_________________________________________________________________

Monday, October 10, 2016

School board agenda for Tuesday, October 11

Some of the items on this week’s agenda:

We’ll vote on approval of the weighted resource allocation model, which is designed to provide smaller class sizes in schools that have higher rates of students from low-income households, English-language learners, and students receiving special education services. The district has already been phasing in the model; this vote will incorporate it into the superintendent directions. More info here; testimonials here.

We’ll discuss the district’s Certified Annual Financial Report and its Annual Financial Health Report.

At our work session, we’ll discuss a report on the general obligation bond funding that will be necessary to finance the projects in the district’s facilities plan. We’ll also begin to talk about the possibility of suggesting revisions to the facilities plan.

We’ll review the district’s updated elementary and secondary boundary maps.

We’ll discuss updating the district’s letter to municipalities and to the county supporting diverse neighborhoods and affordable housing.

All that and more! The full agendas are here and here. Feel free to chime in with a comment about anything that catches your attention.

25 comments:

Karen W said...

With regard to the FMP, it would be good to see updated capacity numbers that reflect actual use of the building (preschool and specials classrooms, for example), aspirational, and maximum capacity. If I recall correctly, the district moved modular classrooms to Alexander for this year. I don't think anyone wants to see the district spend $344 million just to see modulars still in use. Or, if that's where we're headed, maybe the community needs to know that before the vote.

Chris said...

Karen -- I agree completely and have already begun raising that point. Instead of talking only about theoretical "capacity," I'd like to see target enrollment figures based on actual use of the buildings. Those figures should take into account what we can actually afford to staff, but should also take into account that some buildings house special-use classrooms (e.g., special ed rooms or preschools) and so can't expect to put as many kids in those rooms. We also need to find a way to somehow factor the presence of preschoolers into our enrollment projections.

Anonymous said...

Chris

Though I hoped we would get it sooner, perhaps even from you, its nice we finally have the answer to the question about how specific the bond language will be and what happens if the board decides to go away from what is approved in the bond.

What if an event or events happen that require the District change plans over the fiveyear
period? Can the District choose not to complete a project that was listed as part of
the voter referendum? Remember, ALL of the projects included on the ballot MUST be
completed. It is not appropriate for the District to not complete certain projects. If the
District does not complete all the projects, the failure to do so may subject the District
and the Bonds to voter challenge. The projects as described in the ballot and to the voters
MUST be done. The District can’t decide Project XYZ is no longer feasible after four
years and simply not do it. Also, if there is excess capacity and the District wants to use it
to build an auditorium, but that wasn’t a project included on the ballot, then G.O. Bonds
may not be issued nor can G.O. Bond proceeds be used for that project.

Anonymous said...

1130. Bond language won't be specific enough.

Anonymous said...

12:09 Forever the cynic and doubter even with faced with facts that show otherwise. Let me guess, a Trump supporter also?

Chris said...

Anonymous (11:30) — I was pleased to see that the district’s position is that projects in the bond cannot be changed after voters approve the bond. The question is a legal one. I have not done enough research on the issue to form an opinion of my own about it, and even if I had, I would not hold my own opinion out as authoritative. That said, the district’s statement does not cite any authority for its position, and it’s not clear whether it’s based on the advice of legal counsel. So, though my instincts tell me that the district’s assessment of the question is probably accurate, I would be interested to see the legal basis for its conclusions.

And, for what it’s worth, I’m aware of at least one Attorney General opinion from 1992 stating that a school district can change the intended purpose of a building that is the subject of a bond vote if changed circumstances justify it. That’s not the same as changing the list of projects itself, and I don’t know whether the Attorney General would reach the same conclusion today, but until a particular argument in particular circumstances has been made and rejected, it is not always possible to have 100% confidence about what a court would do.

I certainly agree that the district should not change projects in the bond after voter approval, regardless of what the legal constraints are. I hope that that will still be the district’s position after a bond is approved, but administrators and board members come and go, so what matters is not what the district’s current position is, but whether that position is compelled by the law. That’s a legal question that I’d like to see a more thorough discussion of.

megic said...

Chris -- As the Board begins to review the FMP, perhaps now would be a good opportunity to revisit the possibility of keeping Hoover Elementary School open to serve the community. I would be very interested to see how that modification (among other such modifications to the FMP) would impact enrollments and boundary decisions, not to mention the overall financial picture. You have addressed this many times; now may the time to do so again.

Anonymous said...

One could surmise that Craig Hansel, who was the CFO for Ankeny during their bond votes, would know the relevant requirements.

Anonymous said...

For the GO bonds, much will depend on the specificity of the ballot language and the purpose statement (in the offering document). The more general the statement ("elementary building" vs. specific named buildings, for example), the more flexibility the board will have to pick and choose among projects and adjust for changes down the road.

Karen W said...

One could surmise anything. But law changes and, even if it hasn't, there's nothing wrong with having actual code and/or case law citations. It's not an insult to ask for legal citations.

Anonymous said...

I guess I am just a little confused as a board member, such as Chris, could easily email the superintendent who could provide an answer to the question. Doesn't seem that difficult unless one doesn't want the answer.

