West Contra Costa Board of Education Votes to Pay Off State Debt

At its September 7 meeting, the West Contra Costa Board of Education voted to pay off its debt to the state of California.  The large audience, made up mostly of students, parents and faculty from Lake and Shannon Elementary schools, burst into applause. The debt has been a burden on the district since the early 1990s.

The contigents from Lake and Shannon schools had come to the meeting to demand that their schools, which have been slated for closure, remain open.  After some discussion, the board voted 4-1 to keep the two schools open indefinitely.  Board member Tony Thurmond abstained, stating that he was in favor of keeping the two schools open, but was concerned because a vote to keep the schools open was not on the agenda. Comment on action item F.1 “Resolution No. 15-1112: State Loan Payoff and Budget Implications” did include some discussion of implications of the state budget which mentioned the possible closure of Lake and Shannon, though the closure of the two schools was not listed on the agenda as a separate item.

Once the loan is paid off, the district will no longer have to budget for payment of the loan each year, and will no longer have to pay the $75,ooo per year salary of the state trustee.  Also,the state trustee will no longer have any power over  board of education spending decisions.  This last is especially good news for supporters of adult education, as the state trustee has  repeatedly suggested that the district sweep  adult education funds.  Payment of the debt will make the district both financially healthier and more autonomous.

However, in these financially troubled times, the district may have to contemplate budget reductions in the near future.  Discussion of the resolution to pay off the state loan included a report on district funds which noted that, depending on what happens with the state budget, the board of education may need to look again at its priorities.  Adult education was mentioned as one of the boards present priorities, in that the board has so far avoided  a complete sweep of adult education funds.  Other priorities listed were: maintaining a 180 day school year, K-3 class size reduction using one-time federal funds in 2011-2012, school resource officers, and keeping Shannon Elementary open through 2011-2012.

As noted above, the board voted to keep both Lake and Shannon open for the foreseeable future, thus confirming its commitment to prioritize Shannon.  The board decided to hold off on discussing other priorities until a future meeting.  The vote to pay off the state debt was historic. Lake and Shannon are to be congratulated for their hard-won victories.  Supporters of adult education need to be ready to continue making their case to the board so that adult education remains a priority for the district.



One Response

  1. Thank you, Ms. Pursley, for attending the meeting and posting this report, so that those of us who are interested can coninue on our missions as well as keep up with what is going on from a reliable source.

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