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Despite a Looming Deadline, Capo Delays Hiring Redistricting Consultant

The superintendent had argued that there's no time to waste. But trustees, voting 4-3, don't want to be rushed.

The process to start redrawing school-attendance boundaries and voting districts for will be delayed by perhaps 45 days, frustrating administrators who fear there may not be enough time to pull off the task by a state-mandated deadline.

Unhappy with the number of consultants bidding to do the work, the school board voted to do a mulligan and search for more firms. This time, it wants the two items——bid on separately.

Trustee John Alpay said the two tasks aren’t as comparable as district staffers may have first believed. Now that the school district is switching to having its  instead of at large, the consultants will have to be especially mindful of the Voting Rights Act, which was designed to prevent discriminatory voting practices, he said.

“If we don’t get this right, we may get stuck with a lawsuit,” Alpay said. “Let’s get it right in the first place.”

Additionally, consultants who focus on political boundaries may have been scared away by the attendance-boundaries task, and vice versa, he said. Separating the projects should prompt more firms to seek out the work.

Ron Lebs, deputy superintendent of business and support services, said the request for bids was downloaded six times from the district website.

In the end, the staff recommended one consulting firm for the attendance-boundaries examination and a team of two firms to handle revision of the trustee areas.

“We cherry-picked from two of the bids,” Alpay said.

“I’m a little uncomfortable with the term ‘cherry-picking,’ ” said Superintendent Joseph Farley.

Lebs added: “From a legal and technical standpoint, we did the bid right.”

“Within the four corners of the law, yes,” Alpay responded.

Farley urged the board to approve the consultants. The district needs to have the new voting boundaries decided by March 1, and there is much work to be done, including a series of community meetings and board workshops, he said.

“I think you should adopt this recommendation. We don’t have time to do otherwise. I think it’s been fully vetted,” Farley said.

But several board members expressed frustration at having to make quick decisions under the pressure of a deadline.

“I’m worried about timelines forcing us to make a decision,” said Lynn Hatton. She pointed to the  "West View Academy.” (Also at Wednesday’s board meeting, the trustees voted to convene a committee to reconsider the new school's name.)

Alpay agreed. “When we rush to do something, we don’t get it right. West View Academy is a perfect example of that.”

The board voted 4-3, with Trustees Anna Bryson, Ellen Addonizio and Sue Palazzo voting against.

In other news, the board:

  • Reviewed the budgets of various Mello-Roos districts. The Ladera Ranch Community Facilities District listed three current projects: The at San Juan Hills High, the  at San Juan Hills High and a $100,000 project to install security cameras at the school. Randy Rowles, executive director of facilities and plant operations, told Patch that the other high schools have security cameras. The 15-20 cameras should be installed before winter break, he said. 
  • Received a $7,000 check from the Capistrano Academic Resources to Education Foundation. The money will go to purchase a math software program called Fraction Nation.
M August 26, 2011 at 02:04 PM
Any idea why Trustees Anna Bryson, Ellen Addonizio and Sue Palazzo voting against it? I've noticed they always seem to be in opposition with the other four.
Penny Arévalo August 26, 2011 at 02:40 PM
Actually, Anna Bryson tends to vote with the majority most of the time on a split vote (the vote to ask the state permission to increase classes up to 33 students was a notable exception: http://missionviejo.patch.com/articles/capo-trustees-regretfully-ask-to-increase-class-sizes) . Here, she said she believes the staff has put into place a "best, super-standard process" when it comes to seeking out the best contractors/consultants at the best pricing. Ellen Addonizio suggested splitting the motion (and thus the bid) and awarding the school-attendance-boundary consultant at least. Sue Palazzo said the district reapportions geographic areas every 10 years and felt confident they could move forward. Dr. Farley was strongly urging the board to approve the contracts.
CE August 26, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Yasemin, the history of the boundaries goes back a long, long way. CUSD was the original school district in south OC and included all the land from San Clemente to Tustin. In the 70s, Irvine Unified and Saddleback Unified split themselves off (if I remember correctly). RSM didn't yet exist, MV was not incorporated, and very few homes had been built in at the time in what came to be known as north MV. I don't know why Saddleback chose the boundaries it did, but it probably had to do with where the homes in the area were located at the time. Next time, before you insult CUSD, try a little fact checking. I'm sure you'll find it difficult and challenging, but I can assure you it's worthwhile. Thank you.
Yasemin August 26, 2011 at 04:11 PM
CE, thank you for the information. As you can see.I never did understand why there is a high school down the block from my childrens middle school, and another high school close by, why it is that we have a high school that is past the community college. I think there are five schools closer. I always thought Missoin Viejo should have its own school district. I apoloogize for you interperting my comments as an insult to the school district. It was never meant to be that way. Thank you.
M August 26, 2011 at 07:50 PM
Thank you Penny for clarifying!

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