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Asking some South Bay voters to approve a school bond measure is a risky proposition. Bond-related corruption charges for Southwestern College and Sweetwater Union High School District have muddied the waters, but the Chula Vista Elementary School District feels confident enough to take the next step forward at the May 22 board meeting.

District spokesperson Anthony Millican said in a May 18 interview that the bond proposal will cover 31 of the district’s oldest schools located in the western portion of Chula Vista.

The district hopes to use the bond funding mainly for technology and infrastructure. One goal is to make the schools wireless for iPads or similar technological enhancements. “You can’t have 21st-century learning without 21st-century tools,” Millican said.

Some humdrum but necessary projects will include relocation of conduits underground, improving storm drainage, and replacing portable classrooms with permanent structures.

The district also hopes to give Rice Elementary School a makeover, aligning classrooms with the needs of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program.

Millican discussed the fact that the South Bay’s west-side student population has declined while the east side has grown to the point that a new school is being built. Millican said he believes Chula Vista’s bayfront development will boost the west-side student population.

According to an April 13 U-T article, “Nearly 65 percent of Chula Vista voters polled appeared amenable to a bond…” The San Francisco–based financial advisory firm Dale Scott & Co. conducted the survey.

Scott said in a May 18 interview that his company has been the financial advisor to the district since 1998.

In addition to the survey, Scott said the company will collect data, write the ballot language, and prepare the underlying financial assumptions for the bond measure.

A voting district has to be created as well; only the Chula Vistans who will be financing the bond through property taxes and receiving the benefits in their neighborhood schools will be voting.

The cost of Dale Scott's services will be rolled into the bond. Because the consultant's work won't be completed until the November election, the cost is an unknown. An April 13 U-T story said the company won't charge if the bond doesn't pass.

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Comments

anniej May 20, 2012 @ 1:01 a.m.

it is sad to think that the alleged corruption at southwestern and sweetwater will cast its shadow over the chula vista elementary school district.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE, SUCH A DIFFERENCE that a board and interim superintendent can make. board member lopez is the only board member sitting on the sweetwater board who seems to understand what her role is - the rest, all about themselves.

i would be interested in knowing if the c. v. elementary district has campaign donation limitations - and would suggest that they do a mailer stating "board members will NOT accept ANY MONIES from ANYONE doing business from the bond monies. just a suggestion.

1

cvres May 20, 2012 @ 8:39 a.m.

"Bond firms' campaign gifts linked to sales pacts"

This is the title of a recent San Francisco Chronicle article...while not directly applicable, it echos what we have learned in this area.

That said, Chula Vista Elementary has had a clean reputation and the schools west of 805 no doubt need some sprucing.

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SurfPuppy619 May 22, 2012 @ 8:20 a.m.

If they need "sprucing" and I do not say they don't, then it should come out of the states funding via Prop 98, where nearly 50% of all general fund taxes already go, and put a freeze on teacher salary and benefits which already average $108K per year for a 37 week work year, 36 contract hours per week. $80 an hour.

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VigilantinCV May 20, 2012 @ 11:51 a.m.

At the present time, FOUR out of the five CVESD Board members got there by being APPOINTED, not by being elected. And apparently they all knew each other before being elected. That practice of resigning early so your fellow Board members can appoint a buddy has got to stop before we will support any bond measure. Those four Board members who have been appointed must all promise NOT to run as an "incumbent" in the next election cycle.

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MauraLarkins May 20, 2012 @ 12:55 p.m.

In a recent study it was discovered that in 110 out of 111 cases, the bond underwriter who was the biggest campaign donor got the job of selling school bonds. California Watch recently wrote, "For donors [to bond campaigns], failure is rare. In only five cases out of 111 did an underwriter make a donation and fail to receive a contract to sell the bonds. In four of those, however, more than one underwriter made donations and the contract went to the firm that had contributed a larger amount to the campaign."

Susan Luzzaro fails to report whether Dale Scott & Co. has made campaign contributions to CVESD bond campaigns or to board incumbents.

1

anniej May 21, 2012 @ 12:48 p.m.

Ms. Larkins: do you have knowledge of Dale Scott & Co contributing that you would like to share?

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MauraLarkins May 21, 2012 @ 8:38 p.m.

Why don't you ask the board members that question? Or perhaps Susan should do that. I spent a short time researching Dale Scott, as you can see by my posts below. I didn't find any data at all about CVESD campaign contributions, although I assume the information is available to the public if you look hard enough. I am quite busy, and I'm not getting paid to write about Dale Scott, as Susan is. I do it purely as a public service. But I'll tell you this, Annie. I'd be willing to bet that Dale Scott has made contributions. If you read the report about Dale Scott by Lozano Smith (see below), I doubt that you'll take that bet.

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MauraLarkins May 20, 2012 @ 1:09 p.m.

