Teachers worry about shaky district financesBy Staff
A multi-million dollar loan consolidation to address ongoing financial problems facing the San Mateo Union High School District will be considered tonight as teachers raise concerns that deeper problems need to be explored.
On Nov. 7, 2000, voters approved Measure D, a $137.5 million general obligation bond measure used for modernization at the district's six school sites. Since then three loans were taken out to cover additional costs. The district is looking to combine these loans and reevaluate the repayment plan tonight.
Teachers are concerned this shows bigger financial problems. This school year is plagued with financial problems as it kicked off with $3.5 million in budget cuts. Since then, contract negotiations with all teachers and employees haven't come to a conclusion. These additional money problems should shine a light that teachers health care demands aren't the culprit causing the financial downturn, said Teachers Association President Craig Childress.
The $30,000 difference between the coverage wanted by the teachers and the benefit cap the district is proposing is a drop in the bucket compared to the large debt facing the district, said Childress. Teachers are now wondering what additional cuts should be expected.
Superintendent Sam Johnson had no comment.
The district has also faced a number of lawsuits about work done for the reconstruction projects - more than 30 between September 2001 to November 2006. It's not a large number of lawsuits considering the amount of work and that the district is a public entity, said the district's lawyer Mark Haesloop.
Under law, school districts must accept the lowest bid for construction work. Private companies, on the other hand, have the opportunity to negotiate the work load with various contractors. Often time this means a construction company won't point out obvious flaws with the work requests to stay competitive, said Haesloop. This can cause many problems, he said.
The board meets 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8 at the San Mateo Adult Resource and Technology Center, 789 E. Poplar, San Mateo.
Copyright ©2007 San Mateo County Times. Published 02/08/2007.