Tag Archives: Chico Unified School District

CUSD School Board race 2020 – who will run, and what’s their position on the district’s new decision to keep schools partially closed?

23 Jul

In this upcoming election I’d like to get the voters to pay more attention to the school board race. This race is so under-voted in most elections, the two members up in this election, Elizabeth Griffin and Linda Hovey,  were both appointed due to lack of challengers. Neither of them has announced publicly that they will run for re-election. 

There is one challenger, a well-connected Sacramento politico turned rice farmer, Matt Tennis. Tennis, a Chico native who attended local schools,  is also a member of the Butte County Water Board, and has advocated the Paradise/Chico water transfer. That’s about all I got from a preliminary web search. 

According to his website and Faceblob pages, Tennis is running for school board with a campaign to re-open Chico schools. He is pushing for the district to apply for a waiver of the governor’s closure.

From the state website:

Governor Gavin Newsom Lays Out Pandemic Plan for Learning and Safe Schools  

“There is a single exception. Local health officers may grant a waiver to allow elementary schools to reopen in-person instruction if the waiver is requested by the district superintendent, in consultation with labor, parents and community-based organizations. When considering a waiver request, the local health officer must consider local data and consult with the California Department of Public Health.

The Department also issued updated guidance for when schools must physically close and revert to distance learning because of COVID-19 infections. Following a confirmed case of a student who was at school during his or her infectious period, other exposed students and staff should be quarantined for 14 days. The school should revert to distance learning when multiple cohorts have cases or 5 percent of students and staff test positive within a 14-day period. The district should revert to distance learning when 25 percent or more of its schools have been physically closed due to COVID-19 within 14 days. Closure decisions should be made in consultation with local health officers. After 14 days, school districts may return to in-person instruction with the approval of the local public health officer.”

The board voted July 15 to re-open according to the Governor’s rules – groups split between morning and afternoon, and on a rotating schedule – Monday, Wednesday, Friday one week and Tuesday, Thursday the next. Face shields will be required and temperatures will be taken. 


I’m not sure if this is what Tennis wanted, or what the waiver would mean,  but I believe the board’s decision is a disaster for working parents. I’m just glad I don’t have school age kids anymore. I’ve never liked the idea of public school as free babysitting, but the fact is, working parents depend on having a safe place for their kids to learn. Our economy depends on it. What are parents supposed to do with their kids the other 2 – 3 days a week? Are they supposed to leave their jobs (including those who work 50 or more miles out of town) to pick their kid up at lunch time, and then what? 

As the child of working parents, I know this isn’t going to work. The state’s economy is going to tank if they don’t fully open the schools. Not to mention, the kids will get behind. And we can’t afford to get any further behind in education in this state. According to US News, California public schools have an overall ranking of 37 out of 50 states, with a 40 in “quality” and a 38 in “safety”.

Remember what strikes did to baseball and hockey? 

I don’t know how either Hovey or Griffin voted on this issue – one board member voted No, reasons unknown. 

I’d like to hear from some of you working parents what you think of this decision. 

UPDATE: The governor has put Butte County on the Shit List, so the district may have to go back to online learning in the fall. 


Will 2018 finally be the year the public rises up and throws off the tax pigs?

5 Feb

Busy little bees.

How many agencies in Chico are planning to put revenue measures on the general ballot, or mailed assessment ballots? So far we’ve got Chico Chamber of Commerce/Tom Lando stumping for a sales tax increase as high as 3/4 of a cent. Then there’s Chico Area Recreation District – I haven’t found out yet whether they will put their measure on the general ballot or mail ballots to property owners. And of course, as I predicted with the passage of Measure K in 2016, Chico Unified School District has again been discussing a revenue measure.

And then there’s the shadowy “Everybody Healthy Body” group that is trying to raise money to purchase a giant property just south of the Chico City Limits, for a sports complex. So far they’ve only raised $2 million through private donors, but they keep saying they aren’t going to ask for public money. 

