A spat erupted between Capistrano Unified School District trustees on Monday, with the board majority accusing two colleagues of trying to shut down the school district.
Trustees were considering staff’s request to borrow $30 million in tax revenue anticipation notes, which have become common tools for school cash-strapped school districts. The TRANs provide money now and are repaid with the tax money provided by the state in the next fiscal year.
But Trustees Ellen Addonizio and Sue Palazzo pointed out the district already has one TRANs loan outstanding, and that this was the first time CUSD issued a TRANs that went across two fiscal years.
Addonizio wanted more of an update on the district's finances, including a special meeting, before voting on the item. Superintendent Joe Farley responded he believed district staff had well briefed trustees on the state of the district.
The trustees, reading prepared statements, also accused the other board members of getting the district into financial trouble by restoring furlough days and other cuts to teachers in 2010.
That issue has been hashed over again and again—a resident even filed an unsuccessful lawsuit to stop it—and trustees let Addonizio and Palazzo know they felt it was time to move on.
“I am offended that it is continually brought up,” Trustee Anna Bryson snapped at the pair. Ironically, Bryson was elected as an ally of the two. The other trustees also voiced their displeasure, especially when staff told the trustees refusing to act on the TRANs Monday would ultimately leave the district without cash to pay its employees and other bills.
“Why don’t you just make the motion you want—to shut down the district,” Trustee Lynne Hatton asked the pair.
Trustee Gary Pritchard added that he couldn't even wrap his head around what Addonizio and Palazzo were trying to accomplish, but labeled the effort "ludicrious."
Trustee John Alpay accused the pair of stumping for the November election, when he, Brick, Pritchard and Palazzo face re-election.
It was business czar Ron Lebs' last meeting, too. He was the one handling the issue. "You're going to miss us, aren't you," Alpay asked.
The motion to start work on the TRANs passed 4-2, with Jack Brick absent. Trustees next meet January 25.
I'll get some audio up when I can...