CUB #6
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Community Update Bulletin

By Barry Brucker – President Board of Education BHUSD July ‘99

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a pleasant summer. The second quarter of ‘99 has proven to be bittersweet. I would like to remind everyone that the views expressed in my CUB report are my opinions, and not necessarily that of my colleagues. However, the facts that I relay are just that, facts.

  • Dr. Pellicone: On July 12, 1999 the board placed Dr. Pellicone on paid administrative leave. For the past several months, the BHUSD has provided information to the County of Los Angeles concerning recently audited purchase orders. This matter is not closed and is still under investigation. Initial reports revealed a number of expenditures and reimbursements to the Superintendent that are not authorized under his contract or by California Education Code. Because this is a personnel matter, (by law all personnel matters are not public information) the district‘s legal counsel reviewed and presented the initial audit information at a closed board meeting. Following this presentation, I believe your Board of Education would have been remiss in executing its responsibilities had it not taken this action. Notwithstanding, this has been a painful experience for the Board and the community. Your Board of Education is charged with upholding the standards of educational excellence & ensuring that the business operations and values are not compromised.
  • Interim Superintendent: I am pleased to welcome Dr. Dick Bertain into his new position as Interim Superintendent. Dr. Bertain is no stranger to this district. Over 30 years ago, Dr. Bertain served as Director of Personnel for The BHUSD, and for the past six months, Dr. Bertain has been our Assistant Superintendent of Business Affairs and Finance. Having held the position of Superintendent in other school districts, as well as having private sector experience, Dr. Bertain brings with him experience and strong leadership skills. Earning his Doctorate from Harvard University, Dr. Bertain is well respected by the entire staff. I would like to share a quote from one senior administrator following the July 12th meeting: "We have 400+ employees who will work 24 hours a day to support Dr. Bertain and the children of the district. . .we are not headless".
  • Bungalows: In response to an article from an Environmental Advocacy group, there has been heightened awareness about indoor air quality (IAQ) of our children and staff. Due to class size reduction, over 2 million California students are taught in portable classrooms, which has made this issue a statewide challenge. I believe it is the responsibility of our state to assist our district with the solution to this problem. Therefore, I have written a letter to Governor Gray Davis appealing for his intervention. At the same time, we must still address these issues on a local level while waiting for a response from our Governor. The BHUSD is taking a statewide leadership role in addressing these concerns. We are currently consulting with two independent testing labs, experts in indoor air quality, industrial hygienists, toxicologists and physicians. We have also called on (insisting is a better word) The County Department of Health, State Cal OSHA and The Federal EPA for guidance, direction, and assistance. Along with programs such as "Tools for Schools" (which guides districts in better air quality measures) our newly formed Environmental Safety Committee (composed of Teachers/Staff, Parents, Physicians, City Officials, IAQ Experts and Administrators) will make recommendations to the board for necessary corrective measures. I promise we will do whatever it takes to ensure a safe and healthy working, teaching and learning environment.
  • C.S.I.L.: Construction Site Information Line is a voice mail telephone message recording system that allows the community to access up to date information about our construction progress. Furthermore, this system is provided at no charge by "The Telephone Connection," Community Relation Commissioner Marc O’Krent’s company. This system allows for two-way messages for citizen questions. Check it out at (310) 282-9000. Thank you Marc!
  • Construction/Modernization: After reviewing the construction plans for Beverly Hills High, El Rodeo, Horace Mann and Hawthorne, the Board of Education awarded construction contracts for the High School. With our commitments to complete the Beverly Vista project, we must be fiscally responsible and recognize that at this time there are not enough funds to render a respectable job at the other elementary schools. However, certain health and safety measures along with playground equipment will still be addressed at these school sites.
  • Beverly Vista Modernization: As the single most important project in the district, I believe we can not hold anything back that would delay Beverly Vista’s construction project. While I am supportive of the DEMO plans for buildings A, D & F this summer, it should be noted that some FEMA & SHPO funding will likely be compromised by demolition activity. Please remember, these funds have never been guaranteed and if successful could include serious time delay and financial strings attached. In addition, any delay in the BV demo project could put the district in jeopardy of losing a favorable position for State Prop 1A funding, which is anticipated to be in excess of 2 million dollars! Applications for Proposition 1A funding cannot be filed until construction documents are complete. Note: Please be careful about letters to the editor which may be exaggerated, inaccurate and politically motivated. This is a complex issue and Beverly Vista should not be used as a pawn.
  • Budget Deficit: With an approximate $500K deficit (down from $1,080,000), the district must explore all options in order to maintain fiscal responsibility. With excellence in education as our mandate, our goal is to support as few programming cuts as possible. The Budget Review Committee (composed of Dr. Dick Bertain, BHUSD Director of Finance - Mary Ellen Figueroa, and Board members Allison Okyle and Gerald Lunn) should be commended for the steadfast hours devoted to researching the district finances. The Board will collectively make the final budget cut decisions. My goal is to zero our deficit and not compromise vital programs.
  • Communication: An overriding concern of the school community is how we communicate. Dr. Bertain and your Board have made this a top priority. With our district web site is being updated as we speak, I invite you to check out Board Member Gerald Lunn’s website at: www.geraldlunn.com (Note: with a record breaking 1200 hits this month, it is clear the community is hungry for detailed information.) Check it out!
  • Congratulations Jared Krissman: Student Board member Jared Krissman will be attending the University of Washington this upcoming Fall. Jared provided insight into the students needs, lobbied hard for field lights, a new track and field, and spent numerous hours with PCM3 understanding the complexities of the construction/modernization program. Board Member Krissman made us all proud! As we say a fond farewell to Jared, we welcome Gabriel Halimi as the new Student Board Member. I am sure Gabe will continue the tradition of excellent student representation.
  • Student Achievement: This year marked a first for the Beverly Hills Unified School District as all five of our schools earned the prestigious honor of being designated a California Distinguished School. As a community, we should all be very proud of our students, especially our graduating seniors. SAT test scores were higher than ever before, a direct reflection of our commitment to excellence in education. As a result, Beverly Hills High School students will be represented at some of the finest universities in the country including MIT, Whkkkkkarton School of Business, Stanford, Berkeley, Yale, UCLA, USC and hosts of other fine academic institutions. Along with their stellar academic achievements, the graduating class of 1999 performed more community service hours than any previous class. We are producing smart academic achievers who are community oriented, civic minded, environmentally aware and tolerant young citizens. As members of this fine community, we should feel proud knowing the quality and caliber of these commendable young adults. Remember, we are a California Distinguished School because of our students, teachers, staff, parents and community commitment to education. Yes, we all own a piece of this prestigious honor.

Although your District is faced with some unique challenges, we will continue to make proactive decisions to move this district forward. You have my commitment that I will do everything in my power to lead our district through these obstacles as swiftly yet efficiently as possible. As always please feel free to call, write or e-mail me. I DO want to hear from you and respond to your concerns. I will continue to send community update bulletins on a quarterly basis as a mechanism to keep the lines of communication open. We have a lot of which to be proud, and only together through teamwork can we realize our vision for excellence in education.

Have a happy and restful summer vacation.

 

Barry Brucker-President

Beverly Hills Unified School District

phone: 310-523-4657 (office) 310-550-1114 (home)

fax: 310-329-0943 (office) 310-275-7739 (home)

e-mail: jetinks@aol.com or bbrucker@independentink.com

Please note: No expenses relating to this mailing were borne by the BHUSD

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