(Thousand Oaks, Ca) Tuesday began with calls on social media for people to show up and voice their opinion regarding the re-vote on the Alternate Assignment Policy passed last spring at Conejo Valley Unified School District’s first board meeting to start off the new school year.
Tuesday’s agenda included
- An update on the Measure I General Obligation Bond,
- A presentation on the School Volunteer Policy that resulted after last year’s security review,
- A presentation on the policy for physical education independent study
- A discussion and re-vote on the Alternate Assignment Policy
- A review of Accounts Payable Exceeding $5,000, and
- A vote on bylaws updates and improvements across a number of sections
The open session meeting, which began at 6:00pm, adjourned just before 10:00pm with 26 speakers sharing their thoughts with the public and the Board, including candidates running in the coming election for open Board seats.
Independent Study Physical Education
The night’s first presentation was made by Louis Lichtl, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services for the District.
Lichtl began by sharing the presentation was made in response to a student request a previous board meeting for a clear understanding of the independent student PE policy by CVUSD.
Overall, independent study PE is intended for nationally ranked and Olympic athletes to be able to gain credits for the immense amount of time each week they spend investing into their sport. Currently, it is not intended for those playing in team sports. For students to qualify, they must maintain a 2.0 GPA, have national ranking published by a recognizable authority and must have the location or agency where they practice occurs to become approved by the District.
For CVUSD middle schools, approximately 70 applications were submitted and 54 were approved ( 77%). For the 16 not approved, they were rejected because they were not returned or completed (14) or insurance requirements were not met (1) or child molestation insurance could not be provided (1).
For CVUSD high schools, approximately 35 applications were submitted and 28 were approved (80%). For the 7 not approved, they were rejected because the application was late (by many months) (1) or no proof of competition / team sport (1) or no proof of national ranking could be found (5).
Through discussion and comments with Board members, Lichtl stated he would publish this policy on the CVUSD website and reach out to the student who had originally requested the information.
School Volunteer Policy
Jeanne Valentine, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, presented the revised procedures for School Volunteers that came to be after a security assessment was performed last year.
The revised process has now categorized 4 volunteer levels based on the degree of contact with children, degree of responsibility, amount of supervision by staff, and frequency of volunteer time provided to the school.
McLaughlin shared, “We are trying to streamline the process across schools. So we are now implementing this new program and will collect data and look and see what comes back.”
CVUSD Board Trustee, Dr. Betsy Connelly, asked questions regarding the cost of the TB risk assessment required of volunteers. After hearing the response, “Just $20,” Connelly replied, “To say just $20. It might be high. We don’t want to prevent anyone from being able to volunteer because of costs. Where do they go to get this? Is it available after hours and on the weekends?”
Responses from CVUSD seem to assure that the cost or effort to obtain a TB risk assessment was not burdensome based on feedback from parents.
Measure I G.O. Bond
Timothy Carty of PiperJaffray, the Financial Advisor to CVUSD, made a presentation to the Board about the status of the Measure I bond set at $50 million. Overall, Carty reported very favorable results from the sale of the bond on June 12, 2018 by Wells Fargo. Carty shared that after meeting between CVUSD Superintendent Mark McLaughlin and Assistant Superintendent Victor Hayek and ratings agencies Moody’s and Fitch, the district’s credit rating was upgraded from “A1” to “AA3” from Moody’s and a “AAA” from Fitch, the highest ranking category for the agency. Carty complimented Mclaughlin and Hayek in their efforts to meet with the ratings agencies in San Francisco. “Moody’s is a tremendous compliment to the staff and district to secure such good ratings. Huge compliment to the District. Rating increases don’t come easily.”
Carty included that a typical bond repayment ratio must be no higher than 4:1. CVUSD is 1.42: 1, which is a very strong indication of its ability to repay its obligations.
Carty discussed the process to decide on an underwriter, the payment schedule, and the costs.
Alternate Assignment Policy
Of the 26 speakers, 10 were against the policy and 16 were in favor of the policy. Comments on both sides seemed appropriate, speaking to the issues without personal attacks. Commenters included mothers, fathers, teachers, local residents, parents of CVUSD graduates no longer in the District, and candidates running for office.
Some of the more notable comments included one speaker that did not support the policy that stated, “This is a dog and pony show… Vote for candidates that support governance over our children.”
Multiple people not in support of the policy stated that on a Tuesday night before the first day of school, many teachers and parents were not in attendance because of timing.
A father in support of the policy stated that he had a few kids go through the school district and some had chosen to opt out of certain literature without issue. However, one of his children has an unfortunate circumstance where a teacher became extremely upset and lashed out at his daughter due to her request. he stated that he believed the updated policy would help improve the consistency to which teachers addressed the request.
Another father stated that he, “can’t find the educational benefit of reading about the rape of a 9 year old girl by her step father. If it was a movie, kids wouldn’t be allowed to see it without their parents.”
After public comments, board members began to discuss the policy and why there was a need for a re-vote. McLaughlin and CVUSD Board President, John Andersen, stated that even though the letter received from the District Attorney’s office regarding the Brown Act issue did not request curative steps, a public inquiry was made about curative steps. “Therefore, Mark and I felt it was in the best interest of the District to revote,” stated Andersen.
CVUSD Board Vice President, Sandee Everett, mentioned that she felt she needed to respond to comments made by speakers regarding the optional use of an administrator to request an alternate assignment, her reference to the California Department of Education’s best practices being references throughout the policy and the questioning of her intentions when writing this policy. Everett then read letters from different parents that she had received with regard to the policy.
Connelly started with a comment about how at this time a year ago the board was unanimous about the need for an alternate assignment policy and yet at this point today, after all that has transpired, the board is in a very dark place with the loss of trust. She prompted each member of the board to evaluate their own personal contribution in arriving at this “terrible place.”
Everett requested to speak and then stated that there were 3 things that she was asked to remove:
- Notifications in the Syllabus
- Annotations by the California Department of Education (CDE), and
- The creation of a parent committee to make recommendation.
Everett explained that the parent committee was meant to make recommendations, not final decisions. the Board is ultimately responsible for approving curriculum and book policies and then cited 6002.
Phelps responded that they have that in the teacher policy already and was amenable to adding it on the syllabus. She stated that the asterisks were the issue and so was the parent committee appointed by the Board.
Following comments, a vote was taken. The Board voted 3-2 in favor of the Alternate Assignment Policy with John Andersen, Sandee Everett, and Mike Dunn voting in favor of the policy and Pat Phelps and Betsy Connelly voting against the policy.
After the vote, most attendees left the meeting.
Over the course of many months, Andersen has undertaken an effort to update the bylaws and procedures for the CVUSD Board. On Tuesday, the Board continued to evaluate ratify changes to the bylaws. Some changes included the evaluation of a conflict of interest each year, Board members being compensated even if they do not attend meetings, and introducing agenda items no less than 2 weeks before a meeting.
The meeting adjourned just before 9:50pm.
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