Lack of applicants for school board vacancy
So far, there are no takers for the vacancy on the Sonoma Valley Unified School District board.
As of Thursday morning, no one had applied to occupy the seat vacated by Cam Hawing earlier this month. Several people have called the district to inquire, but no one has filed a formal application.
Hawing, who was the trustee from the El Verano attendance area, resigned, after spending the past seven years on the board, so that his wife, Kathleen Hawing, could apply for a vice principal’s position at Sonoma Valley High School.
An informational meeting was set for Thursday afternoon, after the Index-Tribune went to press. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30. The board will interview prospective replacements in open session at its Sept. 11 meeting.
At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, the board did away with most of the four-question application form that applicants would have had to fill out.
“I read the questionnaire and I’m not sure I would answer question 2,” said Boardmember Helen Marsh. The question asked candidates to “Identify the most significant issues confronting public education, in general, and the Sonoma Valley Unified School District, in particular, and state your position on each. Further, please discuss the ways you feel the district should respond to these issues.”
Marsh also didn’t cotton to a question asking what are the major responsibilities of a board member.
“Nobody knows how to be a school board member until you get on the board,” Marsh said. “And even then, it probably takes two years to understand.”
She suggested applicants just submit a letter of intent, and keep the specific questions for the interview.
“We could give candidates the questions in advance,” she said.
Board President Gary DeSmet agreed, saying that the question was too extensive. “We want to make it a lot less intimidating,” he said. And Dan Gustafson agreed.
So the district is going to scrap most of the proposed questionnaire.
Applicants have to be registered voters over the age of 18, and must live in the El Verano attendance area.
In other business, Deputy Superintendent Justin Frese told the board that the only solar panels that aren’t now supplying power, are the ones at the district office on Railroad Avenue. Those panels are being re-installed after the mounts were shortened.
“All the sites are making electricity,” Frese said. “It’s fun to see negative electricity bills.”
Frese said the district isn’t yet getting the rebates from PG&E and won’t until all of the panels have been tested and are generating electricity.
In a memo to the board, Frese said, “At this point, the monitoring system is being debugged. Once it is up and running, the system will generate reports that will be sent to PG&E and the district will begin to receive incentive checks.”
Over the course of the five-year rebate plan, the district expects to receive a little more than $3.72 million – or about $744,000 a year from PG&E.
The board also approved a resolution supporting Proposition 30, the Support Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act that is on the Nov. 6, general election ballot.
The proposition, while not putting any new money into the state’s beleaguered education system, will prevent further cuts to education funding. If the measure, which was proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, fails, schools would be in for an additional $8 billion in cuts. That would translate to an additional $450 less for each student, or somewhere north of $1.7 million for the Sonoma schools.
“Since 2008, the state has lost 40,000 teaching jobs,” said school Superintendent Louann Carlomagno. “Locally, we’ve made more than $5 million in cuts.”
Marsh said the impact on the state’s economy is huge, with all the teacher and other public employee layoffs.
“Bankruptcy attorneys are bracing for a second wave of public employees filing for bankruptcy because of furlough days and layoffs,” she said.
Teacher’s union president Bob Gossett said he was happy to see the district taking a stand, since California ranks 47th out of the 50 states in per-pupil spending.
The measure needs only a simple majority to pass.