Modesto trustees face full agenda

Modesto City Schools trustees are spending the end of the school year like most teachers -- filling out report cards.

But trustees are grading administrators.

At Monday's board meeting, trustees will consider several personnel items and hear an update on the impact of the state's shrinking budget on the district's finances for next school year.

On the agenda:

— In closed session, trustees will consider appointing new principals for Bret Harte Elementary and Davis and Modesto high schools.

— Also in closed session, trustees will discuss the annual performance evaluations for Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources Chris Flesuras and Associate Superintendents Craig Rydquist, Daisy Lee and Pat Portwood, who head the district's curriculum and instruction.

Trustees will further discuss the employment status of Deputy Superintendent of Business Services Debbe Bailey. Bailey was placed on paid administrative leave in April. She said she believes the suspension stems from disagreements over how to manage the district's finances. Board President Steve Grenbeaux said Wednesday that the board hopes to take action on Bailey's contract sometime this week.

— During open session, trustees will get an update on how the failure of Propositions 1A through 1E and the continuing decline in state revenue will change Gov. Schwarzen- egger's revise of the 2009-10 budget that takes effect July 1. To help close a $24 billion gap, Schwarzenegger appears to be looking to cut nearly $5 billion from education for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 budget years.

In Bailey's absence, Director of Business Services Dennis Snelling and Budget Manager Julie Chapin will review the impact on Modesto City Schools.

The most recent budget projects for 2009-10 estimate a loss of 450 students in the 28,000-student district. Officials hope to get $23.1 million in one-time federal stimulus funds.

— In preparation for the completion of Gregori High School's construction in April, district staff members are looking at ways to cover its expenses. They'll ask trustees Monday to let them look for cheaper interest rates to finance a $14.8 million shortfall. The school should cost less than $120 million, with extra needed to furnish it.

In 2007, trustees approved a "lease-leaseback" plan to fund the Salida school's construction, in which builder Acme Construction Co. Inc. leases the property from the district, and the district leases the property back from the contractor. The district would make payments to Acme at 3.25 percent interest, according to a staff report. Officials want to look for a lower interest rate.

Officials recommend using redevelopment taxes and outside borrowing to obtain $10 million to pay the extra chunk, according to the staff report. The other $4.8 million could be borrowed if needed.

Monday's meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the district office boardroom, 426 Locust St.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at or 578-2339.