If you believe that I got a burn dump I’d like to sell you.

Remember, these junkies can never get enough. Within months of the passage of bond Measure K in November 2016, CUSD finance manager Kevin Bultema told me “The increase PERS and STRS costs are certainly a challenge for the district’s operations budget and will need to be addressed with either increased revenues from the state or cuts in CUSD’s program expenditures in the future.”

And how has the school board responded to the pension crisis? From the Enterprise Record, June 2017;

“The board also voted to ratify a tentative agreement with the Chico Unified Teachers Association. That agreement will collapse the salary schedule, reducing the years of service necessary for a teacher to reach their maximum salary. The new salary schedule is more competitive compared to other districts and will allow Chico Unified to attract more teachers, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jim Hanlon said.”

Oh good, the teachers get more money, which raises the cost of their pension. Get ready for the hand to come out.

Both the city and CARD have also continued to hand out raises to staff. When will these pigs ever have enough?

So, we’re gassing up the old buggy and getting ready to oppose this stuff.  Helllllllooooooo?


Yes Virginia – a bond is a tax – a turd by any other name, will still stink

7 Nov


I have to laugh when I realize, some people do not consider a bond a tax.  They don’t see how much it adds to their cost of living.

Measure K asks $60 for every $100,000 of property valuation – with today’s home prices and the assessor jacking up evaluations for permitted work, the average house in Chico is valuated at over $300,000.  We put new siding and a new roof on our old crapper and the assessor added about $100,000 to our evaluation. 

So, that’s an average of $240 a year for the homeowner. 

The district will tell you that’s chump change, but at my house, it’s a lot of groceries. For other people, it’s trips to  restaurants and movie theaters, shopping trips to the mall. If there’s 40,000 households in the city of Chico, that would add up to a little over $9 million in discretionary spending that is about to be sponged up by the school district.



Chico Taxpayers Association meets tomorrow, Sunday May 5, Chico Library on Sherman Ave, 9am

4 May

I hope we can get a good discussion going on the local efforts to raise taxes, all inspired by CalPERS recent demands for “side fund payoffs” of pension premiums.

What CalPERS is after, is money to keep their pension payments flowing, so people like Tom Lando don’t sue them. And then there’s the CalPERS salaries – about a dozen top execs, making between $350 – 500,000 a year, plus, yeah, FULL BENEFITS!

How stupid are we? Let’s talk about that – tomorrow, Chico branch library, 9am.  The public is welcome.

Capital Appreciation Bonds – how could ANYBODY not see this is a SCAM? How much money does Greg Isom make off the sale of these bonds?

17 Apr

The school district is contemplating selling “Capital Appreciation Bonds.” These bonds are a disaster – they just did a story on the news the other night, explaining how one local school district borrowed $6 million but will pay back about $80 million.  The district superintendent in that case defended himself saying they’d never be able to get the money to do anything if they didn’t borrow it at these outrageous rates and then just leave it for the grandchildren of their students to pay later, with interest on the interest.

That guy should be driven out of town in tar and feathers, and so should Kelly Staley, who is proposing the same deal for Chico Unified. In this case, they claim the  “emergency” project is the replacement of a gym floor, but we all know, they’re under pressure from California State Teachers Retirement System to make whopping pension payments for their crazy pensions.   

And don’t forget, Staley just led the campaign to extend the taking from ill-fated scam Measure A. She said she wanted $78 million out of that. Geez, where will it end? 

They give us all this crap about “projects” – excuse me, Kelly Staley (and I got this from her long-lost foster brother Norm) is a (bleeping) LIAR! They want this money to make their CalSTRS payments.

