Discover more from Sebastopol Times
New WSCUHSD school board installed
Julie Aiello elected President; Debbie Ramirez Vice President.
Four trustees for the West Sonoma County Union High School District board were sworn in during their December meeting on Wednesday: new trustees Debbie Ramirez, Lewis Buchner and Shawn Chernila, along with longtime trustee Jeanne Fernandes, who ran unopposed. They join the fifth trustee, Julie Aiello, who has served two year of a four-year term. The actual swearing-in had taken place on Monday but the oath of office ceremony was repeated during this public meeting in front of 25 people or so.
The election of board officers took place with the following results:
President - Julie Aiello
Vice President - Debbie Ramirez
Clerk - Lewis Buchner
There was some jostling among the five board members to see which of the new or incumbent trustees would be put forward as officers. The apparent compromise with Julie Aiello as President and Debbie Ramirez as Vice President would “mix experience with new blood,” said Lewis Buchner.
When the board meeting schedule for 2023 was presented for approval, Debbie Ramirez suggested that every other board meeting be held on the El Molino campus to make it easier for people outside of Sebastopol to attend the meetings. There was some discussion about the logistics, cost and staff impact on such a move. “There is a need for the board to focus on healing the rift between the Sebastopol core and the area outside that core,” said Buchner, adding that “we have to make ourselves more attractive to people outside the town.” He also thought it could help improve enrollment from those areas. The 2023 schedule was approved but the decision about using both location was deferred to the next meeting; by then they hope to have more information about the impacts of such a decision.
In public comment, Lily Smedshammer, the chair of the World Languages department (and Union President), pointed out that Analy only offered Spanish as a foreign language and she asked the board to consider adding American Sign Language.
On the agenda, under Education Services, the board approved new courses to be added for next Fall at Analy:
Several semester-long English courses for 11th and 12th graders:
Villainy in Literature
Race, Class & Gender in Modern American Literature
Food & Literature
Advanced Sports Medicine
AP Precalculus (replacing Honors Trig / Precalculus)
In addition, a new course in Professional Music emphasizing management skills for music careers was approved for Laguna High School.
Andrew Soliz, Chief Business Official for the District, presented the 2022-2023 First Interim Budget Report. The presentation deck can be found here as a PowerPoint deck and the full report is here as a PDF.
The good news is that District’s fund balance grew 8.7% this school year compared to last year with income of $33M exceeding expenditures of $31M. The bad news is what is projected in the third year of this three-year projection. Student enrollment for 2022-23, which was predicted to be 1665 (about the same as last year), was much lower, with 1,589 students enrolled in September. The District had been predicting enrollment using a formula that had 80% of 8th graders in West County coming to the high school; the ratio is now closer to 65%. In 2024-25, the enrollment is expected to drop down to 1,423. That reduction in the number of students along with ending of three-year averaging of ADA will produce a structural deficit.
Julie Aiello, who ran her first meeting as President, excitedly made the motion to approve the contract for skylight replacement. That was approved along with a contract for a consultant to survey all doors and locks throughout the District in order for them to be replaced by a new system. Aiello exclaimed that she supported Analy becoming a “safe and drip-free” campus.
Earlier in the meeting, parent Angie Lewis was recognized for her volunteer work in the District. Then former trustee Kellie Noe, who served for 16 years, was thanked for her service. She was 28 when she was first elected. Her two daughters and husband were in the audience.
One year ago, Noe and Fernandes in The Press Democrat made: “A Plea for Unity.” They wrote about the effects of consolidation, the threat of a recall and a lawsuit against the board’s decision. They hoped West County community would come together “to support our students,” which is something the new board must hope for as well.
Sebastopol Times is a reader-supported publication without advertising. To support our work, consider becoming a paid subscriber.