State Backs Off: Pulls DJUSD Off Wednesday’s Agenda [Updated]

Board President Sheila Allen informed the Vanguard on Friday evening that an item that would have requested DJUSD to return $4.5 million that had been allocated to the district upon appeal has been pulled off the State Allocation Board’s Agenda for next Wednesday.

Last Wednesday, the Davis Enterprise reported that the Davis school district could be asked to return the $4.5 million it received just last year from the state in matching funds for the construction of Montgomery Elementary.

“That’s apparently the gist of a new legal opinion from the state Attorney General’s Office, directed to members of the State Allocation Board. The school district’s appeal will be heard at a SAB meeting next Wednesday in Sacramento.

If the Davis district is asked to return the money, it will effectively reverse the SAB’s decision in August 2007 to award the $4.5 million to the Davis district, following a lengthy appeal of an earlier decision by the Office of Public School Construction to deny the funds.”

Board President Sheila Allen told the Vanguard in a written statement via email:

“More than a year ago, the DJUSD Board, with support from respected local leaders, were successful in regaining $4.5 million in school construction funds from the State Allocation Board, based in large part on the strong administrative and financial competencies of our new District staff.

The DJUSD board is very thankful to Assembly Member Lois Wolk and her staff and to Assembly and State Allocation Board member Kevin De Leon for requesting the removal of this item. Since we were legally awarded the funds and have had it in our possession since December 2007, the board has been confident that Davis will rightfully retain the funds. “

It was a move that never made any sense. First, the decision happened over a year ago.

Second, the district was already given the money and presumably spent it to pay off the bonds it took out when the district found itself short of money on the King High project in part because they had backfilled the spending for Montgomery with money that was allocated for King High construction.

The point is, the district had every reason to believe that that was their money and they had no reason not to spend it to pay off those bonds.

It would be one thing if the district had not received the $4.5 million, however, a year after the fact to make the school district pay the money back to the state seems irresponsible. That would have created a huge burden on the district to come up with $4.5 million in the facilities fund. It just would not have been very reasonable–not that that would have stopped the state.

The burden it would place on the students would have been tremendous. So while we do not know what happened to change their minds, perhaps cooler and wiser heads prevailed in this. Perhaps our state legislators imparted to the state that this would be a long and prolonged battle and they would use every resource they had at their disposal to fight this. I would like to think they just realize it was the wrong thing to do.

Regardless, it appears that the district will be able to keep the money and hopefully we will get more details in the next few days on why and how this happened in the first place.

Now the voters need to pass Measure W so that we do not have to see a repeat of last spring when the district issued dozens of pink slips only to narrowly avert disaster thanks to a more generous May revise to the state budget and the yeoman work of the Davis Schools Foundation.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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