Here's a recap of the most recent William S Hart School District Governing Board meeting:
Matching Funds Pave Way for Security Cameras
The Hart District has received a grant for close to $250,000 to provide security cameras on its campuses—the only such project approved for all of Los Angeles County. In order to accept the grant, the Governing Board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Sheriff’s Department and authorized matching funds of $249,626 to be funded out of the district maintenance budget. Once the systems are designed and installed, they will improve campus safety and security. Through the cameras, law enforcement also will be able to get up-to-the-minute information on district campuses in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency.
Hart, Placerita, Sierra Vista Projects on Track
Plans for major modernization programs at Hart High School and Placerita and Sierra Vista junior high schools are on track to start this summer, the Facilities Department told the Governing Board last night. Plans for the Placerita work have already been submitted to the Division of State Architect’s (DSA) office for approval, and plans for Hart and Sierra Vista are due to go to DSA in December. The district hopes to go to bid on the Hart science building in about 30 days, with completion projected for next August. The full Hart High project is on an 18-month timeline, and the junior high school projects are expected to break ground next June with a 12-month completion schedule. That would allow the two middle school modernization projects to be completed for the start of the 2008-09 school year, while Hart would be completed by winter break 2009, opening in January of 2010. The Board approved conceptual plans and estimated costs for all three projects in June, and the Facilities Department expects to have more precise budgets and plans ready for presentation to the Governing Board in January.
$60,000 Accepted for Scholarships
The board gratefully accepted a donation for $60,000 from the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation which will fund two $4,000 scholarships and two $1,000 scholarships at each of the district’s comprehensive high schools. The annual grant, which is administered by the SCV Scholarship Foundation, was increased this year to cover the first graduating class at West Ranch High School
Family Involvement Evolves
Family involvement in Hart District schools is evolving, just as the form of the modern family is evolving, according to a report on the Family Involvement segment of the district’s Strategic Plan. Governing Board members were impressed with the wide variety of activities hosted by schools to forge productive partnerships between schools, families and the community. In addition to offering traditional parent volunteer roles, schools are reaching out to families with parenting classes, two-way communication between schools and parents, providing resources to families both at home and in comfortable community settings, and involving parents in key decision making. Schools are creating welcoming environments for parents and scheduling more after-hour programs and resources to meet families’ busy schedules.
Board Authorizes Bid Request for School Buses
The Governing Board has authorized the district to request bids for the purchase of up to four additional school buses. More buses are needed to serve the growing number of students with special need in district schools and to provide back-up when existing buses are out of service. Some costs would be shared by local elementary districts which also share the Hart District’s transportation system. Buses are estimated to cost around $90,000 each, but more precise figures will be available once bids are received.
ROP Requests Waiver to Accept Additional Funds
The district will request a waiver from the State Department of Education allowing the Hart Regional Occupational Program an extra year to spend some $365,000 in additional funds the program received this year. The funds were reallocated when other districts, primarily Los Angeles Unified, did not spend all of their funds. The Hart ROP’s share put it above the program’s legal 15 percent reserve, and the waiver will give the district extra time to use the funds to support the local career-focused program.
Modernization Surpluses Assigned to Close-out Costs
When the modernization program at Arroyo Seco Junior High School was completed this August, the project had $513,015 remaining in the project budget. The Governing Board voted to use some of these surplus funds to hire a service to help obtain final approvals from DSA. That would leave a surplus of $323,015 remaining for Arroyo Seco, which will be returned to the district’s construction funds. In addition, the modernization at Saugus High School was completed with a budget surplus of $1.1 million. The Governing Board voted to transfer up to $475,000 of this surplus to help cover closing costs and some additional landscaping work for Canyon High School’s modernization. After the transfer, the Saugus project will return more than $700,000 in budget surplus to the district.
Placerita, Hart Showcase Literacy Programs
Principals for Hart High and Placerita Junior High impressed the Governing Board with progress they have made on improving student literacy—a goal of the district’s Strategic Plan. Placerita presented STAR test results showing marked increases in student achievement in both math and English at both seventh and eighth grade levels. The school pointed out events such as its Family Reading Night and staff development plans for the current year which focus on the vocabulary students need to be successful across the curriculum. Placerita uses test data to provide student support with such personalized programs as mentoring, extracurricular activities and instructional support programs. Hart High showcased the strides it is making in student literacy through the Read 180 program for ninth graders, and the 10th grade Strategic Reading Program of parallel classes. The school also is focusing on writing across the curriculum, with writing portions required on final exams for all classes. Parents and students are also being invited to Library Night activities to make the best use of school resources and Hart is opening its computer lab in the evening for students and families who do not have computers at home.
Students Take Up District Issues
Student Board Member Sean Herron reported that the Student Communications Council took part in a lengthy discussion on the subject of mandatory random drug testing for students in extracurricular activities. The students were concerned about such issues as the legality, methods, etc. He also noted that many school events had to be cancelled due to the recent fires, and there was some concern because not all students received ConnectED messages about school closings. Some of those calls were returned to the district because of bad phone numbers, and the district is working to update its calling list.
District Moves to Purchase Older Portable Classrooms
The Governing Board approved plans to purchase a number of state-owned portable classrooms for $4,000 each. The state no longer plans to operate its portable leasing program, and the district had the choice of continuing to lease the portables for $4,000 a year, purchase them outright for $4,000, or refurbish them to like-new condition (estimated to cost about $12,500 each) and return them to the state. Purchase of the classrooms will allow the district to sell those it does not need and continue to use those still in service without additional leasing costs. The district currently leases 224 portable classrooms, with 45 in storage. The current purchase plan applies only to 32 relocatable classrooms built between 1988 and 1992. The purchase decision is pending legal approval to spend developer fees for the purchase, since all of the portables were originally leased to house the district’s growing student body.