Commentary: The School Board–Where they got it right, Where they got it wrong

It was with great sadness that the Davis Joint Unified School District made their decision in the end to support the closing of Valley Oak. There are a number of mistakes that have been made along the way, some by this school board, some by the district under the leadership of David Murphy as Superintendent, and some by the previous School Board. All said it is a very complicated process and I think the public needs to understand where actual fault lies and where this school board has done the right things.

We start once again with David Murphy. I hear the consistent complaints from the public and from Valley Oak parents looking suspiciously toward the district paying for two superintendents. There is much to criticize this board for. The superintendent situation however, in my opinion, is not one of them. First of all, the blame needs to rest with the previous school board. When BJ Kline, Joan Sallee, and Marty West left office in 2005, at the 11th hour they extended by a 4-1 vote, the contract of David Murphy for three additional years. Jim Provenza was the only no vote. They did this to protect Murphy from the new board. They also wrote into his contract a provision that required that any termination of Murphy by the new school board would still require that he be paid in full for the entire length of his contract.

There are a whole host of reasons why Murphy needed to go, really we have already discussed many at length, the King High School debacle being one of the more recent ones and that was quite a bit of money that the district lost. But look no further than the debacle with Montgomery Elementary School. Deputy Superintendent for Business Tahir Ahad formed his own private educational consulting company while still employed by the school district. He took with him several current and former employees of the district. The District was aware of this situation and there was no attempt made by the board majority or the administration to put an end to this situation. The attitude was that Tahir was brilliant and could do anything.

However, Tahir would miss filing paperwork for a critical deadline for the Montgomery Elementary School that would cost the district $5 million. It does not take a lot of math, to understand why it would probably be more financially sound to eat $160,000 to $200,000 on an additional superintendent rather than taking a chance on further financial debacles. It also doesn’t take much to realize how much losing $5 million would impact the district’s overall budget.

So despite the apparent unseemliness of the arrangement, it is my view that the district did what they had to do with regards to the superintendent situation.

Where I criticize the majority of the school board is how the Task Force report was handled. The previous board named this Task Force. It was not originally designed to be a close the school task force. However, at a very early stage Chair Kirk Trost decided that a school had to be closed and that it needed to be Valley Oak. Trost then turned his mission into an advocacy mission and all findings directed him toward those ends. This is not the role a Task Force should have played. The final report read like a legal brief rather than either an academic paper or a Task Force report with a number of alternatives and with specific research to justify assumptions and conclusions.

Rather the Task Force should have been there to provide the District with an array of alternatives that they could then choose from. This Task Force took the decision making effectively away from the District. The members felt obligated to follow the direction and advise of this board that had spent considerable time.

This was no more evident when not only did the board defer to the Task Force on the issue of enrollment and demography, but so did the interim Superintendent. This despite the fact that the Task Force had no particular expertise with demography and had in fact driven the process by selecting which assumptions should be made–assumptions that ran against what the demographers (the actual experts) would have suggested. My unfortunate first impression of Interim Superintendent Richard Whitmore is unfortunately a negative one. I am grateful to the board for making the right decision on firing Murphy, but they left Murphy’s staff largely in place and that showed on Monday night.

I honestly believe that the decision to close Valley Oak for both Gina Daleiden and Tim Taylor was an exceedingly difficult decision. While I do not agree with them on their final analysis, I also believe they they shared the best interest in of the students.

However, I think Tim Taylor made a monumental error for both the Valley Oak parents and the district as a whole by making a well-intentioned attempt at compromise.

The district relies on the parcel tax to account for 5.5% of their budget and fund a number of very important programs. It must be renewed every so often with a two-thirds vote by the electorate.

Board Member Tim Taylor made the suggestion that a second parcel tax be placed on the ballot. It could only win if the first parcel tax won. And the second would fund Valley Oak Elementary and enable it to stay open. If it fails in the fall of 2007, Valley Oak would close in 2008.

Taylor was attempting to give the Valley Oak parents an alternative. It was a well-intentioned move by him, however he made a large error by bowing to Keltie Jones’ browbeating of him on the issue of having the two parcel taxes on the ballot. Jones was concerned that the second one being on the ballot may doom the first one. The compromise means that they will poll the parcel tax to determine if having the second parcel tax on the ballot will cause the first one to lose.

Jones, overreacted and failed to recognize that by having a large and energetic group from Valley Oak working to pass both parcel taxes, it made it more likely to pass.

However, if the board makes the determination that having the second parcel tax on the ballot would harm the first parcel tax and decides to stick with only the original parcel tax, that would create a potential backlash. Moreover, given the numerous problems that have beset the district, the passage of the main parcel tax is no longer a given.

It may be that the parcel tax was in jeopardy even before and without this issue. But tying the issues together may cripple it regardless no matter what the district does.

The bottom line here is that it was probably a mistake to close a school before a critical election was held on the parcel tax. The closing of the school comes before the new enrollment figures of the fall. They may show another rise in enrollment, in which case, some of these fears may be false. Moreover, as Board President Provenza has suggested on multiple occasions there is no current financial crisis.

