Pinole Valley High – update

There is good news to report on the fate of Pinole Valley High School.
CCT article here.
At the April 13 WCCUSD Board meeting, the Board, by a vote of 3-1-1 approved the new budget, thereby setting the stage for the completion of Pinole Valley High School.
If all goes well the school will be ready for the graduating class of 2019.

I thought long and hard about this important decision.
I had discussions with members of the public and elected officials, the Pinole City Council and members of the School Board,  about this critical vote.

As a member of the CBOC I have had a front row seat on all things Bond related.
Our task is to oversee the Bond Program expenditures.

I took everything I knew and felt into consideration.
After crunching the numbers, I reached the conclusion that there was no guarantee that any of the other options offered would decrease the cost of the school, and in fact, the other options would delay this project further and possibly result in little if any cost savings.
In the end, I supported Option A, to increase the budget for the school by approximately 33M, thereby setting the budget for PVHS at approximately $233M.

It is as, I’ve said, a staggering amount of money.
Is this an ideal conclusion? For many, it is not.
I won’t get into the politics of this, I have heard enough political rhetoric and seen too much political theatre and histrionics already.
There was certainly no lack of that at the meeting.
A wise man told me that often politics gets in the way of thoughtful discussion and conversation, yes, indeed.

I also think it is fair and appropriate for WCCUSD staff to bring options to the Board.
Unfortunately that type of long-term and bottom-line thinking and initiative has been lacking and perhaps discouraged for many years.
Former staff members have spoken to me, in confidence, about their frustration and inability to implement cost controls, or adhere to budgets because of political pressures.
A current staff member, Dennis Clay, has put his job on the line to speak out about the Bond Program.

So, I applaud staff for offering options and playing an important role in these decisions.
They are, after all, our experts, the people we hired, they are not contract workers.
It’s an important distinction.

I am pleased that the Board understands that after 16 years, this program must be better managed.
It is time to put a long-term strategy in place.
It is also time that this District learn from the mistakes that have been made.

The District must be held accountable for the Bond Program, its successes and its failures.
Taxpayers must be able to rely on bond measure language that is precise and can be the tracked back to expenditures.
Taxpayers I have spoken to are not willing to “trust” or believe in this District.
It will take major philosophical changes to improve the communities’ relationship with the district.
Leaders must lead.

The Clay Investigation report is tentatively due in August or September.
This comprehensive forensic investigation should tell us how this program has been functioning and what, if any changes, need to be made.

What we need now is a clear strategy to address the very real needs of the remaining schools.
The New Master Plan optimistically identifies $200M to try to meet the needs of some of the 21 schools.
It is in my opinion, akin to putting your finger in your ear to stop a nosebleed.

The Facilities Subcommittee meets today. The Options it will choose to recommend to the full Board will be discussed.
That recommendation will go before the Full Board on April 27.
Once the Board has chosen an option that option will be converted to a plan which will be ratified by the Facilities Subcommittee on May 17 and the full board on May 25.

PVHS will be built, students and parents can look forward to a beautiful new, modern school.
But this School District must hit the reset button and find a way to embrace the needs of all of its students.






3 thoughts on “Pinole Valley High – update

  1. Unfortunately, due to the Pinole Valley High School vote there only remains $168 Million to rebuild the remaining 21 schools that have been promised as well. The estimated price tag to do this is over 1 Billion dollars. Since putting ones finger in ones ear to stop a nose bleed, I think this would qualify as putting your finger in your friends ear and expecting that your nose bleed will go away,

    Unfortunately, the board did not even consider option C, nor discuss it because I felt this option had some merits to it. Option C would still allow students in the class of 2019 to graduate in a building. Option C called for the building of the gym and auditorium immediately, and downsize the rest of the build from 1700 students to a campus for 1200 students. Clearly, the board had made up their minds even before the public input.

    As for my son who is in the class of 2018 at PVHS, he will never see a new building and I am extremely happy about this. I am happy because the drug dealing is down, the selling of everything from sneakers to high end jeans has gone down, the gun shots have gone away, and no one has been jacked up by five or six students. In other words, without lockers, narrow hallways, and a packed lunchroom all of the above extra-curricular activity is extremely down. Don’t take my word for it talk to Kibby Kleinman about it.

    The down side of PVHS, El Cerrito, and DeAnza builds is that all three of these schools are failing in College Readiness, all with scores in the low 20’s. Check it out for yourself:

    It is too bad that the board did not hear Valerie Cuevas when she said that, “we have to stop this madness”. I have to agree with her and I am deeply saddened that we continue to build these Taj Mahal’s and little or no attention is placed on academics in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. It appears to be all about the Benjamin’s.

    Win for the politicians and a loss for the students in the district, especially those that have to go to schools without windows. Insanity! Not to mention those schools that are not ADA compliant. Criminal! And the taxpayers will continue to be one of the highest taxed districts in the State (See the grand jury report on the bond program). Too bad the test scores do not track with the taxes…..

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