I got one of those 99 cent subscriptions to the ER so I could copy the salary charts. I’ve been looking over the CUSD  payroll.  Do you realize, there’s something like 2400 employees in the Chico Unified School District? And they’re management heavy – three “assistant” principals at each high school? Starting at about $70,000/year and ending up at about $100,000/year. And then the principals make around $110,000 or more. I saw a couple of principals at $120,000/year. One charter school has not only a principal at $120,000, but a “CEO” making same. 

Teachers get plenty – those salaries run from around $60,000 to over $100,000 too. We’ve got elementary school teachers making in excess of $80,000, and then paying LITTLE OR NOTHING toward their own benefits, as seems standard in the public sector. They get 70 percent of those salaries in retirement, plus an additional salary if they substitute teach, like our mayor, Mary Goloff.  And we still pay for their health insurance. (And don’t forget, we pay for a $21,000 a year policy for Mary as mayor too!)

And then there’s the weird little bits of money they give people without any explanation – $6,000 to a woman I knew several years back, and I’m wondering – for WHAT?  How do I get in on that? 

This district is AWASH IN MONEY. They spend so much money they could qualify as a small country. With no accounting, none. They tear up some stuff at one or another school, they “fix it” – where’s the bills? When do we get to see some accounting for this money?  How much goes out the door on salaries and benefits and pensions? 

And now these Capital Appreciation Bonds. Here’s how they work, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/capital-appreciation-bond-work-39357.html

Capital appreciation bonds offer an opportunity for a non-profit or small business to gain working capital to assist in starting or expanding the business. To the small business owner, the bonds work effectively like a loan that must be repaid with accrued interest. Unlike a traditional loan, the principle and interest are paid in one lump sum on the bond’s maturity date instead of making a series of regular payments. This lack of periodic coupon payments classifies a capital appreciation bond as a zero-coupon bond.

But then, oh no! You have to pay it back! Annual compound interest is accrued on a capital appreciation bond up until the maturity date. The principle plus this accrued interest exactly equals the par value of the bond. Therefore, the annual interest rate paid fluctuates with the investor’s original purchase price. Small businesses can calculate the interest rate they are paying by reversing the compound interest formula. Dividing the par value by the purchase price gives you the overall multiplier. Taking the nth root of this overall multiplier — where n is the number of years until maturity — gives you the annual multiplier. Subtracting 1 from this annual multiplier gives you the interest rate in decimal format. As an example, for a $5,000, 10-year bond purchased at $3,000, divide 5,000 by 3,000 to get 1.667. Take the 10th root of 1.667 to get 1.0524. Subtract 1 to get the annual interest rate of 0.0524, or 5.24 percent.

Greg Isom, as you saw in an earlier post, is the guy who sells the school district these bonds. How much commission does he make, I have to wonder. 

I tried to e-mail this question to Staley and the school board but the e-mail links on the district website do not work. I’ve never been able to find direct contact information for these people. They don’t want to hear from the public. When I  tried to call, I got a machine with a message from the superintendent’s secretary. I guess you have to go to one of their insane meetings. They do everything they can to keep the public out. 

I can’t make the meeting tonight, so I will have to send my questions via snail mail – that’s  1163 E. 7th Street, Chico, CA 95928. I’ll keep you posted. 


What is a “PAC”?

13 Apr

People have actually asked me, if I’m so crazy about local politics, why don’t I run for office? One read through the Fair Political Practices manual ought to give you your answer – there’s a million damn rules, and nailing candidates for rules is the how the FPPC pays their pensions and benefits. Failure to name a donor who was connected to a discussion Larry Wahl had as a city planning commissioner cost him about $12,000. They’re just waiting for you to put your foot in their trap, then they gotcha!

