Tuesday, August 04, 2009

CORTINES' + MEHULA'S LETTERS RE: LAUSD'S BUILDING PROGRAM: "The District is on track to deliver the schools and modernizations promised to the community".

Yesterday Superintendent Cortines wrote to the community:


This morning Chief Facilities Executive Guy Mehula wrote to the facilities team:


Dear team,

I recently had the opportunity to speak with the Division leadership about the current state of the Program and the upcoming changes in Facilities and I wanted to personally share the information, as well as some new information on leadership changes with you as well.

I am very proud of the progress the Division is making and you should be as well.  We have completed more than 60 percent of the Two-Semester Neighborhood School Program and our Modernization team has completed 90 percent of their Program.  Our schools are safer and the students are succeeding.  Graduation rates this year for students at new schools were some of the highest in the District -- 92 percent graduation rate at Miguel Contreras Complex, 88 percent at Roybal Learning Center and 93 percent at West Adams Prep. 

We’re on track to complete the Program, but we have not delivered on the promise yet. We still have more than $5 Billion worth of work to complete, including 52 K-12 schools and 2,500 modernization projects as well as the return of 90 schools to a traditional two-semester calendar.  It is important to remain focused on completing the Program and delivering on the promises we have made to the students and community.  The current Modernization Program is scheduled to be completed by 2011 and the majority of the Two-Semester Neighborhood School Program will be delivered by the 2012-2013 school year.  The Deferred Maintenance team must be laser focused on completing projects within their current available funding, as we will not have more of these dollars until 2015.  I am confident that the remaining work that we have to accomplish will bring many more successes.

The overwhelming support of Measure Q in November of 2008 attests to the confidence voters have in the work you are doing and the improvements being made for our students.  While we have the authority to undertake an additional $7 Billion worth of work, due to a decrease in assessed valuation of property in LAUSD and the bond’s legal limit on our debt capacity, the District cannot currently access these funds and has placed Measure Q on hold.  At this time it is anticipated this Program cannot begin until 2015.  We are doing everything we can to identify alternative funding sources as well as legislative fixes that will enable us to begin the Measure Q Program and undertake additional projects made possible by savings from the current Program as quickly as possible.  Even though the Measure Q Program is on hold, it is not the end of the Program – we still have more work to do in the current Program.

Twelve years ago the voters of LAUSD approved the first local school bond in 34 years to improve the health and safety of our schools.  Due in no small part to the expertise and commitment of our team, voters have continued to overwhelmingly support LAUSD school bonds.  Our initial $2.4 Billion Program has evolved into 5 local bonds approved over 11 years totaling $20.605 Billion of local bonds only.  We will sell $3.9 Billion worth of bonds this fiscal year to enable the completion of our current Program and the delivery of our Two-Semester Neighborhood School goal.  The Program remains on schedule.  The plan we are presenting to the Board in the Fall does not place any projects on hold or stop construction currently underway; if necessary financing will be used to offset any delays in State cash flow. 

Over the next three years as we work to achieve our goals, the overall workload and staff will decrease.  A Division-wide staffing plan has been created with input from each branch.  As work in areas decrease, the staff in those areas will as well.  Staff reductions have already begun in some of the pre-construction branches; however the vast majority of Facilities employees will not be affected until Summer 2010.  Each Director has specific information for their branch and will be sharing it with you over the next several weeks.  We are committed to providing you with information in advance so you can plan for your next opportunity at the appropriate time, which will also help ensure you can remain focused on completing the Program. 

Earlier this year I shared with you the plan to reorganize the Division.  Even though the Measure Q Program is on hold, we will continue to move forward with the reorganization as well as a consolidation of the team under one roof.  This goal will help increase productivity; aligning functions while also providing more opportunities to improve communication and learn from your peers and leaders.  The Superintendent has approved our consolidation plan which will relocate all staff from the 7th and Bixel building to Beaudry.  As of January 1, 2010 all Facilities staff in the central office will be working out of Beaudry, floors 19-23.  We will publish more details on this move, but feel free to direct any questions or concerns to Christine E. Marez, Office of Construction Management Standards, who is leading this initiative.

As part of our Facilities reorganization, we have advertised and begun filling senior management positions with District employees in the new organization.  The Board has already approved James Sohn  as the Deputy Chief Facilities Executive.  I am pleased to announce the following selections, subject to final approval by the Board:

· Neil Gamble will be shifting from Maintenance and Operations (M&O) to lead the New Construction Branch. 

· Fred Smith has done a great job as the acting Deputy Chief Facilities Executive and will stay on for a period of time to help facilitate a smooth transition.

· Mark Hovatter will be shifting from Director of Bond Planning to Director of M&O.

· Erik Blum will continue to serve as Director of Facilities Program Management (the new Facilities Support Services Branch). 

· Judith Reece has been selected as the Deputy Director of Facilities Contracts.

Additionally, we are completing the process of selecting a Director of Facilities Planning and Development.  At this time we do not anticipate selecting the Director of Construction or the Director of Design.  Both of these functions will continue to operate under the New Construction and Existing Facilities Organization for now.  Routine updates will be provided to you on this reorganization effort as we proceed. 

I know that times may seem uncertain, but I am committed to supporting your efforts and communicating updates on changes as quickly as possible.  If you have any concerns or questions please bring them to your supervisor’s attention immediately, communication is the key to success.  You may also send me a question or suggestion via the laschools.org website or the CFE suggestion box mounted outside of the elevators on the 23rd floor. 

Thank you for all that you do for the students of LAUSD. 



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