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What will happen to Mt. Diablo district Measure C funds designated for closed schools?

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, February 28th, 2011 at 12:14 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

One of the many unanswered questions regarding the Mt. Diablo school board’s decision to close Holbrook Elementary and Glenbrook Middle School in Concord is: What will happen to the Measure C funds designated for improvements on those campuses?

Before the Measure C election in June, the district posted general categories of improvements on its website, but didn’t give the public an itemized list showing what was planned, including costs. Now, the general information appears to have been removed from the website link, which was previously available by clicking on “Website with more information about Measure C including individual school plans” here: http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Pages/measurecjune2010.aspx.

Here’s what was planned at each site (from the district’s “2010 Facilities Master Plan Update/Proposed Bond Program Profile: 2010 Facilities Improvement Plan,” which has not been posted online, to my knowledge):

GLENBROOK MIDDLE SCHOOL: 13 items costing $3.65 million
Solar panels: $1,285,528
Centralized irrigation: $16,486
Roofing system: $144,268.75
Windows: $36,002.10
Door hardware: $24,240
Floor covering: $47,815.95.
Restroom renovation: $295,200.
Food service: code improvements: $45,593.25
Electrical security system: $140,524.86
Telecommunications: $70,0000
Network cabling and upgrades: $120,912
Technology classroom enhancements: $213,487.50
Middle school science lab cluster: $1,214,000
TOTAL: $3,654,058.41

HOLBROOK ELEMENTARY: 20 items costing nearly $2.7 million
Solar panels: $791,094
Centralized irrigation: $9,346
Concrete repairs: $25,350
Paved playground repairs: $19,107.75
Playground equipment replacement: $49,500
Fencing replacement: $6,650
Exterior doors: $16,250
Roofing system: $14,462.50
Windows: $50,774.40
Door hardware: $4,040
Floor covering: $37,968.
Restroom renovation: $246,000.
Food service: code improvements: $43,112.85
Classroom air conditioning: $977,637.
Administrative air conditioning: $2,673.
Kitchen air conditioning: $22,750
Electrical security system: $96,027.58
Fiber optic backbone: $58,0000
Network cabling and upgrades: $78,000
Technology classroom enhancements: $143,467.50
TOTAL: $2,692,210.58

TOTAL FOR BOTH SCHOOLS: $6,346,269 or more than $6.3 million

The district applied for and received California Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBS) for the solar panels, with specific amounts designated for each site.

Glenbrook didn’t need air conditioning, because it already has it (El Dorado and Valley View, which most Glenbrook students will be transferred to, don’t yet have air conditioning.)

Superintendent Steven Lawrence said he would use some Measure C money to explore the idea of building a new high school in Bay Point (or possibly upgrading an existing campus to make it a high school). No cost estimates have been shared with the board yet regarding this idea.

What do you think the district should do with the $6.3 million in Measure C funds designated for Holbrook and Glenbrook?

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  • Doctor J

    I guess the voters were actually going to expect the district to stick to the list so the list disappears. Hmmm. Maybe there is some “heat” on how the bond campaign was handled.

  • Poseidon

    The district has to either do the planned maintenance so that the schools remain available for other uses that can generate dollars for the district or they have to tear them down and sell the property for pennies on the dollar. I for one do not think the district should sell any property. There is always a chance that the district may need those properties for future uses. Take a look at Pleasant Hill High School when it closed. They didn’t need the high school, but years later they needed the site as a middle school. Had they sold it and received a little money for the property, they would have been in real trouble when the middle school population expanded. Maybe the district can reevaluate the need for all upgrades and maintenance work, but they definitely need to maintain the properties.

    Hey Dr. J, can you name 3 good things that the board and superintendent have done in the last 12 months? I’m just curious if you are actually interested in making the district a better place or is it satisfying enough just to rant about things you claim are negative.

  • 4Students

    Poseidon,
    In your first paragraph, the last sentence makes sense, but the first sentence is confusing the term maintenance. If the district spends $6.3 million for “maintenance” on empty closed school sites, then they will lose all hope of public trust and accountability. Last year Measure C voters understood that funds would not be wasted at closed schools.
    At the same time, other open school sites are waiting for repairs and a/c that was promised in 2002, and our technology capabilities are prehistoric. So you want to take care of the buildings instead of educating the children? The Superintendent’s messages say “Where Kids Come First” – it should be more than words.

