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School Board Votes to Invest in $1.5M Home

The board intends to lease the North Doheny Drive property to Superintendent Gary Woods.

The Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education voted this week to spend about $1.535 million to buy a house in the city with the intent of renting it out to and his family.

Board President Brian Goldberg said that low housing and interest rates made it the right time for the district to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase the home, located at 220 N. Doheny Drive. He added that Woods has not been involved in the discussion to buy the property.

“My hope is the superintendent will rent the home from us, but if not this is an investment for the district. We will be able to use it to offset some of our obligations for our required reserve,” Goldberg said, referring to the fact that as a district, the BHUSD needs to maintain of at least 3 percent of its overall budget. “Once this property is paid off it can be used as leverage for that reserve amount, which would free up about 3 percent of our working capital in the general budget to use for the education for our students.” 

The two-level, 2,665-square-foot home has four bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and sits on a 5750-square-foot lot, according to its listing. It appears to be in good condition with modern appliances and bathrooms, as shown by photos on the listing.

Goldberg, who said the purchase was his idea, said no district funds will be used to buy the house. It would be entirely paid for by a municipal finance bank loan.

“Unfortunately we're in deficit spending right now because of the cuts that have been made by the governor, and the projected cuts for next year are going to be catastrophic if they go into effect,” Goldberg said. “We had to start looking out for our best interests and for long-term solutions to these financial problems.”

There was virtually no discussion of the decision and vote during the four-hour June 12 board meeting. The agenda item notes that district staff “recommends approval of the purchase of real property investment” as well as authorizing “inspections and other required related services not to exceed $10,000.”

Noah Margo was the sole board member to vote against the purchase.

“I was not pleased about how the proposal was presented,” he said, but added that he could ultimately support the plan, which must be voted on at least one more time before the district proceeds.

“I do [real estate] for a living,” Margo said. “From that perspective, it is a good investment.” 

Woods became the BHUSD superintendent July 1, 2011, under a four-year contract. He had been superintendent of the San Marino Unified School District, which has ranked No. 1 in California’s academic performance scores in recent years.

The superintendent has four children, three of whom presently attend city schools. He currently lives in a rented apartment, he told Patch last year.

If the sale goes through, the board would likely rent the house to Woods at a subsidized rate. There have been four BHUSD superintendents in the last five years and the home purchase appears to be partly aimed at helping keep Woods in the district.

The move is reminiscent of when the City Council purchased a home on South La Peer Drive for then-city manager Rod Wood several years ago. The city still owns the home, which has depreciated in value since its purchase.

