WSCUHSD board to meet in-person with packed agenda

By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, August 18, 2021

The West County High School theater may be a full house by pandemic restriction standards Wednesday, Aug. 18 for the West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) board’s first meeting back in person again. This link leads to the full agenda.

The main open session starts at 6 p.m. to cover a long list of topics, including updates to independent study and graduation requirements policies at 6950 Analy Ave., Sebastopol. People can participate in person and virtually and there are specific rules for both options.

Beforehand, there will be a brief 5 p.m. open session for public comment before the closed session scheduled for 5:05 p.m. for conferences between Superintendent Toni Beal and labor negotiators of West Sonoma County Teachers Association (WSCTA) and legal counsel regarding CARE v. WSCUHSD.

Board to consider approving independent study updates in policy and regulation

Trustees will consider updates to the board policy and administrative regulation regarding the independent study program, which school districts must offer for the 2021-22 school year as an option for enrolled students, the agenda said.

Students learning through independent study will need to take part in “weekly synchronous instruction and attend a conference prior to enrolling in the program, per the agenda.”

Trustees to consider filling board vacancy by appointment or special election

Laurie Fadave has stepped down from her role as trustee, putting forward her resignation on July 27 with the county superintendent, Steve Herrington.

Earlier, district community members launched a campaign to recall Fadave, Board President Kellie Noe and Vice President Jeanne Fernandes for voting for the plan involving Analy and El Molino high school’s potential consolidation, now a reality.

The board can fill her seat through either a provisional appointment or a special election within 60 days, per board policy and the law, the agenda said. Trustees will discuss the choice before them at the Aug. 18 meeting and may also give direction to Superintendent Toni Beal on what to do next.

“Based on this decision, at the September regular meeting, within the 60-day timeframe, the Board will either make a provisional appointment or formally order a special election,” according to the agenda.

The special election path:

  • The soonest a special election could happen is spring in 2022, “based on the timing of the vacancy,” the agenda said.
  • This is because the election would be due at the next election date set in Elections Code § 1000, “that is at least 130 days after the election is ordered.”
  • The provisional appointment path:
  • The board of trustees would issue a call for candidate applications and nominations in local media outlets.
  • Candidates would be screened for eligibility to be on the board by a committee short of board quorum, and the qualifying applicants’ names would be released.
  • Trustees would interview those running for the seat at a public meeting taking written and spoken public feedback.
  • A board majority would determine who to appoint as the trustee.

Updates to graduation requirements policy up for approval

Superintendent Toni Beal recommends offering a variance in graduation credit requirements to seniors who took a hit from the 2020-21 school circumstances for another year, the agenda report said. Ultimately, she or another designated person will have the last say on approval of the variances.

The report said the move would line the district up with Assembly Bill 104 that orders “school agencies exempt all students who were in the 11th and 12th grade during the 2020-21 school year and not on track to graduate in four years, from any and all local graduation requirements in excess of the statewide requirements specified in Education Code § 51225.3.”

An update to “Board Policy 6146.1 High School Graduation Requirements” will come before the trustees to consider approving. That school year rocked by the pandemic, the board voted to let eligible seniors seek graduation credit requirement variances. Administrators took in recommendations for waivers passed on to Beal for approval, the report said.

Board to take up 45-day district budget update, per the final state budget

Trustees are slated to decide whether to approve the 45-day revisions to the 2021-22 district budget, according to the state’s final budget, the agenda said.

Once the governor signs the State Budget Act, school districts have 45 days to provide to the public what changes were made in their adopted budget’s revenue and expenses to demonstrate “the change in funding by the State Budget Act,” according to Education Code § 42127, the agenda said.

New info about a CSI grant has been factored into the district budget, detailed in provided narrative and financial summary documents of how the adopted budget has been adjusted. However, more information about the funding from the state budget lawmakers adopted on June 28 hasn’t come out yet, although the narrative document describes the shifts to the state budget.

The shifts ultimately mean the unappropriated ending fund balance is up from $134,354 to $166,378, per the agenda, which stated the district has $14,197 more in its expected general fund ending balance. “Because the final budget included the 5.07% ‘mega-COLA,’ that reserve is no longer needed,” the agenda report said.

Finally, the trustees will also consider approving a legal contract with Orbach Huff & Henderson, the district’s legal advisors since 2017 coming with a new agreement now that they are no longer going by Orbach Huff Suarez & Henderson.

And all the rest

After reports from associations, principals, trustees and the superintendent, the board will also be discussing, viewing and/or approving the following items.

In terms of education:

  • a presentation from West County Health Services on what services they’ll provide at the district’s schools, having come together in the past year to get students and their families health care access
  • a first reading of the California School Boards Association (CSBA)’s recommended updates to board policies and administrative regulations in regard to shifting state law and education code
  • On the business side of things, what’s up for board approval are:
  • the monthly update on this year’s budget
  • the spring release of consolidated application (ConApp) for funding in the 2021-22 year, wherein WSCUHSD applied for programs under Title 1 Part A, Title II Part A, Title III and Title IV Part A
  • public disclosure on the memorandum of understanding for WSCTA, per Assembly Bill 1200.
  • the actuarial study for post-employment benefit costs
  • Regarding human resources, the board may approve:
  • the monthly personnel report
  • auxiliary salary schedule changes, since district administrators were made aware “for the need to increase the daily rate for substitute teachers in order to be competitive across the country,” the agenda said.
  • a certificated salary schedule change, since the 2021-22 schedule had been adjusted so West County High School and Laguna High School certificated teachers would receive an annual stipend.

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

All attendees showing up in-person need to wear a mask and provide either proof they’ve been fully vaccinated or that they tested negative with a PCR COVID test “no less than 72 hours prior to the scheduled meeting.”

People can watch the meeting streamed on the district’s Youtube channel. To comment virtually, folks will need to send their input to Karen Lamb at by 4:30 p.m. on Wed., Aug. 18 at the latest, to be read aloud during the public comment period at the meeting. The agenda adds the district will not be able to take comments online.

The agenda lists some ground rules for in-person public comment.

  • Attendees will need to fill out a speaker card to give the board their remarks, which are restricted to three minutes.
  • 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 person has one turn for each item to comment to the board, agendized or not.
  • 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 request commenters stick to the agenda item and, “once warned,” ask them to return to their seat or have the microphone muted if the person keeps going “off-topic,” according to board bylaws, the agenda said.

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