Anonymous said...

The bond will be based on a projects list. If the bond passes the school board will decide what projects go first, second, etc. And just because an item in on the bond list when the bond passes doesn't mean it gets done.

Mary M said...

Chris,

I also agree with Karen W at 7:58. And I'd like to add that capacity numbers, if put together by an outside party, should not be done by any business that may bid on future building/design work with the district.

I'd also like to respectfully request that the board add an agenda item at a regular board meeting about what the administration proposes to do with the science curriculum before the purchase of curriculum materials/textbooks shows up on the consent agenda. I would be interested in seeing how this impacts science coursework in the junior highs and high schools. http://www.iowacityschools.org/pages/ICCSD/Departments/Curriculum/7820227678950642898/Science_Department/Science_Curriculum_Review

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:37:

Did you read the post above? The following language is taken from the QA section of tonight's board meeting attachment prepared, presumably, by the administration:

What if an event or events happen that require the District change plans over the fiveyear
period? Can the District choose not to complete a project that was listed as part of
the voter referendum? Remember, ALL of the projects included on the ballot MUST be
completed. It is not appropriate for the District to not complete certain projects. If the
District does not complete all the projects, the failure to do so may subject the District
and the Bonds to voter challenge. The projects as described in the ballot and to the voters
MUST be done. The District can’t decide Project XYZ is no longer feasible after four
years and simply not do it. Also, if there is excess capacity and the District wants to use it
to build an auditorium, but that wasn’t a project included on the ballot, then G.O. Bonds
may not be issued nor can G.O. Bond proceeds be used for that project.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that SEJH is scheduled to receive school updates(90% capacity) while NCJH is going to have to wait two years longer (over 100% capacity)? if so it looks like a lot of GO BOND money will be in the hands of one side of town and they are putting themselves first. I won't support a district bond that serves one side over another when needs and numbers don't justify it.

Anonymous said...

So how is the district going to pay for this bond?
"When a state, city or other issuer issues general obligation bonds, this means that the issuer is guaranteeing repayment of the bonds using any means necessary. The full faith, credit, and taxing power of the issuer are backing the bonds. The issuer is going to use any taxation power in its authority to make sure you get paid back, putting the revenues from every type of tax on the hook to guarantee the bonds: income taxes, corporate taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, gas taxes, any tax that can be levied by the issuer. This is why it is called a general obligation bond: the issuer is generally obligated. If the issuer has any problems paying you back, they must raise taxes or come up with the money somehow, some way. The issuer may even have to sell assets to do it. If they miss a payment, known as a “default”, a judge can order the issuer to take corrective action to raise money to satisfy the bondholders."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:49 - you should look at the FMP and account for where the SAVE funds are going. When one does that you can see it is fairly geographically balanced as to where the funds are spent such as the many millions from the SAVE funds going to Liberty. You can then do the same thing and see that a the projects on a bond will also be pretty geographically balanced. Ironically, I am told the geographical balancing of projects was done, in part, because of statements like "I won't vote for a bond that doesn't benefit me."

Chris

Thank you for clarifying with Craig the legal binding nature of the bond last night. Given the number of comments to the opposite it would be great if you could set them straight.

Anonymous said...

8:53 is it true that SEJH will be ahead of NCJH by two years despite crowding at NCJH? it's not the "who is getting what" part that bothers me. It's the "who is getting what when" part that bothers me.
Is there a reason why an under capacity school goes ahead of an over capacity school?

Katie said...

Question - Are the secondary boundary maps linked above "final," at least for next school year? I wasn't able to attend, and I don't see the minutes posted yet.

Katie said...

Also, a request... could the district's home school mapping tool be updated with 17-18 school assignments prior to the voluntary transfer request deadline? I believe it's possible to show two years' assignments. I am fairly certain it was shown this way a year or two ago under another round of boundary movements. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Katie, I feel the same. The district website needs to be updated and the assignment tool as well. This is not too much to ask given the uncertainty involved.

Chris said...

Katie and Anonymous (9:35) -- I think the look-ups are now updated. There's one for 2016-17, one for 2017-18, and one for 2019-20 and beyond.

Anonymous said...

The blind trust of some of these comments is amazing. No way will the bond issue ballot language be narrow enough to be legally binding. And what if the actual cost of the projects (which can't be known until the bids are opened well after the bond vote) exceeds the bond amount?

Anonymous said...

Anon at 1205, I agree with you. We can talk about technicalities of the ballot language all day. But at the end of the day, it is trust that matters. It is a lot of money over a long period. It won't be possible to nail everything down. But do I trust the Board and the Admin? They have a track record of bait and switch, a track record of flipping and flopping, a track record of dividing rather than uniting. So no, I will vote no, regardless of what is on the ballot. I will do everything I can to persuade everyone around me.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of trust. This may not directly relate to the conversation here, but it was curious that the question of whether the district has a non-fraternization policy was raised at the last board meeting. I don’t want to be overly suspicious of or cynical about the administration – just made me wonder.