The West Sonoma County Union High School District board will host a regular meeting Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. over Zoom. The meeting agenda can be viewed here.
The board will deliberate and possibly take action on consolidating El Molino, Analy and Laguna high schools onto one campus, according to the agenda.
Isom Advisors will present the findings of a swift local survey on the parcel tax, which the board will discuss in relation to the potential consolidation, the agenda said. The board will consider placing a parcel tax measure on a 2021 ballot that could serve as bridge-funding for the district to provide more time for community input on the decision of consolidating schools.
This meeting comes after over a month of board meetings and town halls to discuss consolidating to treat its structural deficit historically stanched with one-time funds.
Superintendent Toni Beal and Chief Business Official Jeff Ogston said during previous presentations that the Sonoma County Office of Education requires the district to provide a Fiscal Recovery Plan demonstrating how WSCUHSD will make up $2 million in reductions or revenue by the 2022-2023 school year.
Ongoing budget challenges and declining enrollment have led the district to contemplate some of its last resorts, as programs disappear from the schedule without enough students to fund staffing, Beal presented in meetings past.
Administrators, board trustees, and community members alike have said the district’s battered budget and the possibility of consolidating have been in conversation for many years. Meanwhile, others expressed frustration around not being informed of the issues sooner and that the developments seemed rushed and lacking in transparency and community involvement.
Some parents voiced concern that consolidating will let students fall through the cracks if they benefit from smaller school environments or travel long distances from the coast for their education. Others said delaying what they viewed as inevitable would hurt students and teachers further through program cuts.
Beal said at the Nov. 4 meeting that teachers and staff need to be notified of potential layoffs by mid-March of 2021 if the board proceeds without a set plan to address the projected $2 million shortfall in the 2022-2023 year.
In addition, Beal and the District Director of Special Education will present a Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervention Services (CCEIS) Plan for board discussion and approval to address root causes of disproportionate representation in special education.
The California Department of Education (CDE) found WSCUHSD to have significantly disproportionate representation in two areas of special education, with an inordinate number of Caucasian students in Special Education attending non-public schools, according to the agenda item.
Moreover, a disproportionate number of Hispanic students are classified as Intellectually Disabled while a disproportionate number of Caucasian students are identified as Emotionally Disturbed, the agenda said.
The upcoming meeting will also include reports from student board representatives, trustees, the superintendent and others. The agenda said the board will consider for approval a monthly personnel report from Mia Del Prete, director of human resources, and the district’s initial proposal for contract negotiations with the West Sonoma County Teachers’ Association for the 2020-2021 year.
Furthermore, the agenda lists upcoming important dates such as the following board meeting Dec. 9, when the district’s first interim report is presented to the board.
Beal said at the Nov. 4 meeting that Dec. 9 is when Ogston will need to deliver the first interim report with the board’s plans to address the $2 million deficit predicted to hit in the 2022-23 school year. It is due to SCOE on Dec. 15. The agenda also states the reorganization of the board will occur Dec. 16, when newly elected trustees take the oath of office.
Edit: A previous version of this article stated that the first interim report needed to be to SCOE on Dec. 9. The report is due to be presented to the school board on Dec. 9 and to SCOE on Dec. 15.