Do you agree with BHUSD's plan to buy a home and lease it to the superintendent? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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cutop June 21, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Mr. Hall, thank you for the followup. I figured as much, but was just making sure. What I am most interested now is the subcommittee's decision process in selecting Mr. Libow. There does seem to be a conflict of interest in Lisa Korbatov being on the subcommittee which selected him if she did receive campaign donations from him... something which today's issue of the Beverly Hills Weekly reports. Further, I agree with John Millan's and Rudy Cole's assessment in the same paper that the Board shouldn't be spending our money on speculative real estate ventures as it sets a bad precedent.
Dori Kenneally June 22, 2012 at 01:08 AM
I am shocked by three things: 1. The tenor of this exchange. 2. Our school board bought a house and eliminated foreign language as a requirement for all of our 8th grade students. (I was actually hoping to see it re-instated as an elective in 7th grade. So much for our parity with private schools.) and 3. The only comment addressing foreign language in this thread appears to have been ignored.
Dori Kenneally June 22, 2012 at 01:14 AM
I completely agree with you Erika. We have an immediate need to educate our children in a manner that's competitive with private schools in our area. We are eroding our own high academic standards, and it is shameful to be purchasing a house while cutting academics.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 22, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Dori, we are not choosing one for the other. We would all like to have foreign language restored to the Pre. Prop. 13 days in our districts when Students began in 2nd grade. We are not cutting anything with regard to foreign language. I have learned that at least one K-8 was not requiring it, we also were forcing Students to take a language they did not want to take, for instance Spanish class was full and so we would force a student who wanted to take Spanish to take French. We must balance short term goals vs. long term goals. We are spending down the reserve now to maintain small class sizes, maintain programs with no lay offs and no furlough days, which effects each and every student at each and every school. The purchase of this property has nothing to do with proposed cuts, they are separate and distinct issues and linking them is just incorrect. The cuts have to do with the Governor's proposed budget and whether his tax plan passes. The purchase has to do with a creative way to free up a 3% mandatory reaerve for the district. I feel very comfortable with the job this board has done balancing the needs of our students.
Tom Culp June 22, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Please read what former Mayor Stephen P. Webb, Rudy Cole, and others are saying about the home purchuse cover up in the Beverly hills weekly. Quote from John Millan "The use of reserve funds to purchase property unrelated to the mission of the district is a radical and unprecedented departure from the norm. As such, you certainly would expect a complete and open discussion in the public prior to implementing the policy. Two cryptic references buried in the board’s agenda do not constitute full public discussion. Goldberg’s e-mail blast is full of first-person-pronoun declarations about how and why HE took these actions, but that is more an admission of guilt than proper public disclosure."
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 22, 2012 at 06:13 PM
The fact that you are quoting John Millan who does not understand how Distruct finances work shows your bias. And the fact you refuse to understand the simple fact that no general fund reserves are being used for this purpose is increible. No Money Down loan, no funds from general fund being used to finance this home. Just because people want to mistate facts and score political points does not make it so. Again for all we know you and John are the same person. Hope to see you on Tuesday.
Tom Culp June 22, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Rudy Cole Beverly Hills weekly "How the board has handled the purchase and the possible lease to Dr. Woods is, at best, distracting and, at worst, a total disregard of transparency in public policy decision making. Even worse, is the continuing claim that this was done without the superintendent’s involvement and that everything was properly noticed and open for public input. How could any reasonable person accept the statement that Dr. Woods knew nothing about the purchase? Or that he had no involvement in the plan to provide him, and his family, with a home." Dr. please dont say you think Im Rudy.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 22, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Probably not but who knows. What I do know is you are quoting opinion pieces not factual stories. Rudy is entitled to his opinion as are you but confusing opinion for facts is a problem. Rudy shared his opinion which you seem to like but he is a columnist not a reporter. I still think if you were really interested in understanding the issues you would attend out Board meeting this Tuesday. The agenda should be on line now at www.bhusd.org
Tom Culp June 23, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I might have to watch it from home because I dont want to miss Charlie Sheen's first episode of anger management.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 23, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Very funny, that is what DVRs are for
Jodi Ticknor June 23, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Why does the district have the money to buy property (And what funds are being used for this? I sincerely hope not bond money), but can no longer afford one of the high school drama teachers or add another Spanish teacher for 7th graders?
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 23, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Jodi, no bond money is being used we are receiving municipal financing, 15 year loan zero money down. Onto your other questions, the simple answer is that we have been cut by the State of California as part of our fare share cuts. The Governor is requiring ever district in the state to project the cuts he plans if his tax plan does not pass in November. As a district we have kept class sizes small, no layoffs of any teachers and no furlough days. This benefits each and every students in each and every grade. The purchase of this property has nothing to do with the potential cuts we have taken and everything to do with less revenue and anticipated cuts. We are using the one time money we successful won to maintain these programs, Whether we purchased this property of not we would have to make adjustments to our budget to maintain as many programs as possible. Remember last year we have the very successful One Campaign by BHEF which raised over 750K, those funds are gone, so in addition to cuts from the State, we also "lost' 750K in revenue that we have covered and maintained programs for our students. I hope this helps explain what is really going on.
