s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe
You've read 3 of 10 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month!
Already a subscriber?
You've read 6 of 10 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month!
Already a subscriber?
You've read all of your free articles this month.
Continue reading with unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month!
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you.
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month, and support community journalism!
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for reading! Why not subscribe?
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month, and support community journalism!
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Subscribe today!
For just $5.25 per month, you can keep reading SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile, and support community journalism!
Already a subscriber?

New Sonoma Valley Unified School District board president undaunted

X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

Britta Johnson balances the demands of serving as a SVUSD board trustee with her long-time, full-time job as a sales rep with the Harward-based Laboratory Equipment Company.

The Sonoma Valley Unified School District’s agenda for the coming year looks rather daunting – cut $2 million from the budget now and maybe another $1 million later and hire a permanent district superintendent.

And it’s only January.

But Britta Johnson, who was elected school board president in December, isn’t ruffled.

“We’ve got to put the district on good, secure financial footing,” Johnson said. “And I think we’ve got the right people in place.”

Interim Superintendent Chuck Young – former longtime chancellor at the University of California Los Angeles – balanced the budget every year he was at UCLA, and the district recently hired Petaluma resident Bruce Abbott as associate superintendent of business services.

The board, which got a look at the proposed cuts last week, will have to make $2 million in cuts at its next meeting on Jan. 16.

“This will be the first step in ensuring the long-term (financial) health of the district,” Johnson said.

She was appointed to the board in March 2015 when Helen Marsh stepped down, and ran unopposed in 2016.

While she’s been on the board less than three years, her connection with the district goes back more than a decade.

In 2013, she was a co-creator – with Megan Kaplan and Laura Stanfield – and project manager of the district’s IChoose campaign that features banners with SVHS grads and included a billboard, newspaper ads, school brochures and public service shorts at the local cinema; was creator, co-chair and project manager of the Love Our Libraries project in 2005 and 2006 which raised funds to keep the district’s libraries open during a budget cutback; planned and executed the website redesign for Sonoma Valley High in 2010, and did the same for Altimira and Adele Harrison middle schools in 2012. And from 2001 to 2012, she was the creator and chair of Prestwood Direct, the elementary school’s fundraising campaign.

“The IChoose campaign was about finding success through more than one pathway,” she said. “It put faces out into the community. These are great kids from great families and its finding success in our schools.”

She is a strong proponent of public education.

“I believe in public schools,” she said. “They’re the fabric of our community.”

As the district gets its budget woes straightened out, it’ll also be looking for a superintendent. According to the timetable, the district could hire a superintendent late this spring and have the new hire start the first of July.

“We have great people who will help attract a superintendent,” she said. “I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t want to work here.”

The board hired Leadership Associates, a search firm it used in 2008.

“They put together a great proposal,” Johnson said. “But if we don’t find someone we like, we won’t make an offer.”

She’s impressed with the main recruiter, Rich Thome, who is a native Spanish speaker. “We want to make sure we’re thoughtful in getting input from the Latino community.”

The firm will go out and recruit and look for someone who isn’t necessarily in the job market. Over the course of the search, the firm will meet with the board, district staff and stakeholders.

“And there’s going to be a survey on the district website in both English and Spanish,” she added.

Britta Johnson balances the demands of serving as a SVUSD board trustee with her long-time, full-time job as a sales rep with the Harward-based Laboratory Equipment Company.

Over the past few months, not only has the district hired Abbott as assistant superintendent of business services, but also hired Karen Strong as assistant superintendent for instructional services.

“We’re getting new ideas from Karen Strong,” Johnson said. “She’s putting together our new LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan), which is the district’s road map.”

Johnson had praise for other district programs including the new math curriculum for K-5 students; the College and Career Center, which she calls “invaluable”; the Engineering and Agriculture Pathways; and AVID, which starts in the middle schools.

“And,” she said, “the support of the Education Foundation is crucial.”

“We have dedicated teachers,” she said. “We have to take care and support our teachers and staff.”

Nobody said being a school board member is an easy job. “I’m still learning,” she said. “But this is our community – and these are our schools.”

Email Bill at bill.hoban@sonomanews.com.