Just over a year ago, BHUSD facilities director Karen Christiansen was found guilty of felony conflict of interest for triple-dipping the Measure E facilities bond ($334 million). Not only was she on our district payroll, but paid her ‘Strategic Concepts’ firm millions on the side and took more money from an outside firm while steering district business to it. ‘Strategic concepts’ indeed! While she serves a 4-year prison term, word comes from the Measure E auditor that the district is failing to impose sufficient risk controls. Uncapped contracts are let without competitive bidding and fail to limit per-hour subcontractor rates. Each of which exposes the district (and taxpayers) to losses. This comes after the City Council just bailed out our district with an extra $4 million – a step controversial enough that the city deferred putting another school bond initiative from the March ballot. This comes as the district has notified five teachers of pending layoffs.
Safe Routes to School improvements for BH Unified school district? Recently we mentioned the Beverly Hills Unified district’s master planning process in which a needs assessment and facilities redesign promises to get our district back on track after a decade or more of wayward planning and even a corruption investigation. Backed by Measure E, which authorized the district in 2008 to issue $334 million (no typo!) in bonds for structural upgrades to school plants,the district has unimaginable capacity to completely reform our city’s four K-8 school campuses and the high school. (Read more about Measure E in the 2010 audit.)
There is a huge opportunity here to focus some of that spending on bike-friendly improvements. With a new Superintendent and a relatively new school board in place, perhaps the time is right to create bike safety programs, put new racks on school grounds, and extend improvements to school-proximate intersections in line with Safe Routes to School recommendations. Read our letter to the new Superintendent. Let the district know that you support student cycling and safe road conditions that will get them to school and back intact. Email, phone (310) 551-5100, or drop them a line at 255 South Lasky Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Tell them Better Bike sent you!