Accountability Group Addresses the Community

An Open Letter to CCUSD Parents and Interested Community Members

We would like to introduce ourselves. We are Accountability for Culver Education (ACE), a growing group of involved parents and community members who are committed, like you, to making our schools outstanding.

CCUSD has a $12 million capital improvement fund that can only be used for construction-related capital improvements (restricted funds), and not education or salaries (unrestricted, or general funds). The Board has selected four capital improvement projects: 1) improvements to the athletic facilities at the high school; 2) solar energy; 3) improvements to the Robert Frost Auditorium and 4) elevators at CCMS/HS.

We have become very concerned about the process by which the District and the Board have made decisions on the use of these funds. We are seeking their accountability, inclusiveness and collaboration with the community in these efforts.
Some examples are a lack of:
· A fair, competitive selection process to select an architect for the athletics facilities renovations (total contract over $400,000);
· Publicly-available criteria for prioritizing projects, including those that can bring in unrestricted general fund money;
· An active effort to inform citizens/involve them in discussion of these projects, until very recently, after preliminary budgets were set;
· A formal Board vote to set the individual project budgets;
· Correct information regarding how State Modernization Funds may be used which are not limited to the Athletics Complex (per the State website) http://www.documents.dgs.ca.gov/opsc/Publications/Handbooks/SFP_Hdbk.pdf ; and
· Determination by qualified experts instead of District personnel for developing a budget and priorities for the Frost Auditorium and without first resolving the question of whether asbestos containment is needed.
Based on these concerns, we crafted the below set of requests. We sent these to current Board members and to the candidates for the Board of Education. Their responses can be found at our website: http://ccusdparents.tumblr.com/. Some Board members did not respond out of stated concerns about violating the Brown Act.
For more information, or if you wish to join the growing number of parents and citizens in support, please visit the website listed above. This website has been set up specifically to have an open dialogue with the community about CCUSD issues.

11/7/11
Accountability in Culver Education (ACE)
Proposal for an inclusive and collaborative community process in developing a comprehensive plan for CCUSD Capital Improvement Projects
We are a group of committed parents and community members that are interested in working in partnership with the Board and the District to ensure accountability and inclusion in our school governing processes.
Listed below is a set of recommendations to assist the Board and the District in developing a comprehensive plan for CCUSD Capital Improvements. We request that the Board and District introduce these recommendations at the Board meeting on November 8 and approve them at the following Board meeting on November 22.
1. Establish an agreed-upon set of criteria for all capital projects: Criteria may include health and safety, ADA compliance, educational mission/value and the viability of serving as a future revenue source. These criteria could be used to establish RFP guidelines and serve as the framework for prioritizing capital improvement projects and the components within each project.
2. Commit to hiring an expert architect, with demonstrated experience in theater renovations and construction, for the Frost project. This expert would provide a feasibility study that evaluates all aspects of the Frost (health, safety, ADA, sound, electrical, etc) and with providing recommendations to the Board and District for comprehensive repairs, identifying repairs that are needed immediately and creating recommendations for staged renovations in stages, as additional funds become available. This expert should provide an estimated budget for the total project, and the components thereof, based on their experience. The architect should be hired after Request for Qualifications are posted, presented and assessed.
3. Support the Establishment of a Robert Frost Work Group. This group will be charged with identifying specific needed improvements/costs for the Frost and with providing input from active users of the facility and community members. This group will be comprised of qualified volunteer parents, CCUSD teachers using the Frost, involved students, and performance and design experts. This group will provide CCUSD administration and the Frost expert architect with research and background information as well as their feedback on proposed plans throughout the life of the project. The work group will provide the Board with regular updates to assess progress. These updates should be posted on a public site.
4. Establish the following process for hiring experts and soliciting community input:
a. The District and Board should make the experts’ recommendations for each project available to the public, at least 1 week in advance of a public meeting (such as a Board meeting or special Board meeting) at which time the public will be invited to comment on the recommendations;
b. Based on the experts’ recommendations and public input, the Board and District should determine the final cost and scope of each project, which will be released publicly;
c. Once feasibility studies are received, the District and Board commit to re-examining their budget allocations to determine if they continue to be accurate or if they need to be changed or if plans for fundraising need to occur; and
d. Having done the above, the District and Board shall commit to share with the citizens of Culver City the final budget for each project for public comment.

Editor’s Note- The email was sent by Bonnie Wacker. No other names were included in this correspondence.

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