    Theresa,
    Any news on upcoming Measure C Oversight Committee meetings?

  • Doctor J

    @Poseidon Paul: 3 Good things: 1. Hired Kirk Berger to teach the Supt and Board the proper role of each, and emphasize a Strategic Plan. 2. BEGAN the evaluation of closing schools [after a great start, it went downhill fast] 3. Paul Strange declined to run after one disasterous term on the board and Cheryl Hansen was elected, sworn in, and has started getting the Board and Supt looking for a vision in establishing a Strategic Plan. See http://www.cherylhansenmdusd.com/

  • Athena

    Poseidon,
    So I take it you are all for the District leasing the closed schools? If they did decide to sell the schools, why tear them down? Aren’t there charter schools willing to take these spaces and provide a much need opportunity for “school choice” in this District?

  • Theresa Harrington

    No, I haven’t yet been able to find out yet when the next meeting will be held. The “Measure C” tab on the district’s website links to various planned projects: http://169.199.90.240/.
    Last Tuesday, the board approved the issuance of $11 million more in bond funding: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=3640&mtgId=298.
    According to the resolution, the board has determined that the bond sale is so complex that it has agreed to a “negotiated” deal (instead of a competitive process) and will pay 1.75 percent of the principal as “costs of issuance” through a contract with its “Finance Team”‘ of Stone & Youngberg LLC and George K. Baum & Company, as underwriters, Isom Advisors, a Division of Urban Futures Incorporated, Walnut Creek, California, as Financial Advisor, the
    law firm of Matt Juhl Darlington & Associates, Chico, California, as Bond Counsel and Disclosure Counsel to the District and Jones Hall, a Professional Law Corporation, as Special Tax Counsel to the District. “An Authorized Officer is hereby authorized to execute a legal services agreement with members of the finance team,” the resolutions states.
    The terms of the bonds shall not exceed the maximum rate permitted by law, or in the case of taxable bonds described in ARRA, at rates not to exceed 12.0% per annum … through a date no later than 40 years after the date of issuance of the Bonds….”
    Also according to the board-approved document, the proceeds from the new sale are to be used for “to construct new classrooms at
    College Park High School and Concord High School, to renovate the swimming pools at College Park High School and Mt. Diablo High School and to undertake repairs to the multi-use facilities at certain
    District elementary schools.
    [In addition, the District intends to deposit a portion of the proceeds of the Series D Bonds into the Debt Service Fund to pay a portion of the interest on the Bonds through _______, 2011.]”
    Weren’t these swimming pool renovations planned before the 2010 Measure C election?
    Before the new issuance, the district had issued about $110 million in bonds, leaving about $238 million. It anticipated paying about $237 in debt service for the initial bonds.
    The district is projecting that it will spend $300.2 million in 2010-11, or nearly $31.8 million MORE than its adopted budget of $268.4 million, according to page 28 of the “Preliminary Official Statement.”
    For no apparent reason, this portion of the document is underlined: “The Preliminary Official Statement did not and the Official Statement does not as of its date (excluding therefrom information relating to The Depository Trust Company, its book-entry system, and information provided by the Underwriter, the
    County or County officers) contain any untrue statement of a material fact or omit to state a material fact necessary to make the statements therein, in the light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading…”
    The document states that bonds will not be sold at interest rates that exceed those in “Exhibit A.” Unfortunately, Exhibit A has a blank space where the interest rate should go. In fact, none of the pertinent information is filled in.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I just received this information in an e-mail from Pete Pedersen:

    “The last Citizens Bond Oversight Committee meeting took place on December 16, 2010. That meeting was preceded by meetings on September 6,2010 and August 12, 2010. The next meeting is scheduled for March 17, 2011 at 7:00 PM in the Board Room.”

    He said minutes haven’t been posted online, but he hopes the Measure C website can be updated “as early as Friday, March 4.”

  • 4Students

    Thank you Theresa – I’ll be checking the Measure C website on March 4!

