|So was your vote|
Out of the original $350 million, there is approximately $240 million in Measure TT bond money left. This money is to be divided up and allocated within the next couple of years. The Board of Education, which is now to be run by a new majority made up of the four subdistricts allowed to elect representatives in 2013, will control this money. The Board of Education, as the body of elected officials, controls everything in the PUSD. Even though we pay taxes we will not be a part of that.
Some of this remaining Measure TT money was supposed to be spent on rebuilding Sierra Madre's partially demo'd Middle School. But since we will not have a representative on the Board of Education at this very crucial time, we will only have limited influence on how that money is to be allocated and spent.
Three out of the four subdistricts allowed to vote in 2013 are considered to comprise some economically disadvantaged areas. The fourth has wealthy areas, and not so wealthy areas. It has long been the opinion of some in the other areas of the PUSD that Sierra Madre is somehow the privileged partner. That we don't need to have our educational requirements met because we somehow already have all that we will ever really need.
What they do not know, or even care to find out, is that there are two Sierra Madres. An upper middle class, much of which arrived fairly recently, and a working class Sierra Madre, which is comprised of families that have been here for far longer. It is their children that make up the lion's share of Sierra Madre kids who attend PUSD schools here, and they are the ones who are about to be punished for somebody else's bizarre experiment in social engineering.
Like I said, do the math. Four PUSD subdistricts are about to have de facto control of $240 million dollars in Measure TT bond money dropped in their laps. The Board of Education, which they will run, won't include an elected representative from us, and our voices will not be heard. Under those circumstances can we really expect to receive our fair share? And if not, what happens then to the Middle School?
Tonight at City Hall the Pasadena Unified School District's lame duck Board of Education will tell us that everything is alright. The Middle School will be built they will claim, and even though we'll have no say because we won't get to elect a Board representative, everything will be fine and dandy.
But how can they really know? Some of them won't even be on the Board of Ed in a month. After the March election the new majority of Board members, the very first subdistrict representatives ever, will be calling the shots. Representatives that answer to their subdistricts and not the school district as a whole.
The Board of Education we'll be hearing from tonight is a lame duck legislative body, and has no right telling us to "don't worry and be happy." They have no real idea what the future will hold, their influence will soon be gone and therefore the reassurances we will hear from them tonight are meaningless.
One more thing. We will, of course, continue to be taxed to support the PUSD. Yet for those two critical years we will not have a representative to speak for us. Taxation without representation. Ever heard of it? That is what the people coming to our City Hall tonight gave to us. This meeting matters.
Wise Friend: I was reading an article that talked about the legalities required now for representation in public voting, and all of the voting districts are being segregated instead of at-large now. Ostensibly because at-large elections favored old white guys.
If Measure A does not pass, the Board will continue to be elected at large for numbered seats. Continuing to have an at large form of election has been asserted to violate the California Voting Rights Act (California Elections Code §§ 14025-14032) for not providing proper representation of the diverse interests of the voters, and could result in potential liability for damages, fees and costs if it were challenged in court.
It has figured prominently in other school district elections:
It looks like this principle was manipulated in its implementation of the sub-district representation, and may have been of benefit to both certain parts of PUSD and the City of Pasadena. Sierra Madre was unfairly screwed in the assignment of representational voting, and the people responsible for speaking up simply let it go by, leaving an entire city without a voice at a critical time in PUSD fiscal planning. To leave an entire city out is just asking for a huge backlash and a probable secession. Sticks out like a sore thumb.
BOE has a snarky problem, having to do with the money from the State drying up for educational programs, which is totally separate from funding for physical school infrastructure (via Bond & grant money), and a dwindling attendance in a large district area.
Families seem to be leaving the attendance area, which reduces the program's cash flow. They're closing schools as a result. But they can't close Sierra Madre's schools because that would be a political disaster. Sierra Madre would have no incentive to stay in the district.
The Pasadena Educational Foundation contributes about $3M per year. Here's the Tom Selinske PR on that, which is why he runs the shop (click here).
The State formula has changed, don't know where the resulting cuts will hit the PUSD. But the folks who went to bat for the money in Sacramento and are community networkers seemed to be well represented.
I suspect that because Sierra Madre did not speak very loudly in the PUSD vote or from its City-designated representatives, and isn't seen as a big contributor via PEF, it got the short shrift. The Middle School fiasco is definitely somebody's serious screwup, attributable to the Measure TT bond cash flow problems. But there's never any accountability in this system, and Sierra Madre is not taking definitive actions to leave the PUSD, so they don't worry about it. I'm reading talk about finishing the project, which has now DSA approval, for $32M and a smaller scope of work.
