Town Hall

PCS Town Hall

October 21, 2008

PCS held a Town Hall forum for the community to clarify issues and positions regarding facilities for the school.  At the forum PCS board member Ken Cole indicated that the PowerPoint slides and questions (with answers) from the audience would be available on the PCS website.  That information has not been made public yet.  If you were there for the Town Hall and took notes, please drop us a line.  Also, please send us any questions you may have submitted that evening.

Thank you for your support and contributions to this community resource.

Update November 18, 2008

Four weeks have passed since the Town Hall meeting that was promoted as a forum to address community questions and concerns. It is now apparent that PCS does not intend to address either the community’s questions or to make available their town hall presentation.  It’s unfortunate that PCS leaders promote cooperation and collaboration when it serves their message, but fail to take real action to partner with the community by making this information available.

Update November 6, 2008

At the regular meeting of the PCS board, board president Deepika Shrestha Ross stated that posting the Town Hall PowerPoint presentation and questions was “in process”. Three weeks and counting.

Update November 2, 2008

Thank you to those who sent in notes from the meeting.  Sadly, PCS has not made the Town Hall slides available to the public. Although we prefer to work from original source material, in the spirit of transparency, the following information is derived from notes taken at the meeting.

Addressing misinformation published on web pages

presented by Board President Deepika Shrestha Ross

  • PCS is required to be located within the Santa Cruz City School district boundaries [as opposed to elsewhere in the county]
  • The racial profile of PCS is supposed to match SCCS [as opposed to the full diversity of Santa Cruz County]
  • The reserve: Board policy is 17% [as opposed to the state requirement of 5%] for economic uncertainty [Note: Absolutely no reference was made to the actual reserves of 48%]

Facility Alternatives

presented by Board Member Ken Cole

1. Swift Street/Multi-Year

The first choice option is to remain at Swift Street, requiring the district to expend facility monies to make physical improvements to the school, e.g. build a theatrical space. “5 years ago it was an elegant solution, it makes sense now, too.” PCS would consider paying more for the space if the district paid for physical changes to the site. Ken Cole confirmed that Natural Bridges cannot be offered to PCS under Prop 39.

2. Prop 39

Shared high school space for 60% of PCS students with another facility nearby leased to accommodate the other 40%. Must be requested annually. “As unappealing as that might be, we have to be willing.”

3. Leased Space “Fail Safe Mode”

Non-SCCS property, single or multi-year lease; would be a result of suing SCCS over Prop 39 rights. [Note: we would appreciate clarification on this option — the notes we received were sketchy.]

4. Permanent Home

Long term lease/purchase or purchase/build. Capital campaign and charter school financing. Permanent home.

Town Hall Questions

At the PCS Town Hall on October 21st, PCS board members collected questions from the audience on index cards. We were told that some of the questions would be addressed that night and the rest would be posted and addressed on the PCS website. That has not happened.  The questions below were sent to us by community members in attendence that night.

  • Why don’t all the school districts help PCS pay for facilities?
  • If the in-district preference is required by law today, wasn’t it also the law last year? And the year before?
  • What was the highest official offer made by PCS during the negotiation to renew the lease?
  • Why would PCS put their kids into such an anxious situation? It looks like Prop 39 is a very bad deal for PCS and it looks like the low offer on rent was a bad idea.  Why not just pay and stay?
  • I have an idea: What if PCS gives $3000 per SCCS student back to SCCS totaling 277 x $3000 = $831,000? That would pay for a LOT of AP classes for district students!
  • I asked about what would happen with the 40% of students not in SCCS with the Prop 39 request, but I think the answer they gave might be wrong.
  • Why was it they only offered 1/2 of their current payment?  What renter does that? If they want to stay, that is.
  • Given that the cash balance in June was more than $1 million MORE than the 17% reserve calls for, doesn’t this mean that PCS is actually capable of paying much more rent than they offered?
  • Why did PCS think that it would be okay to pick only the part of Prop 39 where the district gives them free space for their kids, but ignore all the other parts?
  • I would like Ken Cole to explain this statement: “[We] could still build an in-district population by focusing recruitment efforts…while still technically opening the lottery to everyone.”
  • If the district needs elementary space for elementary kids, why does PCS have a greater right to Natural Bridges than a little kid living down the street?
  • I asked why PCS won’t tell anyone in public how much money they have saved up. Is it even legal for a public school to hold on to that much money — don’t they HAVE to spend it on students?
  • If diversity is such a problem, why doesn’t PCS make a preference for low-income students?  That’s just as legal as the board preference.
  • I have a new question: If that was really a community Town Hall, why didn’t they read ANY of our questions? That was a one-way conversation.

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