WSCUHSD board to host regular meeting at former El Molino campus

By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, October 13, 2021

The upcoming West Sonoma County Union High School District board meeting takes up multiple items that not only tell where the district has been but set some of the conditions of its near future.

The regular meeting is Oct. 13 starting at 6 p.m. in the library of the former El Molino High School campus in Forestville this time. The meeting agenda and Zoom link are available here and all in attendance must wear masks to protect against COVID-19.

Second, potentially last pre-map public hearing for feedback on trustee voting areas
First on the agenda is the second public hearing for community input on how the possible trustee voting areas could be configured when the district shifts from its at-large election system to a by-trustee system, intended to protect the ability of protected classes to influence an election and to avoid any legal action regarding the California Voting Rights Act.

According to attorney Jonathan Salt from Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP at the Sept. 14 board meeting, this is the last public hearing scheduled so far for feedback on what neighborhoods, roadways, creeks and more should be in the same voting areas before the district’s demographer steps in.

The district demographer can then take that community input to inform how they will draft the voting area plans. Per the agenda, this by-trustee system would start with the Nov. 8, 2022 general election if the Sonoma County Committee on School District Organization approves.

Wherever the current trustees live, they’ll still be able to complete their full elected terms anyway, the agenda report said.

Much ado about money

Not far down the agenda, Superintendent Toni Beal is scheduled to present the district’s ESSER III Expenditure Plan and seek the board’s approval on how to spend the $1,084,812 received in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

WSCUHSD needs to show its plan to put those monies to “address students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, as well as any opportunity gaps that existed before, and were worsened by, the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report said.

The district can also involve community feedback and planning documents like the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) “provided that the input and actions are relevant to the LEA’s Plan to support students.”

Further details are available in the agenda about how the spending plan intends to put $73,857 to “strategies for continuous and safe in-person learning,” $298,451 for “addressing lost instructional time,” with 712,504 marked as “use of any remaining funds.”

Later, the board is slated to receive a report from the Chief Business Official Andrew Soliz on the costs regarding the special election sending the Measure A special parcel tax to voters back in March, 2020, which failed. The district paid $117,607.09 for the election and the report states that although Chair Lynda Hopkins of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors “promised to help fund the election costs,” she “has not assisted the District in recouping costs,” according to the agenda report. The trustees may give direction going forward from there.

More fallout to review includes a report toward the beginning of the meeting on enrollment and interdistrict transfers for the 2021-22 school year as of this fall. The report said the past decade has demonstrated a consistent countywide drop in enrollment, according to the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE).

Even though district enrollment is greater this fall than expected, more students are transferring out and fewer are transferring in this school year, the report stated. There are 1,649 students enrolled at WSCUHSD instead of the 1,589 students anticipated,

There are 440 interdistrict transfer students coming to the district this school year, 30 students less than last year and part of an overall decrease in past years in primarily new ninth graders. Meanwhile, 51 students sought to exit the district, 25 more than last school year, “due to an increase in the number of students who would have attended El Molino transferring to other public schools in the county,” per the report.

More to attend for

The consent calendar includes contracts up for approval, including one with Herff Jones for $55,698.80, one with SCOE for $37,500 and another with Xerox for $17,949.36.

Further, the board is scheduled to consider approving updates to WSCUHSD’s COVID-19 Safety Plan to continue in alignment with recommendations and guidelines from the California Department of Public Health and the Sonoma County Public Health Department. The trustees are to discuss where the Nov. 10 board meeting will take place.

Also, the board will discuss the facilities master plan with input from “district staff and consultants Quattrocchi Kwok Architects on the next steps for master planning for future facility improvements across the district,” the report said. Next comes a discussion about the district wide roofing master plan with staff and those from Strata AP Inc. consultants.

The agenda states district staff seek approval to contract with Prime65 for $48,367.66 to put Uninterruptible Power Supply systems in place for the district, to be paid with Measure A bond funds and constructed during winter break this school year.

The Oct. 13 meeting is slated to host a public hearing on WSCUHSD’s starting proposal for 2021-22 contract negotiations with West Sonoma County Teachers Association (WSCTA), to bargain on transfers, vacancies and employee leaves. This is followed by trustees deciding whether to approve the district’s initial proposal and then whether to accept the openers of the union’s initial proposal for contract negotiations with the district for this year.

Other matters at the upcoming meeting include a first reading of the California School Boards Association’s (CSBA) recommended updates to board policies and administrative regulations and possible approval of the monthly district budget update and the monthly personnel report.

How to participate in the board meeting virtually or in-person

Some ground rules for virtual and in-person public comment:

● Virtual attendees need to send their comments to Karen Lamb by 4:00 p.m. the same day as the meeting, to be read aloud for public comment at the meeting.

● Attendees will need to fill out a speaker card to give the board their remarks. Participants are to wait for the board president’s acknowledgment, then head to the podium and “introduce themselves for the record before addressing the board.”

● Each individual speaker is restricted to three minutes of input per item they are commenting on. Each person has one turn to speak to the board on each item, agendized or not. In other words, an attendee can comment on multiple different items but only once per item.

● Only 15 minutes will be allowed for groups discussing the same topic during public input.

● The board won’t comment on items not on the agenda, but trustees have “the right to clarify or correct any misinformation stated.”

● The board president can increase or drop the amount of time for public comment, “depending on the topic and the number of persons wishing to be heard,” if the trustees allow it.

● The board president can check how many speakers support or oppose an issue and request others only give input “if they have something new to add.”

● The board president can request commenters stick to the current agenda item and, “once warned and the speaker continues off-topic, the board president reserves the right to ask them to be seated, or have their microphone muted,” according to board bylaws, the agenda said.

● The district won’t be able to receive other comments made online.

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