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|Orange County, CA||November 2, 2010 Election|
Why did the SAUSD remodel their headquarters while laying off teachers and classified staff?
By Arturo "Art" Pedroza, MBACandidate for Board Member; Santa Ana Unified School District
This information is provided by the candidate
Why did the SAUSD remodel their headquarters while laying off teachers and classified staff? The remodeling is still ongoing!Here is another SAUSD scandal you may have forgotten. The following excerpts come to us courtesy of the OC Weekly. They broke the story that the Santa Ana Unified School District's administrators spent a fortune remodeling their District headquarters + at a time when teachers and classified staff were being laid off! I am told that some of the remodeling is still ongoing.
In 2007, the Santa Ana Unified School District's (SAUSD) lease on an office building on Alton Street was set to expire. The district decided to stop leasing this and two other facilities and instead move several departments to SAUSD-owned buildings, including the main office. SAUSD took out a $29 million loan, $22 million of which would be used for the move and construction of a new warehouse.
The district left itself some wiggle room when it came to spending the money: A report put out by the investment company that issued the loan states that money was to be used "primarily" for the relocation of those departments. And, much to the consternation of some SAUSD employees and at least one school-board trustee, the district has done some wiggling--without informing the public about it.
During the move, which was completed earlier this year, administrators of the 54,000-student district also decided to use the loan money to make additional renovations at its headquarters, which included moving and revamping several departments and individual offices.
Three departments--the Educational Technology and Media Center, Instructional Media Center, and the Information Technology Center--were relocated to the lower floor on the northwest corner of the district office earlier this year, as outlined in floor plans presented to the public in 2007. This spring, additional construction began in the far-west wing of the building, an area never identified for renovations in the floor plans.
"During a time of fiscal crisis, wouldn't it be prudent for staff to announce that the remodeling of the district offices went beyond what was necessary?" asks board member John Palacio.
District employees who spoke to the Weekly on condition of anonymity say that additional renovations at the district office picked up speed after the arrival last February of Joe Dixon, the former head of facilities for the beleaguered Capistrano Unified School District. Dixon was appointed assistant superintendent for Governmental Relations and Facilities at a salary of $164,000 per year. Soon after, he initiated the repainting, re-carpeting, and knocking down and building of walls for the Facilities department's new offices (including the blending of two former offices for his own). "He didn't have to do much; he just shifted some desks around," Burrell says. "There was no remodel."
Records later obtained include vague descriptors for renovations and construction bids at district headquarters made between May and October 2008 and paid for by the Relocation Project fund. The invoices are dated well after the originally planned relocations of other departments to the district office had been completed. It's unclear if these invoices were for work done to the Facilities department or other internal office conversions, such as Business Services and Purchasing, which have also been added to the original Relocation Project. Among the invoices are: $8,481 for "heat and a/c for two new offices"; $1,588 for "window tinting" in "area of C135 in district office" (Area C135 refers to one of the old Building Services offices that was converted into part of the Facilities department offices); a total of $21,920 spent between June and July for "various patching and wall repairs"; two bids totaling $16,819 for two sets of double doors submitted in late October; $13,849 for a heating pump and cooling system for a "new Plan Room building at district offices."
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