In the end and despite protests to the contrary, the board made this decision too quickly without a full exploration of alternative funding sources. In fact, the administration never addressed the issue of how it could keep open nine schools financially. They spoke at length about how to close down a school and in what time frame, but there were never really alternatives presented.

In the end, I guess the saddest part of this is that this school was a successful school and that the district closed it down because of concerns that were not directly related to its performance.

My enduring memory from this issue will be the sight late Monday night of parents with tears streaming down their faces as the district had made it clear that Valley Oak was closing. And that is something that I will never forget.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Budget/Taxes

76 comments

  1. Resisting the political pressure of the well-organized, affluent and ANGRY Mace Ranch parents to open THEIR school K-6 at all costs called for a large measure of ” backbone”. Only 2 or the 5 current board members stood up to this challenge. Ms. Keltie Jones(reportedly “retiring” soon from the board) was the driving force in this decision to take this VO matter out of the hands of the next school board. This has a disturbing similarity to the scenerio of Murphy’s contract extension by the last outgoing board majority vote,4-1(was Ms.Jones a member of THAT board that voted for Mr. Murphy’s contract extension?)

  2. Resisting the political pressure of the well-organized, affluent and ANGRY Mace Ranch parents to open THEIR school K-6 at all costs called for a large measure of ” backbone”. Only 2 or the 5 current board members stood up to this challenge. Ms. Keltie Jones(reportedly “retiring” soon from the board) was the driving force in this decision to take this VO matter out of the hands of the next school board. This has a disturbing similarity to the scenerio of Murphy’s contract extension by the last outgoing board majority vote,4-1(was Ms.Jones a member of THAT board that voted for Mr. Murphy’s contract extension?)

  3. Resisting the political pressure of the well-organized, affluent and ANGRY Mace Ranch parents to open THEIR school K-6 at all costs called for a large measure of ” backbone”. Only 2 or the 5 current board members stood up to this challenge. Ms. Keltie Jones(reportedly “retiring” soon from the board) was the driving force in this decision to take this VO matter out of the hands of the next school board. This has a disturbing similarity to the scenerio of Murphy’s contract extension by the last outgoing board majority vote,4-1(was Ms.Jones a member of THAT board that voted for Mr. Murphy’s contract extension?)

  4. Resisting the political pressure of the well-organized, affluent and ANGRY Mace Ranch parents to open THEIR school K-6 at all costs called for a large measure of ” backbone”. Only 2 or the 5 current board members stood up to this challenge. Ms. Keltie Jones(reportedly “retiring” soon from the board) was the driving force in this decision to take this VO matter out of the hands of the next school board. This has a disturbing similarity to the scenerio of Murphy’s contract extension by the last outgoing board majority vote,4-1(was Ms.Jones a member of THAT board that voted for Mr. Murphy’s contract extension?)

  5. “Resisting the political pressure of the well-organized, affluent and ANGRY Mace Ranch parents to open THEIR school K-6 at all costs called for a large measure of ‘backbone.'”

    The problem was NEVER the opening of Korematsu. That really had to be done and should have been done. Korematsu is the neighborhood school for Mace Ranch, and Mace Ranch has far more kids than the Davis Manor neighborhood has. It also has more low-income families with kids than East Davis has.

    Unless you don’t believe in neighborhood schools, you ought to feel that it was right to build Korematsu and it ought to have been opened.

    The real problem ultimately goes back to a couple of factors, one of which was controllable by the school board, the other not.

    First is that the housing market in Davis has become, since 2000, very expensive. That has tended to price out young families. You can’t blame the DJUSD for that situation.

    Second, the school district, going back at least as far as the opening of Cesar Chavez, has abandoned the emphasis on neighborhood schools. While I am a strong supporter of language immersion, having it concentrated at the Anderson Road campus has taken away students from all of the neighborhood elementaries in town. (I’m still unsure why closing Cesar Chavez and moving those students back to their neighborhood schools in immersion classrooms was not considered over closing Valley Oak.) Though GATE is located at VO, it has had this same effect of drawing kids out of their neighborhood schools. And I believe their are other specialty programs doing the same kind of thing. If we closed CCE and slightly redrew the boundary lines, we could keep 8 evenly populated neighborhood elementaries open.

  6. “Resisting the political pressure of the well-organized, affluent and ANGRY Mace Ranch parents to open THEIR school K-6 at all costs called for a large measure of ‘backbone.'”

    The problem was NEVER the opening of Korematsu. That really had to be done and should have been done. Korematsu is the neighborhood school for Mace Ranch, and Mace Ranch has far more kids than the Davis Manor neighborhood has. It also has more low-income families with kids than East Davis has.

    Unless you don’t believe in neighborhood schools, you ought to feel that it was right to build Korematsu and it ought to have been opened.

    The real problem ultimately goes back to a couple of factors, one of which was controllable by the school board, the other not.

    First is that the housing market in Davis has become, since 2000, very expensive. That has tended to price out young families. You can’t blame the DJUSD for that situation.

