Dear Parents and Community Members,
The current Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between the City of Beverly Hills (City) and the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) expires this week on June 30, 2017. If the JPA expires, the City will not have a contract in place to allow residents, organizations, and groups to continue to use BHUSD facilities.
For more than 95 years, state law has allowed public agencies to work together by signing joint powers agreements. Each JPA is unique - reflecting a negotiated, mutually-acceptable agreement among public agencies that have joined together for a common purpose. Expenditures of funds must be for a public purpose to avoid being a gift from one agency to another.
In existence since 1978, the purpose of this JPA is to provide residents, organizations, and groups in Beverly Hills access to BHUSD fields and facilities for programs offered through the City’s Community Services Department.
“In light of Beverly Hills’ limited open space, this (JPA) is an important contribution to the well-being of the community: the City depends on BHUSD facilities, buildings and athletic fields to further its mission in providing residents with recreation and green spaces for camps, sports, concerts, adult programs, aquatic classes and pre-schools.” -City of Beverly Hills (July 2008)
BHUSD fields and facilities are used by the community over 1,000 hours each week over six district sites. Organizations such as American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), Beverly Hills Little League (BHLL), Beverly Hills Basketball League (BHBL), Religious organizations, Preschool Programs, Adventure Camp, After School Enrichment Classes, Bevwood Basketball Camp, Superstars Dance Academy, Aquatic Classes, Adult Basketball League, Adult Education Classes, Adult Fitness & Weight Training, Beverly Hills Sports Camp, Tennis Camp, Adult Soccer League, A Taste of Broadway, musical and theater groups, STAR Education, Lacrosse League, Youth Football League, Wrestling Club, Math, Engineering & Science Summer Camps, Entrepreneurship Camp for Girls, Beverly Hills Junior Police Summer Camp, Houdini’s Magic Summer Camp, Dynamo Sports Club Martial Arts, and Boy Scouts of America, all rely on the JPA.
In addition, the JPA provides access to BHUSD computer labs, fitness and multipurpose rooms, auditoriums, along with school library facilities that supplement the City’s library system. The JPA also allows for school aged children of City employees to attend BHUSD schools.
Under the terms of the 2008 JPA, the City provided BHUSD with $10.3 million each year for four years, with a one-time, upfront funding of nearly $3 million for capital projects and other services.
The JPA effective July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2016 was negotiated between the parties in closed session. At that time the City cited “budget deficits” and asked that BHUSD accept a reduction in the JPA to $9.825 million a year for the subsequent four years, representing a $1.9 million reduction to BHUSD over the four-year term. BHUSD agreed to the reduction of the base amount of the JPA, recognizing the unique partnership between the City and the school district.
In 2016, the City and BHUSD agreed to a one-year extension through June 30, 2017 so that the parties could negotiate a myriad of new terms, clarify the parties’ respective obligations, and implement placement of closed-circuit video cameras. Over the past year both parties have agreed to many of the new terms and obligations. However a week ago, the City requested additional new terms to be included in the proposed JPA. BHUSD is currently reviewing these requests, which include several key issues.
For example, it is unlawful for the District to allow the City’s ESL and adult league sports (unaccompanied adults) to roam our campuses and interact with minor age students, which will require the district to pay for additional supervision.
The City has also proposed restrictive language that would make facility use by the Beverly Hills Education Foundation (BHEF) and Parent Teacher Association’s (PTA’s) subordinate to the City’s use. Under the City’s proposal, the PTA’s and BHEF would have to ask permission from the City for any and all school facility use, so as not to compete with any city-permitted activities.
The District has always maintained individual school PTA’s and BHEF have the same priority of facility use as the District. In fact, California Education Code and contractual obligations regarding access and exclusivity of programming, mean the District can not agree to the City’s more restrictive-use language.
Over the past 5 years the operational costs to BHUSD have risen significantly. In addition to covering additional wear-and-tear on our facilities, the district has incurred increased costs in the following areas: utilities (gas, electricity, water) are up 17%; labor costs (custodians, security, maintenance, grounds keeping) are up 22%, and the cost of trash collection has increased 63%. Supplies (bathroom consumables, paper, soap) have also increased.
This past Friday June 23, the City sent out a Press Release to the community indicating it would only agree to a six-month extension of the JPA under current terms for the current amount. The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) requires school districts submit a budget with annual revenues, making a six-month agreement impractical.
For the reasons listed above, BHUSD has proposed a one-year extension of the JPA, including the mutually agreed upon terms that have been negotiated over the past year. BHUSD is also requesting an increase in the amount of the JPA to cover the rising costs to operate its facilities.
In 2012 when the City was experiencing budget deficits, BHUSD agreed to reduce the amount of the JPA. The reductions to the JPA have never been restored and over the past 5 years have totaled $2.4 million. BHUSD now finds itself in a similar financial position as the City once was.
BHUSD is asking the City to increase the JPA to $13.5 million to recoup the $2.4 million reduction over the past 5 years, and to cover increased costs of facility operations over the past decade. The $13.5 million amount is less than 2.5% of the City’s Reserves of $570 million. The City Council has historically supported the school district. Given the City’s significantly increased reserves, this is an opportunity for the City to spend a very small portion on its residents, organizations, and public schools.
“During my 12 years as (City) treasurer the City’s Reserves have more than doubled to a record $570 million.” Eliot Finkel, former City Treasurer (March 2017).
BHUSD remains optimistic that the City Council at its next meeting on Thursday, June 29th will continue to recognize the value of the JPA to this community, acknowledge the increased operational costs absorbed by BHUSD over the last decade, restore the reductions to the JPA, and agree to extend the JPA for one-year under the terms proposed by BHUSD.
I realize this is a lot of information but feel it is important for you to understand how we got to this point and how we are trying to resolve this matter in the best interest of both the school district and the community.
Dr. Michael Bregy