District Plans Outreach To Homeschoolers

Kleier Fires Construction Manager

Paula Harvey, a teacher at El Tejon School and former curriculum coordinator for the district, is developing a community survey to help El Tejon Unified School District learn more about family choices and priorities. They are also interested in what public schools may be able to offer homeschool families.

“We respect their choice and would like to learn what we can do better,” Superintendent Katie Kleier said in an interview Tuesday, Jan. 18. She said Harvey will welcome calls (at 661-248-6247, ext. 6) from homeschooling parents who would like to assist the district’s efforts to learn more about parent choices. Board members John Fleming, Anita Anderson and Ken Hurst voted to form an outreach committee at the January 12 ETUSD board meeting.[UPDATE: Superintendent Katie Kleier said in a phone call Monday, Jan. 24 that all five trustees voted 5-0 in favor of a board representative assisting on this committee. John Fleming and Anita Anderson both said they wish to participate on the outreach committee being organized by Paula Harvey.

Kleier said the 3-2 vote was about having a member of the board of trustees on a special committee to update disrict policies, sometimes also known as "board policies." According to community reporters at the meeting, Trutees Paula Regan and Cathy Wallace indicated concern that it was inconvenient for district staff to have to meet "outside of business hours" on a schedule that accommodates the volunteer trustees’ schedule. Fleming, Anderson and Hurst voted to maintain a board member’s presence on the board policies committee, passing the proposal 3-2. Hurst is reported to have said that he will try to leave work early in the Pasadena area to be avaialble to attend at a time that is convenient for ETUSD staff members.

Construction Management

Trustees were given a detailed log of $330,448 in change orders for the Frazier Park School building project. They were also informed that Kleier has decided to terminate the $365,000 contract for construction management with CM Construction, Inc. and delegate construction management coordination to Fernando Nieto, current director of maintenance, operations and transportation (MOT). Nieto informed trustees that he now plans to allocate 15 hours of his work week to construction management at the Frazier Park site.

CM Construction, Inc. owner Monique Miron said in an interview that she is “very proud” of the work her company did for ETUSD. In regard to the project’s next phase, she said, “I agree with [MOT] Fernando Nieto: the worst part is over; ‘getting out of the ground’ is the hard part, but this is not just a 10 to 15 hour-a-week construction management job.”

Surprises found in excavating for the foundation of the Frazier Park school classrooms resulted in much of the change order expense. Building activities have been stopped at El Tejon School until state matching funds for school construction and modernization are again available.

“The board stated very clearly that they did not intend to offer ‘bridge financing’ to get the other classrooms built,” Miron said. Her company took a cut in their own contract as they terminated contracts with builders standing by to begin work on El Tejon. Building at Frazier Park School is expected to be completed before the 2011- 2012 school year begins.

The $7.12 million school bond was passed in November 2005. Voters were told that 56 percent of the district’s classrooms— aging relocatable structures— needed to be replaced. Former Superintendent John Wight told the voters and the ETUSD board (chaired by Steve Newman) that the state would provide a dollar for dollar match to the bond funds. That turned out to be untrue. Then an error in Wight’s wording of the bond measure on the ballot reduced the district’s options further. After Wight resigned (and quickly left) it was learned that expensive post and beam, rather than modular, construction was required by the bond. In the meantime, the district has lost over 120 students, raising questions about how much capacity is necessary at this time.

This is part of the January 21, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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