Larry Stern June 24, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Dear Mr. Goldberg -- I do not follow your logic. The purchase of this property has EVERYTHING to do with the cuts that you are making in the budget and the deficit spending that's rapidly wiping out our reserves. Even if you were to amortize the 15 year loan at zero % interest, purchasing this property will cost the district $100K per year. More likely, with interest, you are spending about $130K - $140K per year. That doesn't include maintenance or insurance. Are you proposing to charge the Superintendent $10 - 11K per month to cover the expenses of purchasing this property or are you taking the money out of the general fund---- where it could be better used for keeping cuts far away from the classroom as possible? Also, I would like to know why a Superintendent making $250K + car can't pay for his own housing. I believe he was earning much less in San Marino. Is this a ploy to lock him in as our resident house puppet? Second, I would like to know how you would propose to take a single family house with no equity nor liquidity and use that as a place holder for our 3% cash reserve. THIS IS THE KIND OF FRAUD THAT YOU GOT WHACKED FOR BY A UNANIMOUS SAN BERNARDINO JURY! Finally, --- as it is abundantly clear from your rap sheet that you're neither an expert in real estate nor finance, why don't you consult the Finance Committee so they can explain the #s to you. You are a PhD in Poli Sci but apparently you never learned that it's always the coverup. SHAME ON YOU!
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 24, 2012 at 03:25 AM
You are 100% wrong. The financing we are securing can only be used for this purpose. We havenot authorized the financing so the amount is not known and not factored into our budget reductions. There is no cover up because we have not done anything improper. Just because other board members on previous boards were involved in overseeing criminal activity does not mean this board is. No matter how much those who supported those board members would like it to be so. These are facts not opinions. If someone thinks any laws have been broken I would encourage them to contact the DA. When I felt there was criminal activity I fought hard for the DA to investigate. Now people do not like a decision so they claim something is afoul. Fine to disagree it is another thing to fail to understand and try to claim something is criminal when you have no evidence of that. I have tried to explain this but it is clear you and others are not interested in learning only spreading misinformation and unfounded accusations.
Larry Stern June 24, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Mr Goldberg -- Please stay on topic and answer the questions. We need not debate your legal troubles. They are a matter of public record & I am not interested in your opinion of previous boards. Your post stated that you are using a 15 year loan with zero money down. You have also stated that the property is approximately $1.5 million. If you are financing the entire purchase price, my math is correct. You must come up with between $130K - $140K a year to finance this transaction. I strongly believe this "investment" is not appropriate for a school district in serious financial straits and which already borrows cash to pay the bills. You are rapidly spending down reserve money in a Basic Aid district that should be increasing that cushion. Your own latest multi-year projections show a decrease in reserves from 9% in 2011-12 to 3% in 2013-2014. If you want to provide the Superintendent with housing, then -- as former Finance Committee member Damien Bean suggests -- a simple housing allowance would be more appropriate.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 24, 2012 at 06:26 AM
You are the one who cannot stay on topic. I think it is important to expose the motives of your posts. My motives are clear to help secure the long term finances of the district. You can and have disagreed with this plan but you are incorrect in your analysis. Providing a housing stipend does not build equity for the district, or help build a reserve over a 15 year period. A housing allowance is simply a raise and the district receives no benefit for. Investing in real property to free up reserve funds is a good investment. I hope you will attend the meeting on Tuesday when we discuss the financing. We are spending down the one time money we recovered from an illegal no bid contract voted on by the former Board members. You seem to want to discuss a civil case involving no public funds but ignore the squandering of public funds by those you praise and quote. I think we can all undestand your motives clearly. As we also know Patch does not verify the identity of any poster. I verified that these posts are indeed from me to our local papers, again I have nothing to hide.
Larry Stern June 24, 2012 at 07:12 AM
Mr Goldberg-Once again, another non-responsive non-answer to my questions. You seem obsessed with prior boards, phantom motives, and your fraud judgment. Let me repeat some of my questions for you: (1) Will financing this property on the terms you outline (i.e. zero $ down and 15 year amortization and a purchase price of $1.5million) cost the district over $100K per year? If not, why not? (2) How would you propose to take a single family house with no equity nor liquidity and use that as a place holder for our 3% cash reserve? (3) Why is this an appropriate investment for a district which is running a deficit, borrowing cash and rapidly spending down its reserves to a dangerously low level? (4) Have you consulted the Finance Committee or any other qualified experts about the advisability of this transaction, its terms, etc. other than getting the rubber stamp recommendation of the district administration who work for Supt Woods and ultimately for you? I await your reply.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 24, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Again you spin conspiracies, make personal attacks and when I answer your questions you refuse to read the answers. It seems you do not understand the basic principles of real eatate purchases, mortgages and building equity or you are just unwilling to. I am betting that the majority of Beverly Hills residents do understand these principles well. Why don't you stop pretending you are interested in my answers and admit you are just looking to score political points. This item will be discussed at our third public board meeting this Tuesday. At that time the board will be discussing the financing of this purchase and voting. I would encourage you to attend, and here from me on the record at our Board meeting. It is clear you are not interested in even considering my position.