There’s all kinds of “political action committees”, and the rules and definitions  are confusing. First you better read everything about 20 times, and then you might want to talk it over with a lawyer. For example:

“A general purpose committee is a type of recipient committee – an individual or group that receives contributions totaling $1,000 or more during the calendar year for the purpose of supporting or opposing one or more state or local candidate or ballot measure(s).”   Including “two or more individuals or entities that make separate expenditures for a single product or service (for example a newspaper advertisement)”  

Right away, I notice, you have to decide, what are you forming your committee for? Will you oppose or support a candidate or an issue? There’s all kinds of different rules. You have to decide how much money you think you’ll spend –  the good news is, until you spend $1,000 on one campaign issue, you’re under the wire. The Chico Taxpayers Association is NOT a PAC or any kind of committee. We only spent about $330 on Measure J, so we were not required to file anything anywhere.  

But geez we were lucky – the idiots who wrote and supported Measure J, led by Ann Schwab, Scott Gruendl and Mary Goloff, were too cocky to think anybody would oppose them, so they never mounted ANY campaign.  We won’t get that lucky again. If we mount a Recall against any member or members of the school board, for example, they’re going to fight us. CARD is going to have a war chest too, but I’m not sure what money they will be allowed to use. And, if Lando comes forward with that sales tax increase proposal, he’ll have money and plans. I want to fight, and that’s going to take money. I’m going to spend the next few weeks studying up the situation, I’ll keep you all posted.

Here are some articles from the FPPC site:   http://www.fppc.ca.gov/serp.html?q=+rules+for+political+action+committees&cx=001779225245372747843%3A_7mfpc-fxyk&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=UTF-8&submit.x=12&submit.y=8

Sure, it gets tricky: “If more than 70% of a committee’s contributions and expenditures on candidates or measures are on a single candidate, single measure, a group of specific candidattes in the same local election or two or more measure being voted upon in the same state or local election, the committee is designated as a primarily formed committee rather than a general purpose committee.” Furthermore, “For purposes of determining whether the committee is general purpose or a primarily formed committee, the treasurer must count contributions and expenditures made to support or oppose candidates or measures during: The current two year period, beginning January 1 of the current or previous oddnumbered year and ending with December 31 of the following even-number year; or The immediate preceding 24 months. The committee must use the time period that most accurately reflects its current and upcoming activities.” 

Well, like my dad used to say, sounds like sticking your dick in a noose, but if that’s what we have to do to get our town back, I’m willing to take a shot at it.



Should we form a PAC to recall the school board? Can we recall the Stuporintendent?

12 Apr

I’d like to thank all you people who voted to extend Measure A, the school bond that was originally shoveled down the voter’s throats with promises of a third high school. I’m so glad you all voted “YES!, Screw Me Blind! And my neighbors too!” on Measure E.

You bastards – of course I’m being sarcastic!

You’re probably the same dummasses that voted YES! on Proposition 30 – did you knuckle under to threats that  Dummass Junior would not get into Chico State because of “cut-backs,” or did you really believe they needed the money?

Again, you bastard! I would like to send my right Etnie straight into your glut-max!

Please forgive me for this rampage, I just paid my property taxes over the last couple of weeks, and I could eat the heads off a sack full of liberal tax-and-spend kittens.

Let me ramp it down a little, I have a good cup of coffee next to me here, I’ll try to think positive. It may be one of the last cups of coffee I’ll be able to afford.

When Kelly Staley and the Chico Unified School Board proposed this tax, they made all the usual bullshit promises about “citizen oversight,” saying there would be a citizen’s  and a list of projects that would be vetted before the public before any expenditures were made of this money. Now, what, five months later? The board has already approved a project to be paid for out of this money, without so much a list scrawled on a cocktail napkin discussed before the public.

They want to issue more bonds to get the money for a new gym floor – something called “capital appreciation bonds.” According to the Enterprise Record, school district “bonds advisor” Greg Isom is advising Kelly Staley to consider these bonds, and she’s listening to him. The ER explains, “With capital appreciation bonds, payments are delayed but the interest piles up. A $4.6 million bond for Yuba College will cost $58 million to repay. In Poway, north of San Diego, $105 million in bonds will cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion.”

