Friday, August 20, 1999

equipment denied

$1 million is approved for safety
resurfacing and handicap access

Ed board backs state librarian unanimously

By Harold Morse


The state Board of Education has decided against buying playground equipment for public schools in the coming fiscal year.

The board's Committee on Support Services had recommended a $3 million capital improvement project -- part of a proposed supplemental request to the Legislature -- to replace old and unsafe playground equipment in the 2000-2001 fiscal year.

"The basic issue is, Should or should not playground equipment be included for CIP?" said Mitsugi Nakashima, BOE chairman. Previous decisions had indicated it should not.

The board decided to provide no equipment, voting instead to approve $1 million for safety surfacing on playgrounds and to provide accessibility for students with disabilities.

The board also approved transferring the remaining $2 million from the playground request to noise and heat abatement.

This would provide some soundproofing at schools near noisy thoroughfares and quiet central air-conditioning units for schools troubled by noise and heat.

The vote was 10-0, with board member Lex Brodie abstaining.

The funding request will be part of a $14.45 million supplemental budget request to the state Legislature for fiscal year 2001.

Paul LeMahieu, state superintendent, told board members that an earlier estimate of $50 million over 10 years to replacement playground equipment was incorrect.

The estimate is closer to $7 million to $8 million for 2003-2013, he said.

Ed board backs state
librarian unanimously

By Harold Morse


State Librarian Virginia Lowell won a unanimous vote of confidence from the Board of Education last night.

"I move that the Board of Education inform the state librarian the board has unanimously approved to grant her more than a satisfactory rating," said board member Herbert Watanabe.

After a second to his motion, all 11 members present voted aye.

"Well, hallelujah! And on to another year," a smiling Lowell said later. "I think that the best thing that has happened this year is that the staff have come around."

Staff support has made her look good, and it makes the system work well, she said. "We haven't made any missteps this year. We've made steady, constant progress."

The board approved a four-year contract for Lowell June 17, which requires the governor's signature. The contract also allows Lowell to be reimbursed for moving expenses from New York.

She came here in August 1998 to take the $85,000-a-year post. She replaced Bart Kane, who was removed after 16 years following difficulties with a book purchasing contract.

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