda – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The specific $7.2 million in budget cuts recommended by Superintendent Adam Clark last week are expected to be approved at the Vallejo City Unified School District meeting on Wednesday, despite impassioned appeals last week by many of those impacted.

The school district finds itself in financial trouble as a result of declining enrollment, including encroachment of charger schools, high chronic absentee rates, and rising contributions to employee health and benefits. The district is still repaying — at some $3 million per year — a $60 million state bailout loan from the last time it got into trouble.The district must maintain fiscal solvency to avoid being taken over the state again, by making appropriate revisions to the budget to eliminate structural deficits.

Source: Specific program, personnel cuts on Vallejo’s school board agenda – Times-Herald

Proposed Vallejo school board cuts draw tears – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

There were long faces on the dais as well as in the crowded gallery at Wednesday’s Vallejo City Unified School District meeting. There were even tears, as some of the people in positions recommended for budget-balancing cuts took to the podium to plead with officials to reconsider.

It was reiterated that the district faces a $22 million structural deficit, and that if a way is not found to staunch the financial bleeding, the district could wind up under state control again. The reasons this has happened again to the district, which is still repaying a $60 million bailout loan to the state of California, are several-fold.

For one thing, it’s been losing students at a precipitous rate — having gone from some 20,000 just 20 years ago, to less than 12,000 today, and dropping by hundreds each year. Some of that is a result of charter school encroachment, officials said. Also, the district has among the state’s worst chronic absenteeism rates, which costs it money as well.

Source: Proposed Vallejo school board cuts draw tears – Times-Herald

Budget cuts, new grad requirements are part of VCUSD meeting agenda – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The first order of business during the public portion of the Vallejo City Unified School District’s meeting Wednesday will be the swearing in of new board member Christy Gardner. A first reading of the district’s new graduation requirement policy, and a first round of proposed budget cuts, including layoffs, is also planned.

Declining enrollment, high chronic absentee rates, rising health and benefit contributions, and charter school encroachment, has caused a significant budget shortfall. To maintain fiscal solvency and avoid the loss of local control, cuts must be made.

Superintendent Adam Clark has found some $7.2 million in cuts that come mostly through personnel and program revisions/reductions, designed to meet both the fiscal and program objectives.

Source: Budget cuts, new grad requirements are part of Vallejo school district meeting agenda – Times-Herald

Gardner officially sworn in at Vallejo school board meeting – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The empty seat on the Vallejo school board was filled and initial school closures agreed to at the Vallejo City Unified School District’s meeting Wednesday.

Just before voting to change the board’s bylaws to “allow more leeway” in filling empty seats by removing the clause stipulating they must appoint the next highest vote-getter in the previous school board election, trustees did just that. They named Christy Gardner to the seat vacated by Marianne Kearney-Brown’s December resignation. Gardner placed fourth in the November election’s race for three board seats.

Trustee Tony Ubalde said he’d met with Gardner earlier in the week and while he still has some concerns, said he felt better about her appointment. It was noted that the bylaws’ new wording doesn’t prevent the next highest vote-getter from being appointed should such a circumstance arise again.

Source: Gardner officially sworn in at Vallejo school board meeting – Times-Herald

Changing the rules to fill vacated seat on Vallejo school board agenda – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Changing the procedure for filling an empty board seat, the results of union negotiations, school closure recommendations and Measure S fund expenditures are among the issues on the agenda for Wednesday’s Vallejo City Unified School District board meeting.

District staff is recommending the Governing Board use the provisional appointment process to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former trustee Marianne Kearney-Brown.

As it now stands, the board would appoint the fourth highest vote-getter in the last election, which was Christy Gardner. However, also on the agenda is changing Board Bylaw 9223, by removing the line, “When authorized by law to make a provisional appointment to fill a vacancy on the Board, the Board shall appoint the next highest candidate who received votes from the previous election.”

Source: Changing the rules to fill vacated seat on Vallejo school board agenda – Times-Herald

First 2019 Vallejo school board meeting to address seat vacated by Kearney-Brown – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Filling a spot on the Vallejo City Unified School District Governing Board unexpectedly vacated by its sitting president in December, is one top item on the agenda for the school district’s first regular board meeting of 2019.

Also, a policy change designed to make it easier for high school seniors to meet graduation criteria and another batch of proposed vendor contracts with the District, are also scheduled to be discussed.

The Jan. 9 meeting will be the first to include newly elected trustees John Fox and Tony Gross, who replace Burky Worel and Ruscal Cayangyang.

Source: First 2019 Vallejo school board meeting to address seat vacated by Kearney-Brown – Times-Herald

Vallejo school board faces hard choices in the new year – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

With the especially contentious 2018 behind them, the leadership of the Vallejo City Unified School District say they’re hopeful 2019 will produce better, less explosive results, though it continues to face an uphill financial landscape.

“There will be a collaborative effort from the board and district leadership to engage with our stakeholders to address the needs of our students,” Superintendent Adam Clark said. “We are excited about the progress we have made so far and look forward to a positive 2019.”

Source: Vallejo school board faces hard choices in the new year – Times-Herald

2018 was a year of transition for the city of Vallejo – Times-Herald

By John Glidden

Change was the theme for the city of Vallejo as residents voted out three local elected leaders in November, the community watched as the city positioned itself for future development, and City Hall was awash with new faces.

Community advocate Hakeem Brown was elected to the Vallejo City Council during the Nov. 6 election, coming in first place with 23,288 votes or 28.88 percent, and coming out ahead of the three incumbents seeking re-election to the council.

While councilwomen Katy Miessner and Pippin Dew-Costa each secured a new four-year term on the City Council, Brown’s victory knocked Vallejo Councilman Jess Malgapo from the dais. Malgapo’s departure is probably the biggest shock of the election after he ran a highly successful council campaign in 2013, which saw him place first.

Source: 2018 was a year of transition for the city of Vallejo – Times-Herald

2018 was a volatile year for Vallejo schools – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Many Vallejo City Unified School District observers might be experiencing a sense of relief to see 2018 wind down, with 2019 promising a new attitude on its Board of Trustees, and an influx of funds to improve deteriorating facilities.

The year just ending was a bumpy one for the Vallejo school district, though most of the turbulence was not on campus, but, rather, at the board meetings.

Irreconcilable differences between some board members was evident in 2018, and led to board president Burkey Worel resigning that post in July, to finish out his term as a Trustee.

Source: 2018 was a volatile year for Vallejo schools – Times-Herald