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School board talks final budget figures

Assistant superintendent contract, Coyote Creek principal, teachers union negotiations among other topics

The San Ramon Valley school district finished last school year with a balanced budget and general fund reserves slightly higher than originally estimated, according to a recent report to the school board.

In 2014-15, the district's general fund saw $275.9 million in revenues and $271.1 million in expenditures, according to chief business officer Scott Anderson's presentation on the unaudited final financial figures from last fiscal year.

Approximately $19 million of general fund revenues came from local donations and boosters, Anderson said during his 25-minute report to the board earlier this month.

Overall, 86% of general fund expenditures went toward employee salaries and benefits. When breaking down expenditures by function, 83% of the general fund went toward instruction, instruction-related and pupil-services costs, he added.

The general fund finished 2014-15 with an ending balance of $37.3 million, a reserve of 9.5% -- about 0.8% higher than initially estimated, Anderson said.

He also highlighted unaudited actuals for other key district funds, noting that the building fund ended the year at $179.6 million (about $170 million of which are Measure D funds) and reminding the board that the adult education and deferred maintenance funds were closed during the year with the remaining monies transferred to the general fund and earmarked for those respective purposes.

The school board voted 4-0 to approve the financial report on the 2014-15 unaudited actuals. Anderson said the district's external audit is expected to presented to the board on Jan. 26.

Board president Denise Jennison was absent from the one-hour, 40-minute public meeting Sept. 8 at the district administrative complex in Danville.

In other business

* The school board approved a two-year contract with Keith Rogenski to become the district's new assistant superintendent of human resources.

Rogenski, who most recently held the same position in Dublin, was offered the San Ramon Valley job last month.

His contract begins Sept. 28 and runs through June 30, 2017.

Rogenski will earn an annual salary of $195,868 under the contract, and then become eligible for a 5% longevity increase in July 2018 and every three years thereafter, dependent upon above-satisfactory performance reviews and contract renewals.

The current contract calls for his work year to be 225 days, and he's entitled to 24 vacation days and 15 sick-leave days annually.

* The board formally confirmed the principal switch at San Ramon's Coyote Creek Elementary School that occurred in mid-August.

Mike Biondi resigned as Coyote Creek principal effective Aug. 10 after agreeing to become director of curriculum and instruction in the San Mateo-Foster City School District.

Bill Alpert, who spent seven years as the school's assistant principal, was named interim principal effective Aug. 12. Alpert has worked in education since 1996, including 13 years of teaching in Concord, according to school district spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich.

School board members officially approved Biondi's resignation and Alpert's appointment Sept. 8 while voting on a series of personnel changes. Leona Lam, former teacher on special assignment at Twin Creeks Elementary, was also named interim assistant principal at Coyote Creek.

* The board endorsed a proposal to add evaluation procedures to the list of topics to be discussed during contract talks between the district and the San Ramon Valley Education Association.

The other bargaining topics, which both parties agreed to, are class size, health and welfare benefits, hours of employment, assignment and transfer, salaries, leaves and a proposed new contract article on special education and services.

* Board members adopted a resolution declaring Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month in the district.

* Kathy Moore, the district's curriculum/Common Core coordinator, gave a presentation on "Words Matter," highlighting the helpful and harmful power of words and the importance of literacy across the educational spectrum.

* The board heard from three speakers on the proposed instructional calendar change, with one parent and one student voicing support for a change that would have the first semester end before winter break while the other parent speaker expressed skepticism about the district's calendar-change reasoning and its consideration process.

The student speaker, Luke Haley, California High's associated student body (ASB) president, told the school board that the Cal High leadership program supports the calendar change.

The three people spoke during citizen input on non-agendized items. Board members said they could not respond to the comments because the calendar change was not listed on the meeting's agenda.

* In other non-agenda comments, Dougherty Valley High senior Nikhil Vaidyamath criticized the district's policy on mathematics course advancement, calling the rules "unjust" based on his experience trying to test into calculus without having taken the precalculus course.

"My superiors used to tell me that a number does not define who you are nor does it represent your capabilities. But these same people are now telling me that I cannot advance into calculus simply because I did not receive a high-enough score on the advancement test," he said. "How can you put a yearlong and intricate course into a 60-question test and expect high school students to do well on the test?"

Vaidyamath proposed district officials also take into account a student's grade in their prior math class, overall grade-point average, SAT math subject test results and ACT score when considering whether to grant an advancement request.

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