That sounds insane, you might be surprised if you haven’t been paying attention to the school district over the years. They sold the voters on Measure A, promising to build a third high school to relieve the overcrowding evident to anyone caught within proximity of either of our high schools during class break, lunch, or before/after school rush. Kids come to those two campuses from miles around. Both have a junior high within a mile. It seems like a no-brainer to place another high school near the third junior high, in an area of town that’s been developing like crazy over the last ten years, even approved for a “city within a city” (Meriam Park). But the school district reneged on that high school, deciding pretty willy-nilly to spend the bond proceeds on whatever projects they felt like. Really dumb superficial stuff – facades! –  alot of of work that could have been done by the students themselves, even the construction students from Chico State. Instead the district has been spending the bond money on these projects, without any accounting to the public. We have no reports, no financial records – we don’t have the slightest idea how much money they’ve taken in off Measure A over the years or exactly where they’ve spent it. 

So now they’ve extended it, with the help of a pack of idiot lemming voters. Meanwhile, the third high school decision continues to haunt us. Now we find, the district is paying hundreds of thousands on mitigation for the land they bought but didn’t build the third high school on. They even mention they may still build a high school, “If the day comes that a high school needs to be built on the site…”  (“If?”)   But here they go right ahead and spend the money we were told would go to building that school on other stuff? 

And then what? “If the day comes…” they float another bond and tell us we have to pay more, that’s what. 

Here’s what I propose. I propose I start a “Friends of the Chico Taxpayers” Political Action Committee. All that requires is filling out forms Downtown, or at the county, whichever. We can collect money to run a recall on the Chico Unified School Board, and we can see what we can do about getting rid of Staley too. I’ll check into that, might pan out. 


Chico school board asked to spend $436,000 on empty high school land

Posted:   04/09/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Click photo to enlarge

Wildflowers grow in a field at the corner of Raley Boulevard and Bruce Road that was to host the…

CHICO — Chico’s school board will be asked Wednesday to spend just under $436,000 to mitigate environmental concerns on a 50-acre lot that may not house students for decades to come.At issue is the parcel purchased by the Chico Unified School District in 2005 at the northwest corner of Raley Boulevard and Bruce Road in southeast Chico. The land was to host the future Canyon View High School, but with shrinking enrollment, the proposed project did not go forward.

Even so, CUSD Director of Facilities and Construction Mike Weissenborn will ask the board of trustees to pay for most of the environmental mitigation required under the various permits the district has on the property.

If approved, the money will go to so-called “mitigation banks” to cover the cost to create a vernal pool elsewhere and to maintain a population of the endangered fairy shrimp on the high school property at a different location.

Beyond the vernal pool mitigation, the district also must purchase credits to cover loss of intermittent streams on the property.

District building manager Julie Kistle said, “You can’t do anything without the mitigations.”

The district also needs to seek what would be the second extension of a permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers related to the use of the property. It expires April 17.

Kistle said while the permit and the mitigation are not directly tied, buying the mitigation credits would “really be a positive step,” to show the Corps the CUSD is

moving forward.Weissenborn said, “We have got quite an investment in that property and we don’t want to see it get re-regulated.”

He explained CUSD is working with “a set of knowns in a world that tends to create unknowns” — federal and state environmental regulation — and the CUSD would be better off complying with the existing rules than having to go through a new process and face new challenges.

Weissenborn said while the construction of a new high school on the property could be decades away, that doesn’t mean the land will continue to sit empty and unused.

He said it is incumbent on the district staff to investigate “appropriate interim uses” for the property.

On April 17, Weissenborn will bring a proposal to the trustees about the possibility of putting a solar power array on the Canyon View land. The electricity created could be used to reduce district power bills.

If the day comes that a high school needs to be built on the site, the solar arrays could be put on supports and provide both power and shaded vehicle parking such as now exists at Pleasant Valley High School and Chico High School.

He also said having the property in hand is good for the district’s future planning.

“They are not making more ground where we need it,” he explained.

