Letters to the editor

On the disinformation talk

EDITOR: Rollie, thanks for the great Zoom presentation with Neil and Lowell. Great to have such substantive speakers on the history and future of journalism in this age of unfiltered news as well as manipulated news. A breath of fresh air to hear both the worries and the possibilities. Kudos for bringing these two voices to us and we all look forward to more.

Jeffrey Boal

Sebastopol


Table consolidation discussion

Dear WSCUHSD Superintendent and Board Members, 

I am writing this letter to respectfully request that you table the decision to consolidate the West Sonoma County High Schools until you have completed your due diligence in a manner consistent with the State of California Department of Education “Closing a School Best Practices Guide”, https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/fa/sf/schoolclose.asp 

The readily available published information provided to the El Molino, Analy and Laguna communities, to date, significantly lacks the information, processes and data necessary to assure the final decision will be broadly supported by the respective Communities. According to the State Guide, “The decision to close a school must be based upon hard, empirical evidence that leads to a broadly supported, incontrovertible conclusion-the district cannot afford to keep a particular school(s) open without cuts elsewhere (budget, staffing, etc.).” It is clear by viewing recent Zoom meetings and following social and news media that there is absolutely no broadly supported incontrovertible conclusion, proposal or process yet developed that would warrant a vote to consolidate our high schools. 

The El Molino, Analy and Laguna communities have invested years of effort as well as millions of tax dollars and thousands of donation dollars to create the best facilities, learning environment and high school experience for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. For these reasons they deserve to be involved from the incipient phase through the final decision regarding the consolidation and/or closure(s) of any of their respective High Schools. 

The State Guide states ”It is a legislative intent, but not a mandate, for a district to have and use a District Advisory Committee (DAC) before decisions are made about school closure (Education Code Section 17387).  But whether an intent or a mandate, the advice is good. The job of the superintendent and board members is to evaluate facts, not gather them. And the process of gathering the facts must be as credible, transparent and non-political as possible.” 

It appears that all fact gathering to date has been conducted by the district staff under the direction of the district board without this critical community involvement and participation.  It appears that establishing an expanded DAC would be of significant value and add credibility to this process. 

If the West Sonoma County Union High School District wishes to follow state mandates and the California Education Code, it is essential to take a step back at this point. The District should allow the seating of the new Board Members and start the process, from the beginning, of implementing the State of California Department of Education “Closing a School Best Practices Guide”.  This will assure the final decision has the best chance of being broadly supported by the respective Communities.  In order to assure the additional support, guidance and time necessary to implement the State Guide the District should work closely with the Sonoma County Office of Education, California Department of Education and Senator Mike McGuire’s Office.

 Sunoma and Dan Northern

Forestville

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