    Second, the school district, going back at least as far as the opening of Cesar Chavez, has abandoned the emphasis on neighborhood schools. While I am a strong supporter of language immersion, having it concentrated at the Anderson Road campus has taken away students from all of the neighborhood elementaries in town. (I’m still unsure why closing Cesar Chavez and moving those students back to their neighborhood schools in immersion classrooms was not considered over closing Valley Oak.) Though GATE is located at VO, it has had this same effect of drawing kids out of their neighborhood schools. And I believe their are other specialty programs doing the same kind of thing. If we closed CCE and slightly redrew the boundary lines, we could keep 8 evenly populated neighborhood elementaries open.

  7. “Resisting the political pressure of the well-organized, affluent and ANGRY Mace Ranch parents to open THEIR school K-6 at all costs called for a large measure of ‘backbone.'”

    The problem was NEVER the opening of Korematsu. That really had to be done and should have been done. Korematsu is the neighborhood school for Mace Ranch, and Mace Ranch has far more kids than the Davis Manor neighborhood has. It also has more low-income families with kids than East Davis has.

    Unless you don’t believe in neighborhood schools, you ought to feel that it was right to build Korematsu and it ought to have been opened.

    The real problem ultimately goes back to a couple of factors, one of which was controllable by the school board, the other not.

    First is that the housing market in Davis has become, since 2000, very expensive. That has tended to price out young families. You can’t blame the DJUSD for that situation.

    Second, the school district, going back at least as far as the opening of Cesar Chavez, has abandoned the emphasis on neighborhood schools. While I am a strong supporter of language immersion, having it concentrated at the Anderson Road campus has taken away students from all of the neighborhood elementaries in town. (I’m still unsure why closing Cesar Chavez and moving those students back to their neighborhood schools in immersion classrooms was not considered over closing Valley Oak.) Though GATE is located at VO, it has had this same effect of drawing kids out of their neighborhood schools. And I believe their are other specialty programs doing the same kind of thing. If we closed CCE and slightly redrew the boundary lines, we could keep 8 evenly populated neighborhood elementaries open.

  8. “Resisting the political pressure of the well-organized, affluent and ANGRY Mace Ranch parents to open THEIR school K-6 at all costs called for a large measure of ‘backbone.'”

    The problem was NEVER the opening of Korematsu. That really had to be done and should have been done. Korematsu is the neighborhood school for Mace Ranch, and Mace Ranch has far more kids than the Davis Manor neighborhood has. It also has more low-income families with kids than East Davis has.

    Unless you don’t believe in neighborhood schools, you ought to feel that it was right to build Korematsu and it ought to have been opened.

    The real problem ultimately goes back to a couple of factors, one of which was controllable by the school board, the other not.

    First is that the housing market in Davis has become, since 2000, very expensive. That has tended to price out young families. You can’t blame the DJUSD for that situation.

    Second, the school district, going back at least as far as the opening of Cesar Chavez, has abandoned the emphasis on neighborhood schools. While I am a strong supporter of language immersion, having it concentrated at the Anderson Road campus has taken away students from all of the neighborhood elementaries in town. (I’m still unsure why closing Cesar Chavez and moving those students back to their neighborhood schools in immersion classrooms was not considered over closing Valley Oak.) Though GATE is located at VO, it has had this same effect of drawing kids out of their neighborhood schools. And I believe their are other specialty programs doing the same kind of thing. If we closed CCE and slightly redrew the boundary lines, we could keep 8 evenly populated neighborhood elementaries open.

  9. The school board ALWAYS votes to extend (or not) the superintendent’s contract at precisely the same time every year. And the extension is for ONE year, not three. THIS school board will be no different with THIS superintendent.
    There was nothing extraordinary in Mr. Murphy’s contract. Mr. Murphy replaced Eva Long at a time when the district teachers were “working to contract” and preparing to strike. The board couldn’t negotiaite with the DTA in good faith because no one could read the budget. If anyone recalls, the district paid Eva Long out of her contract. (And also the previous principal of Valley Oak.)Standard procedure. The deputy superintendent of finances left and Mr. Murphy and Mr. Ahad were brought on board to sort out the mess. Ahad tore the books apart and reorganized them so the board could understand them. The labor dispute with the DTA was settled amicably; relations stayed amicable throughout Mr. Ahad and Mr. Murphy’s tenure at DJUSD.
    Mr. Ahad already had his business up and running. His contract stipulated he would work four days a week here, and one day at his private consulting firm. How do you think he brought in the very best administrators to our district?
    “Taking them with him?” Their choice. They all had contracts with the district. They all also worked for Mr. Ahad’s Total Schools Solutions. It is generally recognized as a good thing to have employees learning and gaining experience in the field. It only adds to their performance on the job.
    King High money was always there. Pity this mean-spirited board voted to fire Mr. Ahad three days before his last contract day. It would have been handy to have been able to have phoned the man and ask, “By the way, in what account are those funds?”
    And if you’re really concerned about mismanagement, ask why it took this board from Jan. to Aug. to decide on a new financial superintendent leaving left the district adrift without a superintendent of finances for months.
    This board keeps saying they’ve been left with a mess and are trying to clean it up. What mess? Despite deep cuts in school funding, the DJUSD hasn’t laid off a teacher or cut one program in the past seven years. (Look around at neighboring districts and see if that’s true there!) Labor relations with the DTA have been amicable.
    Three schools have been built. The Parcel Tax passed.
    The district is running in the black despite a temporary drop in enrollemnt 2003-2005.

