Financial consultants Jeff Pickett (left) and Chick Adams discuss how SVUSD has attained an A1 credit rating during the Oct. 24, 2023, school board meeting. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

There’s been a lot going on at Scotts Valley Unified School District this year, what with Scotts Valley Middle School’s growing band, the Scotts Valley High School production of “Rumors,” and the ongoing planning for the May 4 Multicultural Fair.

During the December board meeting, Superintendent Tanya Krause noted the school district has also been knee-deep in the Facility Master Plan. That work started before Covid-19 arrived, but is finally beginning this month.

“Very sloppy field…we need a new track; we need a new field. There’s bad drainage. We’ve known it for years,” said Board President Michael Schulman, after complaining about a couple of high school football calls he thought were questionable. “I’m excited to think that we’ve got some youthful energy that can help us with the bond campaign.”

Schulman noted teachers played a big part in the recent successful parcel tax drive. He said when it comes to their new effort to raise funds for better physical infrastructure, he hopes the students will help spread this message in the community: “We need these facilities.”

Krause said she had just met with SchoolWorks, who has been working on the Facility Master Plan, along with SVUSD Chief Business Official Mary Navas.

SVUSD Chief Business Official Mary Navas, speaking during the Oct. 24, 2023, school board meeting, has been working on the Facility Master Plan with SchoolWorks. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

“They’ve already done the foundation of the Facility Master Plan, and the District has actually completed some of those projects already,” she said. “We decided what’s the dollar amount that we want to go out for for a facility bond. … That process includes going out to each of our school sites and getting input from the school community about the priorities for each of those schools.”

The District is hoping to start bond shopping in November 2024.

“Our goal was to get our parcel tax renewed, because that was essential for our General Fund budget before we could go back out for a facility bond,” she said. “So, we were very relieved that the parcel tax passed.”

During the Oct. 24 meeting, just after approving the California Online Public Schools Monterey Bay charter school agreement, the board discussed how investing in its facilities is expected to actually save the District money—at least in some cases.

Financial consultants Chick Adams of Jones Hall, who advises on bonds, and Jeff Pickett, of Isom Advisers, answered board member questions and noted SVUSD has attained an A1 credit rating.

“It’s a testament to the management of the district,” Pickett said, “—being conservative.”

Under California law, school districts are allowed to take on debt via Certificates of Participation without voter approval (if they enter into a lease financing agreement). The District would make lease payments on a semi-annual basis out of its General Fund—paid to the COP trustee and forwarded to investors.

The board unanimously authorized up to $6 million in COP financing for “capital projects for its educational purposes.”

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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