So it seems that the incomplete school is the only real commitment that PUSD has over here. PHS is apparently the High School for the Sierra Madre kids. So there's no real stake in it for PUSD, other than a few more bodies for state revenue.
I don't know if a switch to Arcadia USD would solve this kind of a problem, after the Sierra Madre Middle School construction is finished. It leaves Sierra Madre in the same boat, unless an agreement is forged up front that perhaps Sierra Madre School goes charter and establishes a Sierra Madre School Foundation and gets some grants in its area of specialty. That way the Arcadia kids (largely Chinese now) have another alternative lower school with some kind of special emphasis.
Or work the same deal with PUSD and see what happens. There needs to be a core of self-organized educational leadership in Sierra Madre, not defaulted to City Council. THAT's the problem.
Tony Brandenburg: How to Speak at a Board or Council Meeting
Speaking at a public meeting with a local governing board can be very intimidating and confusing. There are a few suggestions I would make to help anyone who wishes to take the time to read them.
1.Know your comfort zone. If you are uncomfortable speaking in public, but want to make your voice heard, there are different ways to do this.
a. Written Statement. One is to simply go up, state your name, notify the board that you are entering a written public comment, and hand a written statement to the central authority figure. It never hurts to have one for each member and one for the recording clerk.
b. Group Presentation. This one is helpful if you and a group of people are there for the same reason. Have the comfortable speaker do the talking and stand behind them as a unified group. It is very powerful.
2. Be direct. It never hurts to have a written statement. Besides keeping you focused, you can enter the written statement into public record (see above.)
3. Know how much time you have to speak and plan accordingly. In general you will have three minutes to speak on an item. It can go by quickly. If there are many public comments the time may be reduced to two minutes.
a. Time your presentation. Time yourself and adjust your presentation as needed. Two to three minutes can fly by quickly. Have a plan for being cut off.
b. Relay - The easiest time remedy is simply to have another person in your party to speak on the topic and pick it up at some time after you do. Be sure to have the speaker’s card filled out for this eventuality. Be aware that you may not “delegate” which means the second speaker (whomever picks it up) is really making a separate comment at whatever time they are called forth.
c. Ask for more time. Unless there is a good reason not to, the central authority figure will simply give you a minute or two on request.
d. Ask to be agendized. If you know you will need a great deal of time, ask in advance to be agendized. You can do that at a meeting for a future meeting, or submit a request. Being agendized gives you up to ten minutes to speak on your own agendized item. Keep in mind the central authority figure can deny the request.
4. Determine when is the best time to speak. There are always topics on agenda that the public may speak on, and every meeting has a time indicated for agendized and non-agendized items. Speak to the item that concerns you. In doing so it opens up the possibility for dialogue and frees up the board/council to speak on an item.
Tonight’s Board of Education and Sierra Madre Council Meeting
There are many times to speak at tonight’s meeting. You may, or may not have to fill out a card to speak. At Sierra Madre City Council meetings you generally just walk up to speak. It is quite relaxed. At PUSD Board Meetings you need to fill out a yellow card.
Because tonight’s meeting is home court, it is possible they will run it the Sierra Madre way, however, as I expect there could be a high turn out, it may be a card situation.
Tonight’s agenda is here (click here) and there are four opportunities the public has to speak
First Public Comment - This can be on agendized, or non-agendized items. It occurs after the flag salute. After each discussion item public comment is generally allowed as well. Technically, whichever item concerns you is when you would present or speak. Theoretically you could speak up to 4 times tonight, if you so choose.
The other three items are:
1. Pasadena Unified School District – Construction Update
2. Update regarding Measure TT Bond Funds for Sierra Madre Schools
3. Parking Concerns at PUSD Campuses in Sierra Madre
Keep in mind that if you ask questions they generally won’t be answered, but they can be only on agendized items. If I were to ask, for example, “Why isn’t there a fence around the school?” the question would be left hanging unless it was done during an item regarding school safety.
On the upside, this is an election year, and there are people running for office. They may be more willing to tell you what you hope to hear, and more likely to try to help you solve whatever concerns you have. However, I prefer the person who is willing to say what you don’t want to hear. Therein lies the key to solving the problems, whatever they may be.
Good luck to you, whomever you are, and wherever you stand on whatever issue. If you have never gotten involved in local politics before, welcome aboard. You are about to discover why nothing ever gets done.