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Theresa: Can you tell us which entities on the “Finance Team” were also contributors to the Measure C campaign? (I know you published a list of contributors, but I can’t seem to find it in your Blog.) I recall that Stone & Youngberg, one of the co-lead underwriters, was on that contributor list. (Fortunately, as Gary Eberhart has assured us, there is no conflict of interest at MDUSD between contributors and vendors, even when that much money is sloshing around.)

    Also odd that they went all the way to Chico, CA to find bond counsel.

    Now that the bond issuance is regarded as “too complex” to attract competitive bids, MDUSD is doing a “negotiated” deal, where the negotiation is held with just one party. Some negotiation! Also, one wonders how well the bonds will sell in the market, when the deal is “too complex” even for financial institutions to understand and bid on. Will investors be able to understand it? The fear, of course, if investors truly understand the bond, is that they won’t want to lend money to MDUSD for 42 years, at least at the originally projected rate. I’m sure they can find investors if the rate is high enough — and ARRA let’s them go all the way up to 12%!!

  • Wait a Minute

    Jim, Negotiations held with just one party huh.

    Beginning to sound alot like Lawrence’s meetings at his house, in bars, and at the golf course (all expenses paid) with Chevron regarding a no-bid contract for the Solar.

    Meanwhile a MDUSD board member (Sherry Whitmarsh) works for Chevron!!! Bring on the Grand Jury.

    Apparently the bond counsel from Chico are good buddies with Greg Rolen and Lawrence. I’m sure there are plenty of alternatives in a region as large as the Bay Area afterall.

    More conflicts of interest no doubt.

  • Doctor J

    @Jim & Wait: Yeah, the relationship with Rolen and the Chico attorney are cozy — the Chico attorney had no experience as bond counsel, and had to “associate” a bond counsel specially to get the referral. That means he pays her less than he is getting from MDUSD — why not just hire her directly and pay less ? Oh, its Measure C money and doesn’t come out of the General Fund. MDUSD pays out more than $600,000 in outside legal fees when it could pay much less if it employed its own attorneys and made them work 2000 billable hours like most law firms do. Instead, we gave Rolen a huge raise as part of the Gang of Five, and let him now run the disasterous bussing and maintenance operations. Plus, there are the rumors of why he is getting a divorce.

  • Long-time Board Watcher

    Is the committee that’s been overseeing the “old” Measure C now also overseeing the “new” Measure C? That could be reassuring. That group of community members has been meeting regularly for years so is knowledgeable and experienced in reviewing bond and construction management reports.

    However, it looks like all the members of the “Finance Team” are different from those who assisted the district with the original Measure C and with Measure A. Don’t know what to make of that change. Matt Juhl Darlington does have a long working relationship with the district. As a lawyer in a large San Francisco law firm, he advised district staff for years, primarily in regard to Special Education law. A couple of years ago he left that firm and formed his own general practice, based in Chico.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Jim, here’s the link to my previous post about Measure C campaign contributions: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2010/08/04/late-mdusd-campaign-contributions-reveal-nearly-100000-in-donations/.
    Here’s a rundown of the “Finance Team” contributions:
    Stone & Youngberg (underwriters): $30,000 (including late contribution);
    George K. Baum and Co., Denver, (bond underwriters): $15,000;
    Matt Juhl-Darliington (bond counsel): $10,000 (including late contribution).
    The district entered into contracts with all three of these firms before the Measure C election.
    The Feb. 22 board-approved documents state that no money was paid in exchange for the negotiated agreement.
    Longtime board watcher: I believe some of the Measure C committee members may be the same, but a new oversight committee was formed for the 2010 measure.

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Thank you, Theresa. Once again, what would we do without our local paper and their reporters to keep an eye on these things? I hope every participant on these blogs has a subscription to the CC Times. We need to support local media like the Times. The broadcasters long ago abandoned this kind of coverage, and most websites, like my own, rely on traditional reporters for the news that is discussed. We would sorely miss this kind of coverage if it disappeared.

  • Susan Laufer

    El Dorado Middle School should have air conditioning installed before students arrive for school this coming September. This would be a perfect use of Measure C funds that will not be used because Glenbrook is to be closed and many of the students will be sent to El Dorado in September. The El Dorado plant is not fit for teaching or learning on hot days. This would be a big improvement and would lift everyone’s moral.