MUSD Board authorizes next bond sale

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez Unified School District Board of Education agreed to issue its $30 million second series of Measure R Bonds.

The vote at Monday’s meeting was unanimous, with Jonathan Wright absent. The Board had no questions, and no member from the public addressed the matter.

Voters in the school district approved Measure R Nov. 8, 2016, authorizing the District to issue up to $120 million in aggregate principal of bonds for construction projects.

The previous bond measure, K, primarily focused on Alhambra High School, while Measure R bond sales will underwrite projects primarily at the district’s four elementary schools.

Isom Advisors will be the bond sale municipal advisor; Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliff will be the bond and disclosure counsel; and D.A. Davidson and Company will be the underwriter. The debt will be paid through district property taxes.

The Board also accepted Measure K construction by Simile Construction Service on Alhambra School’s Building D and H, a $1.5 million project after $12,034.03 in change orders were approved Monday.

After getting the Board’s unanimous approval of School Accountability Report Cards, Director of Educational Services Tom Doppe said information provided in those documents will be posted on the District’s website, https://www.martinezusd.net/, in compliance with California law, which requires them to be published by Feb. 1 each year.

The report cards show how schools are progressing toward their goals.

The documents describe each school and its curriculum, its enrollment figures and demographics. Also listed are its teachers, their credentials and salaries. The report cards indicate each school’s repair status, how its students perform on tests, the status of its parent and pupil engagement, its suspension and expulsion numbers, the school’s safety plan and how it approaches professional development.

Doppe also received approval of the District’s calendars for the years 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22.

However, Brenda Navarro, chief executive officer of the Martinez Education Association (MEA) that represents teachers, said her members would be losing one week of summer break under the 2019-20 calendar.

She said some teachers work during summer, and this would reduce their breaktime income. Others will have to cancel vacations, she told the panel. “I worry about the young, single members.”

Doppe told the Board that the calendars were developed through a committee that included parents and were voted on by both of its labor organizations, the MEA and the California School Employees Association (CSEA).

During the public comment portion of the meeting, English teacher Frank Reichert said English and social studies teachers at Alhambra High School are facing difficulties with large classes.

He said he has 37 students in his sophomore honors class, and has an average of 33 students in his advance placement classes as well. Grading their essays take up much of his weekend, and it can take him more than nine hours to go through one class’s examination papers.

Having so many students in one class means he may be unable to speak to each during a single period. He urged the Board to consider reducing class sizes, especially for courses in which tests primarily are essay answers, rather than in a form that can be graded more quickly by scanning.

“We’ve got to do something about class size,” he said.

Student Representative Fatima Lizarde agreed. “I feel every student should be able to relate to teachers,” she said. In addition, to accommodate overcrowded classrooms, some students must sit at side tables instead, she said. “There aren’t enough desks.”

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