  10. The school board ALWAYS votes to extend (or not) the superintendent’s contract at precisely the same time every year. And the extension is for ONE year, not three. THIS school board will be no different with THIS superintendent.
    There was nothing extraordinary in Mr. Murphy’s contract. Mr. Murphy replaced Eva Long at a time when the district teachers were “working to contract” and preparing to strike. The board couldn’t negotiaite with the DTA in good faith because no one could read the budget. If anyone recalls, the district paid Eva Long out of her contract. (And also the previous principal of Valley Oak.)Standard procedure. The deputy superintendent of finances left and Mr. Murphy and Mr. Ahad were brought on board to sort out the mess. Ahad tore the books apart and reorganized them so the board could understand them. The labor dispute with the DTA was settled amicably; relations stayed amicable throughout Mr. Ahad and Mr. Murphy’s tenure at DJUSD.
    Mr. Ahad already had his business up and running. His contract stipulated he would work four days a week here, and one day at his private consulting firm. How do you think he brought in the very best administrators to our district?
    “Taking them with him?” Their choice. They all had contracts with the district. They all also worked for Mr. Ahad’s Total Schools Solutions. It is generally recognized as a good thing to have employees learning and gaining experience in the field. It only adds to their performance on the job.
    King High money was always there. Pity this mean-spirited board voted to fire Mr. Ahad three days before his last contract day. It would have been handy to have been able to have phoned the man and ask, “By the way, in what account are those funds?”
    And if you’re really concerned about mismanagement, ask why it took this board from Jan. to Aug. to decide on a new financial superintendent leaving left the district adrift without a superintendent of finances for months.
    This board keeps saying they’ve been left with a mess and are trying to clean it up. What mess? Despite deep cuts in school funding, the DJUSD hasn’t laid off a teacher or cut one program in the past seven years. (Look around at neighboring districts and see if that’s true there!) Labor relations with the DTA have been amicable.
    Three schools have been built. The Parcel Tax passed.
    The district is running in the black despite a temporary drop in enrollemnt 2003-2005.

  11. The school board ALWAYS votes to extend (or not) the superintendent’s contract at precisely the same time every year. And the extension is for ONE year, not three. THIS school board will be no different with THIS superintendent.
    There was nothing extraordinary in Mr. Murphy’s contract. Mr. Murphy replaced Eva Long at a time when the district teachers were “working to contract” and preparing to strike. The board couldn’t negotiaite with the DTA in good faith because no one could read the budget. If anyone recalls, the district paid Eva Long out of her contract. (And also the previous principal of Valley Oak.)Standard procedure. The deputy superintendent of finances left and Mr. Murphy and Mr. Ahad were brought on board to sort out the mess. Ahad tore the books apart and reorganized them so the board could understand them. The labor dispute with the DTA was settled amicably; relations stayed amicable throughout Mr. Ahad and Mr. Murphy’s tenure at DJUSD.
    Mr. Ahad already had his business up and running. His contract stipulated he would work four days a week here, and one day at his private consulting firm. How do you think he brought in the very best administrators to our district?
    “Taking them with him?” Their choice. They all had contracts with the district. They all also worked for Mr. Ahad’s Total Schools Solutions. It is generally recognized as a good thing to have employees learning and gaining experience in the field. It only adds to their performance on the job.
    King High money was always there. Pity this mean-spirited board voted to fire Mr. Ahad three days before his last contract day. It would have been handy to have been able to have phoned the man and ask, “By the way, in what account are those funds?”
    And if you’re really concerned about mismanagement, ask why it took this board from Jan. to Aug. to decide on a new financial superintendent leaving left the district adrift without a superintendent of finances for months.
    This board keeps saying they’ve been left with a mess and are trying to clean it up. What mess? Despite deep cuts in school funding, the DJUSD hasn’t laid off a teacher or cut one program in the past seven years. (Look around at neighboring districts and see if that’s true there!) Labor relations with the DTA have been amicable.
    Three schools have been built. The Parcel Tax passed.
    The district is running in the black despite a temporary drop in enrollemnt 2003-2005.

