Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

SEPTEMBER 5, 2006 RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL - EASTVIEW SCHOOL DISTRICT BOUNDARY SEPTEMBER 5, 2006 RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL - EASTVIEW SCHOOL DISTRICT BOUNDARY SEPTEMBER 5, 2006 RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL - EASTVIEW SCHOOL DISTRICT BOUNDARY



TO: HONORABLE MAYOR & CITY COUNCIL

FROM: CITY MANAGER

DATE: SEPTEMBER 5, 2006

SUBJECT: EASTVIEW SCHOOL DISTRICT BOUNDARY

RECOMMENDATION
Receive and file.

BACKGROUND
At their meeting on January 17, 2006, the City Council directed the City Attorney to prepare draft legislation that would place the residential portions of the Rancho Palos Verdes Eastview area in the Palos Verdes Unified School District boundaries, without transferring the two LAUSD schools to PVPUSD, and to submit the draft language to Assemblymember Betty Karnette by January 27, 2006.

On January 24, 2006, the City Attorney completed the preparation of a draft legislative bill in accordance with the directions from the City Council. The bill was submitted to Assemblymember Karnette’s office with the understanding that Assemblymember Karnette had not agreed to carry the legislation (or not carry it), but as a courtesy to us would submit it to the Legislative Counsel’s office prior to the deadline for 2006 legislative bills.

On February 4, 2006 the City Council established goals for 2006. Those goals included support of a plan to bring the Eastview neighborhood into the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District. The milestones adopted by the Council included:
1. By February 4, 2006, appoint a City Council Ad Hoc Committee to meet with similar committees of the PVPUSD and the LAUSD.
2. By February 15, 2006, prepare letters to the PVPUSD and the LAUSD requesting to meet with them to identify and resolve issues related to the boundary change.
3. Advocate and pursue state legislation during the 2006 legislative session that would revise District boundaries.

Also at the meeting of February 4, 2006, Mayor Wolowicz and Councilman Gardiner were appointed to the Ad Hoc Committee to meet with representatives of the PVPUSD and the LAUSD.

On February 8, 2006, Mayor Wolowicz addressed a letter to PVPUSD Board President Dora de la Rosa requesting a meeting to open discussion of a boundary change. There is no record of a written response to this letter.

On February 24, 2006 the Daily Breeze quoted Assemblymember Karnette’s office as saying that, at least for this session, the issue would be “dead on arrival” unless all local parties agreed on a boundary adjustment.

At their meeting of March 7, 2006 the City Council directed staff to work with appropriate staff from the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District and the Los Angeles Unified School District to identify issues, and potential resolution of those issues, in regard to revising school district boundaries to include the Eastview neighborhood in the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District.

In mid-March, Mayor Wolowicz and Councilman Gardiner met with LAUSD Board member Mike Lansing to discuss the issues associated with a boundary adjustment and requested that School District staff meet with City staff to explore and attempt to resolve these issues. Board member Lansing suggested that the City Manager work with his Deputy, Broc Coward to gain access to the School District staff.

On March 24, 2006 the City Manager contacted Mr. Coward to discuss the logistics and agenda for a meeting with School district staff. Mr. Coward advised the Manager that he would work on getting the right people to the table. On April 10, 2006 Mr. Coward advised staff that he was still trying to put something together.

On April 18, 2006 Mr. Coward contacted City staff and advised them that the School District would prefer that the City make a written proposal on the proposed transfer of territory from LAUSD to PVPUSD and the District would respond to it. He indicated that the letter should be addressed to Superintendent Romer with a copy to him (Broc Coward).

The requested letter was drafted by the City Manager and reviewed and revised by Mayor Wolowicz and Councilman Gardiner. The letter was sent to Superintendent Romer on April 29, 2006.

In May, City staff contacted Board Member Lansing’s office to follow up with Mr. Coward. We were advised that Mr. Coward was on leave to work on an election campaign and would not return until after the elections.

During the week of June 14, 2006 Staff attempted to contact Mr. Coward and were advised that he had left his position on Board member Lansing’s staff. At that time staff attempted to contact Board member Lansing, but calls were not returned.

On June 27, 2006 city staff was able to reach John Walsh, who is an attorney on the LAUSD Board Staff. Superintendent Toibin suggested that he was knowledgeable about the boundary issues and also was likely to return a phone call. Mr. Walsh indicated that he was aware of our letter, but had not seen it. He suggested City staff try to work through Wendy Bareno who had taken the position on Board members Lansing’s staff previously held by Broc Coward.

