August 21, 2019
Dear San Marino community,
As part of the Board's continued effort to communicate with the San Marino community about matters affecting the San Marino Unified School District, as President of the Board of Education, I will be sending out periodic communications to provide more in-depth information about particular subjects.
While the San Marino community has always had the opportunity to learn about the District through (1) attending School Board, PTA, and District informational meetings, (2) contacting the District and Board members to ask questions and voice opinions, and (3) accessing factual information on the District's website, the goal of these periodic communications is to get the information to you and make it as easy as possible for you to learn more about the District. My hope is that by providing this information, everyone in the community will have access to the same set of accurate facts. 
I recognize that the information I will be providing in the attachments can be detailed and lengthy, but I want to ensure the community understands the history and intricacies of the subject matter. I will do my best to take complex and complicated topics and explain them as clearly and succinctly as possible.  I apologize in advance for any inadvertent mistakes, which are mine alone.

Today's topic:  "How are School District Facilities Financed, and How Did the Barth Athletic Complex Get Built?"
To learn more about public school facility financing in general and how the Barth Athletic Complex (BAC) was financed, please click on the first document entitled "Public School Facility Financing and the BAC."
To learn more about the history of the Barth Athletic Complex and the various facts and decisions that resulted in the new BAC, please view the second document entitled "Barth Athletic Complex Timeline."
If you don't have time to read through the linked documents, here is a quick summary:
  1. This District and the San Marino community are extremely fortunate to have the financial support of so many families, organizations and foundations.  Many San Marino residents, local civic groups and foundations joined Avery and Andy Barth as BAC donors, with donations exceeding $4.8 million (excluding the Barths' debt service donation of $2 million). Many of the donors no longer have children in the District, yet they chose to direct their philanthropy to fill a longstanding need in San Marino.   Please join the Board in thanking these generous families for their ongoing interest in making the District a better place for the community's children to obtain a world-class education.  (See full list of donors in the BAC Timeline document.)
  2. The District, the Board, donors and community members recognized that there was a way to transform an underutilized and outdated facility into a modern, safe and state-of-the-art mixed-use facility by leveraging the generosity of San Marino donors and State funds.  With limited opportunities to improve District facilities, the Board determined it was in the best interest of the District to take advantage of $10.5 million in State funds, District funds and donations.   
  3. The Board's decision to take on $6.5 million in debt to build the BAC is one that is frequently made by school boards throughout California.  Because the State does not provide dedicated funding for school facilities, very few, if any, school districts have the financial resources to fully fund construction, modernization or repair projects without any type of financing or debt, whether it is from a facilities bond, a Certificate of Participation (COP), or some other method.
  4. The Board of Education had the legal authority to approve the BAC in 2015 and the COPs in 2017.  The Board made these decisions with the San Marino community's knowledge, consent and support.  The issue of the COPs was properly agendized, presented and discussed at three different publicly noticed meetings in 2016 and 2017.  The opportunity for Public Comment was provided but there was no Public Comment presented against the COP agenda item.  Four individuals spoke in favor of the COPs and there was substantial public support expressed in other ways for the BAC.
  5. The District took advantage of State matching funds and has been approved to receive up to $2.4 M in State funding, but the District does not expect to receive the funds until 2022-23.  Once the funds are received, they will go back into the District's Cash Flow fund.
  6. The debt service on the COPs is currently being paid by a donation from Avery and Andy Barth, not the District.  If San Marino voters do not pass a facilities bond before 2021, the District will consider other revenue sources to meet its obligations.
  7. District staff and its independent construction management firm did an excellent job in overseeing construction and managing costs. Comparing the budget published on February 13, 2018 to the latest published budget as of May 28, 2019, the District is $1M under budget with a change order percentage of less than two percent. 
Not unlike most other school districts, San Marino now faces some difficult decisions given that the State does not fully fund our schools' facilities needs.  In early 2019, the Board established a Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC), consisting of 17 residents (parents, former parents, teacher, student, community members) who are experts in the fields of engineering, architecture, construction management, public and private finance, and more to examine and assess the District's facilities needs.   Click here to view agendas, minutes, presentations and composition of the FAC.  The FAC will be providing a recommendation to the Board in the Fall regarding the District's facilities needs.  
If you have made it all the way through this admittedly long communication, thank you for taking the time and for your interest in our schools!  I hope that you have a better understanding of the facts regarding how public school facilities financing works in California and how it has impacted SMUSD facilities, including the Barth Athletic Complex. 

Lisa Link
President, SMUSD Board of Education
San Marino Unified School District Board of Education

Lisa Link
Chris Norgaard
Vice President
C. Joseph Chang
Shelley Ryan
Corey Barberie