Larry Stern June 24, 2012 at 08:11 AM
Mr Goldberg- Where are the answers you say you have provided? All I have asked you to do is answer the 4 questions which I have numbered for your convenience. Be assured I have extensive real estate experience and am genuinely interested in your answers. Again, I await your reply.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 24, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Than you know what a great investment Beverky Hills real estate is. You must also know that real estate prices have not been lower since 2002 and you must also know that interest rates for 15 year loans have never on the history of this country been this low. Again, the Board will be discussing and voting on the financing of this investment on Tuesday, June 26th at 7 pm in the Salter Theatre at BHHS. The agenda has now been posted for your review at www.bhusd.org
Tom Culp June 24, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Larry, Goldberg wont answer because he doesn’t know how. He is more interested in having anonymous posters come to his board meeting where he can display us like sacrificial lambs in front of his loyal subjects. Again that has nothing to do with answering the questions. At a board meeting we get a chance to speak while board members look on with a blank stare. Then question time is over, have your seat while the board disregards whatever we said and carries on the meeting as if everything they say is the same as Thore dropping his hammer.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 24, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Funny more personal attacks from people who make up an identity while i continue to do the public's business in public. When you cannot argue the facts attack the person. The agenda is posted the meeting is set and the questions have been answerd and will be discussed again during the meeting this Tuesday, June 26th at 7 pm. Broadcast live and taped for rebroadcast for the communities benefit. Your continued personal attacks only demonstrate the true motives for your comments in Patch.
Tom Culp June 25, 2012 at 12:58 AM
personal attack (plural personal attacks) 1. Making of an abusive remark instead of providing evidence when examining another person's claims or comments. Goldberg, No one is calling you names and they have provided evidence when asking your motives. We ask a question and all we get back is you telling us we have a motive. It’s our money, are we not allowed to ask about what the school is doing with it? What motive is it you think we might have? Please stay on subject and don’t hide behind your “board meeting” where we can not debate with you. By not answering our questions you are hiding from answering in pubic don’t you think?
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 25, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Anyone who has read your posts understands your motivation. I will not discuss hypotheticals or items that will be debated by the Board on Tuesday. You refuse to identify yourself and attack the system and process as a way to not address the real issues. And now you pretend you have not made personal attacks. I identify myself openly and conduct my business at publically noticed meetings. I invite you to attend our meeting on Tuesday, June 26th at 7 pm. Come out of the shadows.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 25, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Now you are rewriting the bill of rights? Please provide the Bill of Right that allows you to hide who you are? I know the first amendment allows you to mislead and misstate facts and clearly nobody has prevented you from doing just that. The First Amendment also protects my right to respond and ask questions or is your basic premise that only people who hide behind animity are protected by the 1st Amendment? Intereting take on our founding fathers and the principles they established.
Tom Culp June 25, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I deleted my post by accident so Ill repost below. BTW Mr. Goldberg I didn’t rewrite anything, its called cut and paste. The “Supreme Court” has recognized the Internet offers a new and powerful democratic forum in which anyone with a voice can resonate farther than it could from any soapbox. That’s why I find this blog to be much more viable for both of us. I never said you can’t ask questions, but as a board present you have a responsibility to answer for your actions. The fact that you won’t answer has turned this blog into dumbest pissing fight I have ever been in. “Of course everyone understands my motivation. Obviously You don't understand otherwise you wouldn’t be trying to violate my First Amendment rights even after I asked you to stop. Allow me spell this out for you.” "Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect individuals from retaliation .
Tom Culp June 25, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Im just going let you have the last word on this one. This has become a waste of my time So Im going to sign off and you need to prepare for Tusday. I hope to hear somehing possitve.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD June 25, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Why not post as anonymous instead of making up a name? Nobody has stopped you from posting but your argument trying to chastise me for questioning and responding seems at odds with your free speech stance. I believe if you feel you have to hide something that is an indication that you might be doing something wrong. You began this dialouge by claiming you identified yourself and now you are claiming it is your free speech right to not identify yourself. I think we all get your position. I still hope you will participate in the democratic process and air your grievances at our public board meeting this Tuesday at 7 pm.
Tom Culp June 28, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Laurie Lande, will you be doing a follow up on this like the Beverly Hills Weekly did today?
Marie Cunningham (Editor) June 28, 2012 at 12:35 PM
The follow-up went live at 5am Thursday :)

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