On June 27, 2006 staff contacted Ms. Bareno’s who with the information provided by Mr. Walsh. On June 28, 2006Ms. Bareno called back to advise us that Mr. Walsh was now working on a response to the Mayor’s letter and we should contact him in a few weeks for the status. On July 24, 2006 Mr. Walsh indicated that a letter had been drafted and the Mayor should receive it within a few days. The City received the letter, signed by Superintendent Romer, on August 2, 2006. A copy of the letter is attached.

DISCUSSION
At the suggestion of the Mayor, a copy of the August 2, 2006 letter from the LAUSD was provided to Superintendent Walker Williams of the PVPUSD on August 21, 2006 along with an invitation for the PVPUSD School Board President and the School Superintendent to meet with the Mayor and the City Manager to discuss whether or not the PVPUSD would be willing to pursue a further study of the issues surrounding the proposed revision of district boundaries. Mr. Williams indicated that he would pass the invitation on to School board President de la Rosa.

Respectfully Submitted,

Les Evans
City Manager

Cc: City Attorney

Attachment: Mayor’s Letter to Superintendent Romer of April 29, 2006
Superintendent Romer’s Response to Mayor’s Letter

April 29, 2006

Ray Romer
Superintendent of Schools
Los Angeles Unified School District
333 South Broadway Avenue, 24th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Re: Transfer of RPV Eastview Territory from LAUSD to PVPUSD

Dear Superintendent Romer:

We are writing this letter at the suggestion of School Board Member Mike Lansing, who recently met with Councilman Peter Gardiner and myself to discuss the issues surrounding the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council proposal to adjust school district boundaries so as to include all of our city residents in the Palos Verdes Peninsula School District. Board Member Lansing asked that we describe in writing, as fully as possible, our proposal to institute this boundary adjustment.

First, we agree that any transfer of territory should preferably be accomplished under the process described in the California Education Code (Section 35500 et seq), rather than through legislation. However, in order to explore this path, identify and resolve concerns, and initiate the process we believe that representatives of the three agencies most involved (LAUSD, PVPUSD and the City of RPV) need to come to the table and address the key concerns of all three parties in a fair manner. We believe there is sufficient flexibility allowed in the Ed Code process to draft an agreement designed to resolve all mutual concerns--as we understand them—and to permit the transfer.

Secondly, we believe that the territory transfer process must address the fiscal impacts on LAUD and PVPUSD. These impacts include the four outstanding LAUSD bonds that are currently assessed on the property tax bills of Rancho Palos Verdes residents in the Eastview neighborhoods. We also agree that the Eastview homeowners should pay their fair share of the three PVPUSD bonds as well as any PVPUSD parcel tax passed by the voters.. Again, resolution of the fiscal impacts requires the knowledge and input of all three agencies.

Regarding the disposition of Crestwood Street Elementary and Dodson Middle schools, we understand that LAUSD cannot afford to lose classrooms, but may not wish to retain school campuses outside their district. We believe that these two schools could continue to successfully operate under LAUSD control within the City boundaries of RPV—as they do now—if the redrawn school district boundaries specifically exclude those school properties. If this approach is thought to be a problem, however, we would certainly be willing to explore and evaluate options to having the schools remain with the LAUSD school district boundaries and exempted from the PVPUSD redrawn boundaries, while at the same time being within the city of RPV city boundaries. In view of the value of these properties there should be other solutions in addition to the retention of the properties by LAUSD such as the sale of the properties to the City or the PVPUSD or private parties that could be negotiated in a way that would be fair to LAUSD.

Regarding the “child’s best interests,” that you mentioned in your joint letter (with PVPUSD Superintendent Ira Toibin) of March 13, 2006, we agree that the families living in the Eastview area should be able to decide whether or not they would want to be transferred from the LAUSD to the PVPUSD through whatever process you wish to support to determine their wishes. One practical way to accomplish this, for example, would be to change the direction of the current option rather than eliminate it. At the moment, the default is LAUSD with an option to enroll in PVPUSD. We could simply reverse the situation and have the default be PVPUSD with an option to enroll in LAUSD.

Mr. Romer, we feel we are representing the wishes of the families in the Eastview neighborhood, and others throughout our city who have the put the welfare of their children “first and foremost” and we would welcome the opportunity to better understand first hand the “complex’ issues mentioned in your joint letter of March 13, 2006 by meeting with you or your staff. We would very much like to see if there is a way to “make our city whole” in all respects.

Sincerely,

 

Stefan Wolowicz
Mayor

Cc: City Council
Mike Lansing (Attn: Brock Coward)