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Letters to the Editor, Oct. 3 - 5

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em

EDITOR: A message to the City of Sonoma: I wanted to check in with you and let you know that there are still no “no smoking” signs in the Plaza. We went to Vintage Festival this weekend and were discouraged to see people lighting up and smoking on the Plaza, yet again. With no signs, how are people visiting our town supposed to know we have a no-smoking policy in our park? It has almost been a year since the City of Sonoma voted to pass this ordinance, how can a sign take that long to be made and hung? We were at the Whole Foods market today, and they have ample “no smoking” signs posted on their brown posts throughout the marketplace. I feel as though this is in fact not a priority of the City... are you scared tourists won’t spend their dollars on wine if they can’t smoke freely in the Plaza? There has to be a balance between the people who live here and are trying to raise kids with tourism, and right now I really feel like tourism is winning.

Please let me know when the signs are expected to be in place. The last I heard from anyone was on July 20.

Amy Seyms

Sonoma

School District needs budget lessons

EDITOR: I feel the need to set the record straight about what the Index-Tribune reported in last week’s article (“School District Back to Basic Aid,” Sept. 26).

The I-T reported that the school district ended the fiscal year (2016-17) with a surplus of $3 million, and that the district spent what it budgeted. Here are the facts:

• The districted ended the fiscal year with a deficit of $2.3 million, which was $2 million less than projected due to unanticipated revenues from the state.

• The district covered its shortfall from reserves accumulated in previous years.

• Reserves have fallen from $5.3 million to $3.3 million.

• The district originally budgeted expenses of $49 million but ended up spending $52 million, in other words $3 million in cost overruns.

• This is the third consecutive year the district has been in deficit-spending mode.

• The district has been using reserves to fund recurring expenses, which the Sonoma County Office of Education warns could undermine fiscal solvency

If you would like to see the budget report presented at the last board meeting, you can watch it on YouTube. Fast forward to approximately 18:15. Board commentary follows at 20:43. Public comment starts at 31:08.

I think the public deserves to know the truth about the fiscal mismanagement of the school district.

Anne Ching

Sonoma

Principal Hawing responds to rumors

EDITOR: Last week, a rumor started on the high school campus and quickly moved to social media declaring that the high school administration had restricted the use of the American flag on campus and that the wearing of the patriotic red, white, and blue was not acceptable.

This is not an accurate accounting of what transpired. I am writing to reassure the Sonoma community there has never been an issue regarding the display of the American flag or the right of students or staff to express their support and respect for it. As it happened, just last Friday the school had arranged for voter registration to take place on campus so students of voting age would have ready access to that process.

At Sonoma Valley High School and across the District American flags are in every classroom, gyms, and fly daily on school flagpoles. We are proud of those displays and what they affirm.

As with many issues across the county, social media and miscommunication can turn a misunderstanding into a confrontation.

With this issue now before us at Sonoma Valley High School, regardless of the impetus behind its beginning, we will be moving forward immediately to engage students and staff in mindful, open conversations not only about the use of the flag as an emblem of patriotism, but also about how in these emotional and often polarizing times we need to be sensitive to attitudes, views, and sentiments that may lead to the inappropriate use of the flag.

The student population at Sonoma Valley High School clearly reflects the diversity within our community. This diversity has long been a strength of our school and I fully expect that providing staff and students opportunities to think through and talk about what led to such a quick disconnect, will help us to better communicate about such issues in the future before miscommunication overtakes opportunities to clarify and affirm.

Finally, this issue offers a valuable opportunity for staff and students. Ultimately, I believe this experience will lead to deeper understanding and acceptance for our entire school community.

Kathleen Hawing, principal

Sonoma Valley High School

Mammogram memorandom

EDITOR: Great news about the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation money to purchase a new 3D mammography unit. The sad news is it will be placed in the hospital and the Women’s Center will be closed. The SVH board and Kelly Mather made the decision without discussing it with the women in our community. You will no longer have easy parking or a feeling of privacy when going for your mammograms.

The hospital announced they now have a female OB/GYN and a breast surgeon. These doctors will not be available every day because they have offices elsewhere.

The Perkins facility was never used by the hospital as much as it could have done. There is space there for a doctor’s office and exam room. Perfect for a part-time OB/GYN and still be able to have the use of a mammography unit.

All this hasn’t happened yet. The Perkins rental is up the first of the year. If you object going to the hospital for you mammogram speak up now.

Carolyn Stone

Sonoma