WSCUHSD board to hold public hearings on draft LCAP and next year’s proposed budget

By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, June 9, 2021

School’s out for summer, but the long-term planning of the West Sonoma County Union High School District’s (WSCUHSD) student outcome goals and proposed budget for the coming year is on the agenda for the 6 p.m. school board meeting Wednesday, June 9.

The agenda and Zoom link information can be accessed here. There will also be an opportunity for public comment on the closed-session agenda at 5 p.m., before the board enters the closed session to confer with legal counsel regarding CARE v. WSCUHSD.

The school board is scheduled to consider approving the consent calendar and then report out any actions taken during the closed session.

Following reports from associations, board members and the superintendent, the trustees will consider approving recommended updates to Board Bylaw 9323, regarding meeting conduct, the agenda said.

The acronym of the day is LCAP

The board will conduct a public hearing for the community to speak on the district’s annual update to its three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and the new three-year draft LCAP to cover the 2021-24 years, the agenda report said.

The draft LCAP and the annual update documents are both provided in the agenda. The report said the LCAP will not come before the board for approval until the regular June 23 board meeting.

After the public hearing, Superintendent Toni Beal is scheduled to present the annual update and “and the proposed goals, actions, services and expenditures for the 2021-24 WSCUHSD LCAP.”

The agenda report defines the LCAP as “a three-year plan that describes the goals, actions, services and expenditures to support positive student outcomes that address state and local priorities.”

The LCAP detailing how the district will reach its student outcome goals is also a requirement for the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the state education finance system that largely determines school district funding.

The annual update serves to evaluate whether the district has successfully carried out its planned actions and services with the designated funding and how effectively those help the district meet its goals, according to the agenda report.

“Based on this information, the districts revise current goals, actions or services, realign budgets and/or propose new actions or services that will achieve the district’s goals,” the report said.

In addition, Beal is slated to present the board with the 2021-22 LCAP Federal Addendum that will come back for potential approval at the June 23 board meeting.

Per the report, districts need to send the federal addendum to the California Department of Education (CDE) for approval to apply for funding from the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Preparing to shift to a by-trustee area election method

In February, WSCUHSD trustees voted to shift from an at-large trustee election system to a by-trustee area election system and seek a waiver of a community vote on the transition so the new system could be effective by the 2022 board election.

The agenda report states, “the district’s purpose in this action is to reduce costs for the district associated with placing an item on the ballot and to reduce any potential legal liability or financial risk to the district under the California Voting Rights Act.”

The school board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on submitting a request for a waiver of the election requirement for the State Board of Education’s approval at the June 9 board meeting. After, the board will consider authorizing submission of the general waiver request.

The agenda has the board set to consider approving the Agricultural Career Technical Education Incentive Grant as its last discussion and action item for education services. According to the report, CDE grant is for strengthening agricultural vocational programs in schools.

Seeking feedback on the 2021-22 budget

The June 9 board meeting agenda schedules Catrina Howatt, a “veteran school business official” from Total School Solutions, to present the district’s proposed budget for the 2021-22 year. According to the agenda report, the proposed budget will return for approval at the June 23 board meeting.

Per the agenda report, Howatt will also go over “the district’s minimum reserve level required, the total assigned and unassigned ending fund balance, and the reasons for the reserve being greater than the minimum for 2021-22.”

After her presentation, the third public hearing of the night gives community members the chance to give feedback on the proposed budget and reserve levels, the agenda said.

Further, the agenda report calls attention to the projected deficit spending in the 2021-22 budget to be presented, “a decrease of nearly $500,000 in ending fund balance.”

Up next, the board will consider passing a resolution to allow the district to transfer special or restricted money between its funds, described as “temporary loans” between funds during the 2021-22 year, to be repaid according to the California Education Code.

According to the agenda report, the district’s individual funds must all have a positive balance as of June 30 on the fiscal calendar and the board has previously authorized these transfers in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 years.

The report continues to say state or federal funding delays sometimes lead to situations where “individual district funds may need to borrow from other funds to meet cash flow needs,” as permitted by California Education Code on a temporary basis.

The governor’s revised 2021-22 budget proposal still includes “the deferral of the June 2022 apportionment to July 2022,” the report said, positing the district may need to borrow from different district funds to keep a positive balance in the general fund.

Then comes the monthly budget update for board approval, the agenda said.

Sweetening the deal for a new CBO

Toward the end of the meeting, the monthly personnel report comes to the school board for approval. Then the board will consider approving the 2021-22 employment contracts for Laguna High School Principal Alywn Greene, as well as Erin Elliott and Dani Barese as two of the vice principals at the consolidated school now called West County High School.

Other contracts up for approval are Laura Schmitt as district director of special education, Rose Velasquez as special education consortium director, Mia Del Prete as Director of Human Resources and Jennie Bruneman as director of facilities and bond construction management, the agenda report listed.

The report noted that Analy Principal Shauna Ferdinandson’s contract to become West County High’s principal and El Molino teacher Rachel Lasek’s contract to become one of the school’s vice principals had already been approved at past board meetings.

Finally, the trustees are scheduled to consider approving a new salary schedule for a chief business official (CBO), starting at $125,142 for Step One on the pay scale, according to the attached management salary schedule for 2021-22.

The report said that, according to Del Prete, the district has had four CBOs come and go in the last six years and now there are five other districts trying to hire a new CBO in the county as well.

As part of the district’s efforts to attract applicants, the board is slated to consider approving an agreement with School Services of California (SSC), Inc. for help recruiting a new CBO and a $10,000 “Signing/Retention Bonus,” for a CBO, split into half “at the time of hire” and the other half after the CBO has been with the district for 18 months.

Previously at the board’s March 26 meeting, the board gave direction to proceed with an agreement with SSC, Inc, a 3% salary increase and to explore a signing/retention bonus, according to the agenda report.

The bonus is not mentioned in the agreement document. However, the agenda report said Danyel Conolley, SSC director, Management Consulting Services, agreed “SSC can enter into an Agreement with the district for the recruitment due to the 3% salary increase and consideration of a Signing/Retention bonus.” The report said she had initially recommended the board think about a 5% salary increase.

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