  12. The school board ALWAYS votes to extend (or not) the superintendent’s contract at precisely the same time every year. And the extension is for ONE year, not three. THIS school board will be no different with THIS superintendent.
    There was nothing extraordinary in Mr. Murphy’s contract. Mr. Murphy replaced Eva Long at a time when the district teachers were “working to contract” and preparing to strike. The board couldn’t negotiaite with the DTA in good faith because no one could read the budget. If anyone recalls, the district paid Eva Long out of her contract. (And also the previous principal of Valley Oak.)Standard procedure. The deputy superintendent of finances left and Mr. Murphy and Mr. Ahad were brought on board to sort out the mess. Ahad tore the books apart and reorganized them so the board could understand them. The labor dispute with the DTA was settled amicably; relations stayed amicable throughout Mr. Ahad and Mr. Murphy’s tenure at DJUSD.
    Mr. Ahad already had his business up and running. His contract stipulated he would work four days a week here, and one day at his private consulting firm. How do you think he brought in the very best administrators to our district?
    “Taking them with him?” Their choice. They all had contracts with the district. They all also worked for Mr. Ahad’s Total Schools Solutions. It is generally recognized as a good thing to have employees learning and gaining experience in the field. It only adds to their performance on the job.
    King High money was always there. Pity this mean-spirited board voted to fire Mr. Ahad three days before his last contract day. It would have been handy to have been able to have phoned the man and ask, “By the way, in what account are those funds?”
    And if you’re really concerned about mismanagement, ask why it took this board from Jan. to Aug. to decide on a new financial superintendent leaving left the district adrift without a superintendent of finances for months.
    This board keeps saying they’ve been left with a mess and are trying to clean it up. What mess? Despite deep cuts in school funding, the DJUSD hasn’t laid off a teacher or cut one program in the past seven years. (Look around at neighboring districts and see if that’s true there!) Labor relations with the DTA have been amicable.
    Three schools have been built. The Parcel Tax passed.
    The district is running in the black despite a temporary drop in enrollemnt 2003-2005.

  13. “It also doesn’t take much to realize how much losing $5 million would impact the district’s overall budget.”

    Speaking of $5 million, can anyone tell me why the school district still has not sold the Grande property? A deal was in place more than a year ago to sell (or exchange) that lot for about $5.5 million. Yet it still sits vacant, unused, and I’m certain the DJUSD could use that cash. It would be enough money to keep VO open for at least a decade.

    “I am grateful to the board for making the right decision on firing Murphy, but they left Murphy’s staff largely in place and that showed on Monday night.”

    The gist of your argument in support of the firing and paying off of Murphy is that the District cannot take the chance that in the next 2 years, he would have made some horrendous financial mistake. It really has nothing to do with the lost $5 million from Montgomery, because that is sunk cost. That money cannot reappear. (He probably could not have been fired by this board for that mistake, because the previous Board extended his contract after it was known that the $5 million was lost.) Yet, if Murphy’s entire staff is still in place, then what really is the point of firing Murphy, now? Would it not have made better sense to slowly change out all of Murphy’s subordinates over the next two years and permit Murphy’s contract to expire at that time? It seems to me that we are now paying a double premium and getting the same worthless insurance policy. I’d rather that the Board saved the money and just kept a closer watch on what Murphy and his minions were doing for two years.

  14. “It also doesn’t take much to realize how much losing $5 million would impact the district’s overall budget.”

    Speaking of $5 million, can anyone tell me why the school district still has not sold the Grande property? A deal was in place more than a year ago to sell (or exchange) that lot for about $5.5 million. Yet it still sits vacant, unused, and I’m certain the DJUSD could use that cash. It would be enough money to keep VO open for at least a decade.

    “I am grateful to the board for making the right decision on firing Murphy, but they left Murphy’s staff largely in place and that showed on Monday night.”

    The gist of your argument in support of the firing and paying off of Murphy is that the District cannot take the chance that in the next 2 years, he would have made some horrendous financial mistake. It really has nothing to do with the lost $5 million from Montgomery, because that is sunk cost. That money cannot reappear. (He probably could not have been fired by this board for that mistake, because the previous Board extended his contract after it was known that the $5 million was lost.) Yet, if Murphy’s entire staff is still in place, then what really is the point of firing Murphy, now? Would it not have made better sense to slowly change out all of Murphy’s subordinates over the next two years and permit Murphy’s contract to expire at that time? It seems to me that we are now paying a double premium and getting the same worthless insurance policy. I’d rather that the Board saved the money and just kept a closer watch on what Murphy and his minions were doing for two years.

  15. “It also doesn’t take much to realize how much losing $5 million would impact the district’s overall budget.”

    Speaking of $5 million, can anyone tell me why the school district still has not sold the Grande property? A deal was in place more than a year ago to sell (or exchange) that lot for about $5.5 million. Yet it still sits vacant, unused, and I’m certain the DJUSD could use that cash. It would be enough money to keep VO open for at least a decade.

    “I am grateful to the board for making the right decision on firing Murphy, but they left Murphy’s staff largely in place and that showed on Monday night.”

    The gist of your argument in support of the firing and paying off of Murphy is that the District cannot take the chance that in the next 2 years, he would have made some horrendous financial mistake. It really has nothing to do with the lost $5 million from Montgomery, because that is sunk cost. That money cannot reappear. (He probably could not have been fired by this board for that mistake, because the previous Board extended his contract after it was known that the $5 million was lost.) Yet, if Murphy’s entire staff is still in place, then what really is the point of firing Murphy, now? Would it not have made better sense to slowly change out all of Murphy’s subordinates over the next two years and permit Murphy’s contract to expire at that time? It seems to me that we are now paying a double premium and getting the same worthless insurance policy. I’d rather that the Board saved the money and just kept a closer watch on what Murphy and his minions were doing for two years.