Even if trustees approve the purchase of the mitigation credits, which will be funded through developer fees, no projects are going to happen immediately.

Kistle said the district is mandated to provide mitigations for the endangered meadowfoam plant, and as of right now there are no mitigation banks in place for meadowfoam.


CUSD board of trustees

6 p.m. Wednesday

large conference room at the CUSD offices, 1163 E. Seventh St.


2 environmental fixes on 50-acre Chico school site OK’d

Posted:   04/11/2013 12:35:03 AM PDT

CHICO — In a split vote and after hearing a last-minute plea from another firm, the Chico Unified School District trustees voted to purchase environmental mitigation credits for a 50-acre parcel of land that was originally purchased to house a third high school.With board President Liz Griffin casting the lone nay, the CUSD trustees voted to purchase more than $175,000 worth of environmental mitigation credits for the district-owned property at the intersection of Bruce Road and Raley Boulevard.

Before the vote, Mike Weissenborn, CUSD director of facilities and construction, explained that in 1998, voters approved Measure A, a $48.7 million school bond, that was supposed to, among other things, build a third comprehensive high school.

He said that after extensive investigation, four sites, all along Bruce Road, were identified as the potential home of what was to be called Canyon View High School.

Weissenborn said all of the sites had environmental problems that would have to be dealt with before construction could begin. The Bruce and Raley site was chosen and in 2003, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a conditional permit to the district that would allow construction when four problems were “mitigated.”

Under the conditions the district was required to obtain mitigations “credits” covering the creation of a 1.02-acre vernal pool, the preservation of an additional 2.24 acres of vernal pools that would include the preservation of fairy shrimp, and credits to cover the preservation of .33 acres of intermittent stream bank, and finally the preservation of one acre of land to protect less that 50 specimens of Butte County meadow foam, an endangered plant.

All of these mitigations take place on land preserves, not on the district parcel, and the district purchases the credits to have a private firm create the various conditions and maintain them forever.

As the student population failed to grow enough to justify the construction of Canyon View, the property has remained unused.

Weissenborn asked the board to contract with the Shauna Down Mitigation Bank, which has property in Butte County and corporate offices in Nevada, to do everything but the meadow foam mitigation.

He said the three projects would cost a total of nearly $436,000. The district had set aside about $500,000 to cover the mitigations when it first got the permit, according to the director.

The meadow foam question was not on the table because as of now, there are no firms that sell mitigation credits for the endangered plant.

Weissenborn said it was important to sign the contracts because the district is seeking a second extension of the Army Corps permit, which expires on April 17.

Things came together at this time, according to the director, because until recently there were no firms certified locally to do the mitigations.

That’s when Travis Hemmen, with Westervelt Ecological Services’ Sacramento Office, rose to claim his company could do the vernal pool creation work for $150,000 as opposed to the nearly $261,000 being asked for by Shauna Down.

Weissenborn said several firms, including Hemmen’s, were certified to do the work on April 1 of this year, and at the time his staff was reviewing possible contractors, these firms were not certified.

The trustees debated the question of reopening the projects to new bids, at the same time the district was trying to take actions to show the corps they were, in fact, moving ahead.

Weissenborn said he was concerned that if the permit extension was denied, the district could face new demands in the future.

Board President Griffin said she wanted to see the whole process opened to new bids. Trustee Andrea Thompson said she felt a fiscal responsibility to save the district money if possible, but at the same time, she said she was fearful of losing the permit.

Hemmen said his company was only really prepared to do the vernal pool creation work.

Weissenborn was asked if the district contracted for the other two mitigation projects, would the corps get the message the CUSD was serious. He said he thought that would work.

Then, on a motion by Thompson, board majority voted to award the two projects to Shauna Down for a total of slightly more than $175,000, and to leave the third part of the proposal for new bids. Only Griffin voted no.

No one from Shauna Down spoke Wednesday night.