By Tina Richards
The Orange Unified School District Board of Trustees appointed new officers, were briefed on preliminary activities targeting a 2016 bond measure, and danced around the subject of term limits.
Rick Ledesma was named president, Alexia Deligianni-Brydges, vice president, and Kathy Moffat, clerk, all by unanimous consent. Moffat, as she has for the past several years, broached the idea of holding meetings twice a month instead of once. Her rationale, she said, was because the board has a lot of business to address in 2016, and it could better serve the community with more regularly scheduled meetings, and less “specially called” meetings that the public is often not aware of. Her idea, as before, gained no traction among her colleagues.
John Ortega suggested the board adopt term limits, noting that it would arouse more public involvement, give more people the opportunity to run, and bring a change of mindset to the district. Ledesma called the timing of Ortega’s suggestion “off balance” because the board was short a trustee, and he thought “we should have a full board before voting on such a weighty item.”
Time not limited
Deligianni-Brydges asked how soon they had to decide if they wanted to place term limits on the November ballot. The cutoff is 88 days before the election. Recognizing that they didn’t need to make a decision before the seventh trustee is elected in March, no one seconded Ortega’s motion to consider term limits.
In preparation for a 2016 bond measure, the board’s facilities subcommittee met with construction firms, in anticipation of selecting several to work with the architects who created the 2014 master plans. Those plans will be updated, actual construction budgets developed, and a clear definition of what the bond money could finance identified.
On the financial side, consultant Adam Bauer presented an overview of a proposed $340 million bond, with a 30-year lifespan paid for by homeowners at $39 per $100,000 of their property’s assessed value. He explained that issuing a bond sooner than later is preferable because interest rates and construction costs are going up. Because the overall valuation of property in the school district “holds up,” the proposed bond would be attractive to investors.
Small start, big finish
He recommended issuing two bonds ($130 million, $210 million) in series, to allow the district to recalibrate before committing fully to $340 million. Interest on the full amount over 30 years would be $299 million. Ledesma asked why the assessment was figured to be $39 per $100,000 of assessed value, and how shorter-term bonds would impact the interest rate.
Bauer replied that $39 was the number most taxpayers said they could live with. He admitted that shorter-term bonds would drive down interest rates, but that he hadn’t done an analysis on them.
“I’d like to see short-term scenarios, “ Ledesma said. “I’d like to have different options, with the risk versus benefits of each.”
Bauer assured him that the board would have all the information it needed in advance of making a decision. During the final minutes of the meeting, Mark Wayland, without fanfare, announced his plans to resign from the board, effective Dec. 31. He subsequently changed his mind, and will, for now, continue to represent Trustee Area 6.