  16. “It also doesn’t take much to realize how much losing $5 million would impact the district’s overall budget.”

    Speaking of $5 million, can anyone tell me why the school district still has not sold the Grande property? A deal was in place more than a year ago to sell (or exchange) that lot for about $5.5 million. Yet it still sits vacant, unused, and I’m certain the DJUSD could use that cash. It would be enough money to keep VO open for at least a decade.

    “I am grateful to the board for making the right decision on firing Murphy, but they left Murphy’s staff largely in place and that showed on Monday night.”

    The gist of your argument in support of the firing and paying off of Murphy is that the District cannot take the chance that in the next 2 years, he would have made some horrendous financial mistake. It really has nothing to do with the lost $5 million from Montgomery, because that is sunk cost. That money cannot reappear. (He probably could not have been fired by this board for that mistake, because the previous Board extended his contract after it was known that the $5 million was lost.) Yet, if Murphy’s entire staff is still in place, then what really is the point of firing Murphy, now? Would it not have made better sense to slowly change out all of Murphy’s subordinates over the next two years and permit Murphy’s contract to expire at that time? It seems to me that we are now paying a double premium and getting the same worthless insurance policy. I’d rather that the Board saved the money and just kept a closer watch on what Murphy and his minions were doing for two years.

  17. A little history:
    If Mace Ranch hadn’t voted down the school bond in 97, FTK would have been open six years ago.
    Where is Sue Greenwald now after her “Send Them A Message Campaign” so effectively torpedoed the 1997 school bond?
    FTK would have been up and running three years ago if Mace Ranch hadn’t threatened to torpedo the last parcel tax if it included all the money needed to build the three new schools. The parcel tax was figured on half the needed amount instead. The district had to rely on matching funds from the state to get all three built.
    Matching funds for Davis were held up at the state level when LA and Oakland sued the state to make the funds available on a need based priority dispursal. More delays.
    Finally, when the state was running low on funds, it kicked back our application, along with over 69 other districts’, for FTK funds on an obscure, rarely enforced technicality. Our other two applications, for Harper and Montgomery had gone through without a hitch WITHOUT that obscure requirement. Unfortunately, once the application was resubmitted, the district’s enrollemnt had dropped and the state determined that Davis did not need another elementary school.

  18. A little history:
    If Mace Ranch hadn’t voted down the school bond in 97, FTK would have been open six years ago.
    Where is Sue Greenwald now after her “Send Them A Message Campaign” so effectively torpedoed the 1997 school bond?
    FTK would have been up and running three years ago if Mace Ranch hadn’t threatened to torpedo the last parcel tax if it included all the money needed to build the three new schools. The parcel tax was figured on half the needed amount instead. The district had to rely on matching funds from the state to get all three built.
    Matching funds for Davis were held up at the state level when LA and Oakland sued the state to make the funds available on a need based priority dispursal. More delays.
    Finally, when the state was running low on funds, it kicked back our application, along with over 69 other districts’, for FTK funds on an obscure, rarely enforced technicality. Our other two applications, for Harper and Montgomery had gone through without a hitch WITHOUT that obscure requirement. Unfortunately, once the application was resubmitted, the district’s enrollemnt had dropped and the state determined that Davis did not need another elementary school.

  19. A little history:
    If Mace Ranch hadn’t voted down the school bond in 97, FTK would have been open six years ago.
    Where is Sue Greenwald now after her “Send Them A Message Campaign” so effectively torpedoed the 1997 school bond?
    FTK would have been up and running three years ago if Mace Ranch hadn’t threatened to torpedo the last parcel tax if it included all the money needed to build the three new schools. The parcel tax was figured on half the needed amount instead. The district had to rely on matching funds from the state to get all three built.
    Matching funds for Davis were held up at the state level when LA and Oakland sued the state to make the funds available on a need based priority dispursal. More delays.
    Finally, when the state was running low on funds, it kicked back our application, along with over 69 other districts’, for FTK funds on an obscure, rarely enforced technicality. Our other two applications, for Harper and Montgomery had gone through without a hitch WITHOUT that obscure requirement. Unfortunately, once the application was resubmitted, the district’s enrollemnt had dropped and the state determined that Davis did not need another elementary school.

  20. A little history:
    If Mace Ranch hadn’t voted down the school bond in 97, FTK would have been open six years ago.
    Where is Sue Greenwald now after her “Send Them A Message Campaign” so effectively torpedoed the 1997 school bond?
    FTK would have been up and running three years ago if Mace Ranch hadn’t threatened to torpedo the last parcel tax if it included all the money needed to build the three new schools. The parcel tax was figured on half the needed amount instead. The district had to rely on matching funds from the state to get all three built.
    Matching funds for Davis were held up at the state level when LA and Oakland sued the state to make the funds available on a need based priority dispursal. More delays.
    Finally, when the state was running low on funds, it kicked back our application, along with over 69 other districts’, for FTK funds on an obscure, rarely enforced technicality. Our other two applications, for Harper and Montgomery had gone through without a hitch WITHOUT that obscure requirement. Unfortunately, once the application was resubmitted, the district’s enrollemnt had dropped and the state determined that Davis did not need another elementary school.