San Bruno voters nixed a ballot measure after this very hopeful article was published on page 3 of The Daily Journal in San Mateo County:

"...[P]hone surveys were given to about 800 likely voters in the San Bruno Park Elementary School District recently about a possible parcel tax or bond measure. Both generated strong support,according to results by Dale Scott from San Francisco-based Dale Scott & Company that will be shared at tonight’s meeting. Moving forward could be the next step in a number of budget-related decisions as the district faces a deficit over $1 million in coming school years. About 70.3 percent of people polled supported a parcel tax... above the two-thirds passage threshold required for the measure that could support programs..."

(http://www.scribd.com/doc/48937867/11EDITION)

A San Bruno Patch reader commented:

"As I see it, one of the big lessons learned from the failed Measure O campaign is that Dale Scott & Company isn't the company you want to be taking political advice from as far as political campaigns in San Bruno are concerned."

(http://sanbruno.patch.com/articles/school-board-to-discuss-next-steps-after-measure-o)

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MauraLarkins May 20, 2012 @ 1:28 p.m.

Here is a report by Lozano Smith law firm regarding an investigation into allegations against Dale Scott & Co.:

http://media.redding.com/redd/content/static/gatewayattorney1.pdf

Ironically, Lozano Smith was sanctioned by a federal judge in 2005 in a scathing 80-page decision in which he ordered all the firm's attorneys to take ethics training.

http://parentadvocates.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&articleID=5375

Some of the attorneys left Lozano Smith to form Fagan, Friedman and Fulfrost, which represents CVESD.

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erupting May 20, 2012 @ 5:58 p.m.

If Scott can't predict the costs with a ball park figure and he's made contributions to board members get rid of him, or vote the bond down.

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Susan Luzzaro May 20, 2012 @ 8:46 p.m.

MauraLarkins, Thanks for all the useful links. I don't believe I was writing during the last round of CV elections. However, your point is well taken. I should pay attention to campaign contributions.

1

Visduh May 21, 2012 @ 12:47 p.m.

Any rational So Bay voter should ask if there's any reason to trust this board. Only one was elected, and that's really outrageous. Was there a plague epidemic that killed off all the others who ended up replaced by appointment?

If the voters there support this proposal now, it proves that So Bay voters don't know what's up, what's down, or what's happening. The same kind of apathetic or woefully ignorant voters that put that Sweetwater board in place and also the Southwestern College board in place. Until big changes are made, a big chunk of that bond money will go into the pockets of crooks. And then the residents of the district will be paying it off for twenty to thirty years.

1

eastlaker May 29, 2012 @ 6:13 p.m.

Yes, well, I guess I was one of the 'apathetic or woefully ignorant voters' that allowed the Sweetwater Board to take shape as it has...but what I remember is the air of cultivated inoffensiveness. If you stand for bland, and don't really stick your neck out, apparently it is relatively easy to get elected to the Sweetwater Union Board of Trustees. So if the candidates don't really say anything, some voters tend to think they are "safe". Except we need people to be able to communicate complex issues. And we need people who truly have the best interests of the public at heart. Just for the record, I would like to add that carving out your own comfortable universe (a la the recent superintendents of SUHSD) is NOT in the best interest of the public, the students, or the teachers.

0

MauraLarkins May 21, 2012 @ 8:27 p.m.

I think CVESD is rather typical as far as corruption in schools goes. There are few school districts that allow transparency into their decision-making process. CVESD calls its method of decision-making "collegiality". This means that all arguments take place in secret, before meetings are held. No one really knows what principles, if any, guide the thinking of the board members.

It most certainly isn't just South Bay who voters who "don't know what's up, what's down, or what's happening," to use Visduh's words. (Is Visduh from Vista Unified, perhaps? Now there's another typical dysfunctional school district.)

Even school boards that allow open debate about some issues are quite likely conducting some unsavory business behind closed doors during closed sessions. For example, Capistrano Unified was asked by the Orange County District Attorney to tape its closed sessions, but the district's lawyer, Daniel Shinoff, advised the board to stop taping their closed sessions. The Capistrano board followed Shinoff's advice--not the D.A.'s. This will make it impossible to prove, even in a court of law, how the board is reaching its decisions--and impossible to know if someone is telling board members how to get away with wrongdoing.

1

Visduh May 23, 2012 @ 8:23 p.m.

Yes, it's true that I'm "from" VUSD, but claim no ownership of that district. I've been hoping that when the current board was seated about three years ago things would turn around. They're now in the process of finding the next supe and are repeating all the mistakes made in the last two fills of that job. I despair. I cannot really say when the district has had a really effective educator in that slot. But that's true of most of the local districts. San Diego surely hasn't been any great shakes in that department. South County? Fuhgeddabouddit! East County/ Uhh, none that I can think of. North County? A few, but not many. Times are tough out there, and there's no consensus out there.

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anniej May 23, 2012 @ 2:55 p.m.

it is indeed a shame when typical, corruption, and school board are found in the same sentence.

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