  21. Just to keep the facts correct,Isn’t BJ Kline the only one(and he lost)of these 4 school board members who went or plan to go before the voters with their decisions? This does have a problem with the democratic(small d)”smell test”.

  22. Just to keep the facts correct,Isn’t BJ Kline the only one(and he lost)of these 4 school board members who went or plan to go before the voters with their decisions? This does have a problem with the democratic(small d)”smell test”.

  23. Just to keep the facts correct,Isn’t BJ Kline the only one(and he lost)of these 4 school board members who went or plan to go before the voters with their decisions? This does have a problem with the democratic(small d)”smell test”.

  24. Just to keep the facts correct,Isn’t BJ Kline the only one(and he lost)of these 4 school board members who went or plan to go before the voters with their decisions? This does have a problem with the democratic(small d)”smell test”.

  25. There are no Murphy’s minions. In case you hadn’t noticed, by Aug. 2006, the district offices were a ghost town.
    Grande deal could have gone through if the new board hadn’t pulled out thinking they could get a better deal.
    Gives one pause ,don’t it, when this board asserts that they can move the district offices out of B St. and redevelope that city block.
    FYI: Funds from property sales cannot be used by the district for general operating expenses. Grande has nothing to do with Valley Oak.
    Likewise the $5 million from the state. It was only for building and facilities. Couldn’t have been used for Valley Oak.
    They could have waited and let Murphy retire. THAT would have saved the district in operating expenses.
    And creating three new administrative positions each at the $100,000 plus/yr. level. Now THAT could have saved Valley Oak…
    In the end, it has nothing to do with real finances. No deficit, enrollments rising, achievement gap closing…
    This board did not have the will to keep Valley Oak.

  26. There are no Murphy’s minions. In case you hadn’t noticed, by Aug. 2006, the district offices were a ghost town.
    Grande deal could have gone through if the new board hadn’t pulled out thinking they could get a better deal.
    Gives one pause ,don’t it, when this board asserts that they can move the district offices out of B St. and redevelope that city block.
    FYI: Funds from property sales cannot be used by the district for general operating expenses. Grande has nothing to do with Valley Oak.
    Likewise the $5 million from the state. It was only for building and facilities. Couldn’t have been used for Valley Oak.
    They could have waited and let Murphy retire. THAT would have saved the district in operating expenses.
    And creating three new administrative positions each at the $100,000 plus/yr. level. Now THAT could have saved Valley Oak…
    In the end, it has nothing to do with real finances. No deficit, enrollments rising, achievement gap closing…
    This board did not have the will to keep Valley Oak.

  27. There are no Murphy’s minions. In case you hadn’t noticed, by Aug. 2006, the district offices were a ghost town.
    Grande deal could have gone through if the new board hadn’t pulled out thinking they could get a better deal.
    Gives one pause ,don’t it, when this board asserts that they can move the district offices out of B St. and redevelope that city block.
    FYI: Funds from property sales cannot be used by the district for general operating expenses. Grande has nothing to do with Valley Oak.
    Likewise the $5 million from the state. It was only for building and facilities. Couldn’t have been used for Valley Oak.
    They could have waited and let Murphy retire. THAT would have saved the district in operating expenses.
    And creating three new administrative positions each at the $100,000 plus/yr. level. Now THAT could have saved Valley Oak…
    In the end, it has nothing to do with real finances. No deficit, enrollments rising, achievement gap closing…
    This board did not have the will to keep Valley Oak.

  28. There are no Murphy’s minions. In case you hadn’t noticed, by Aug. 2006, the district offices were a ghost town.
    Grande deal could have gone through if the new board hadn’t pulled out thinking they could get a better deal.
    Gives one pause ,don’t it, when this board asserts that they can move the district offices out of B St. and redevelope that city block.
    FYI: Funds from property sales cannot be used by the district for general operating expenses. Grande has nothing to do with Valley Oak.
    Likewise the $5 million from the state. It was only for building and facilities. Couldn’t have been used for Valley Oak.
    They could have waited and let Murphy retire. THAT would have saved the district in operating expenses.
    And creating three new administrative positions each at the $100,000 plus/yr. level. Now THAT could have saved Valley Oak…
    In the end, it has nothing to do with real finances. No deficit, enrollments rising, achievement gap closing…
    This board did not have the will to keep Valley Oak.

  29. I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on the past. However, the way things look from today, the comments made by the second anonymous on this page seem to be correct. Mr. Ahad must have done something right if he supervised the building of three schools in declining enrollments and managed to keep the budget without deficit.

    I am grateful for Mr. Rifkin for bringing up the point about Cesar Chavez, which we brought up in our presentation to the Board on Thursday, March 15, as well. Why not close Cesar Chavez as a site and divide the immersion program between the neighborhood sites and balance the enrollments among eight neighborhood schools? This is a very serious question on which the Task Force report does not even spend a single word.

    As for Mr. Taylor’s compromise, I cannot help but make the following analogy: let’s imagine we had a budget crisis to pay the salaries of our Board members. I know their salaries are symbolic and do not cost us more than a few hundred dollars a month, but for the sake of argument, let’s just assume that their salaries were the reason our budget was not balancing. So in order to balance our budget we decided to place a measure on the ballot. My simple question is how would Mr. Taylor feel if that ballot measure read “Tim Taylor’s salary” as opposed to the “salaries of our five board members,” or as opposed to the cost of the salaries being added to a general measure about district expenditures. I would imagine that he would be insulted for being singled out. This is exactly how I feel about this second measure: insulted in the name of my neighborhood. I am sure some of my neighbors would disagree with me, but I know quite a few who feel the same way.

    Baki

  30. I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on the past. However, the way things look from today, the comments made by the second anonymous on this page seem to be correct. Mr. Ahad must have done something right if he supervised the building of three schools in declining enrollments and managed to keep the budget without deficit.

    I am grateful for Mr. Rifkin for bringing up the point about Cesar Chavez, which we brought up in our presentation to the Board on Thursday, March 15, as well. Why not close Cesar Chavez as a site and divide the immersion program between the neighborhood sites and balance the enrollments among eight neighborhood schools? This is a very serious question on which the Task Force report does not even spend a single word.

    As for Mr. Taylor’s compromise, I cannot help but make the following analogy: let’s imagine we had a budget crisis to pay the salaries of our Board members. I know their salaries are symbolic and do not cost us more than a few hundred dollars a month, but for the sake of argument, let’s just assume that their salaries were the reason our budget was not balancing. So in order to balance our budget we decided to place a measure on the ballot. My simple question is how would Mr. Taylor feel if that ballot measure read “Tim Taylor’s salary” as opposed to the “salaries of our five board members,” or as opposed to the cost of the salaries being added to a general measure about district expenditures. I would imagine that he would be insulted for being singled out. This is exactly how I feel about this second measure: insulted in the name of my neighborhood. I am sure some of my neighbors would disagree with me, but I know quite a few who feel the same way.

    Baki

  31. I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on the past. However, the way things look from today, the comments made by the second anonymous on this page seem to be correct. Mr. Ahad must have done something right if he supervised the building of three schools in declining enrollments and managed to keep the budget without deficit.

    I am grateful for Mr. Rifkin for bringing up the point about Cesar Chavez, which we brought up in our presentation to the Board on Thursday, March 15, as well. Why not close Cesar Chavez as a site and divide the immersion program between the neighborhood sites and balance the enrollments among eight neighborhood schools? This is a very serious question on which the Task Force report does not even spend a single word.

    As for Mr. Taylor’s compromise, I cannot help but make the following analogy: let’s imagine we had a budget crisis to pay the salaries of our Board members. I know their salaries are symbolic and do not cost us more than a few hundred dollars a month, but for the sake of argument, let’s just assume that their salaries were the reason our budget was not balancing. So in order to balance our budget we decided to place a measure on the ballot. My simple question is how would Mr. Taylor feel if that ballot measure read “Tim Taylor’s salary” as opposed to the “salaries of our five board members,” or as opposed to the cost of the salaries being added to a general measure about district expenditures. I would imagine that he would be insulted for being singled out. This is exactly how I feel about this second measure: insulted in the name of my neighborhood. I am sure some of my neighbors would disagree with me, but I know quite a few who feel the same way.

    Baki

  32. I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on the past. However, the way things look from today, the comments made by the second anonymous on this page seem to be correct. Mr. Ahad must have done something right if he supervised the building of three schools in declining enrollments and managed to keep the budget without deficit.

    I am grateful for Mr. Rifkin for bringing up the point about Cesar Chavez, which we brought up in our presentation to the Board on Thursday, March 15, as well. Why not close Cesar Chavez as a site and divide the immersion program between the neighborhood sites and balance the enrollments among eight neighborhood schools? This is a very serious question on which the Task Force report does not even spend a single word.

    As for Mr. Taylor’s compromise, I cannot help but make the following analogy: let’s imagine we had a budget crisis to pay the salaries of our Board members. I know their salaries are symbolic and do not cost us more than a few hundred dollars a month, but for the sake of argument, let’s just assume that their salaries were the reason our budget was not balancing. So in order to balance our budget we decided to place a measure on the ballot. My simple question is how would Mr. Taylor feel if that ballot measure read “Tim Taylor’s salary” as opposed to the “salaries of our five board members,” or as opposed to the cost of the salaries being added to a general measure about district expenditures. I would imagine that he would be insulted for being singled out. This is exactly how I feel about this second measure: insulted in the name of my neighborhood. I am sure some of my neighbors would disagree with me, but I know quite a few who feel the same way.

    Baki