District honors two outgoing board members
Mel Soletti, a substitute administrator, presented the plaques at the Wednesday, Nov. 19, school board meeting. Henry Bietz, the district’s superintendent, was at home recovering from pneumonia.
With Bietz absent, the board voted to table two action items until the December meeting. They were the adoption of resolution 08-03 Gann Limit Appropriations and the approval of closing the Community Day School Programs.
A third action item to join with other school districts in partnership with the Lassen County Office of Education for oversight of its 403(b) tax deferred annuity program was passed after much discussion. Lynn Uchida, the district’s business manager, explained on Jan. 1 employers would be responsible for oversight of these programs which are available to employees.
If Westwood did not partner with the county, it would have to hire a third party administrator to do the task.
Uchida also gave an update on the work the State Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team has begun. At a special meeting held Nov. 3, the board voted to use this team to revise the proposed budget and multi-year projection and develop a recovery plan. She said Ronda Eller-Vogus, a financial consultant hired by the district to close the books from last year, was unable to do so. She had found several programs in which there were over expenditures. Uchida said FCMAT would complete this task.
According to Uchida, FCMAT had been to the district office to gather contracts, leases, reports and other paperwork from which to determine its recommendations. She was not sure when FCMAT would finish its work but in the meantime the district was operating without a budget.
During the time set aside for public comment community members addressed two issues of concern.
Lynn Haas said running for a seat on the school board was an act of volunteer service and there should be no expectation of perks. The fact the school board members voted to receive health care benefits at a cost of $67,832 per year was self-serving. She added for board members to continue to receive insurance benefits during a fiscal crisis showed a lack of integrity.
Dawn Curtis discussed the difficulty she was having trying to get information from teachers about the work her eighth-grade son was doing in school. Although he was getting good grades, the work she had managed to review seemed below the grade he was receiving.
Another parent, Scott Kelly, agreed. He added his son only had about two hours of homework a week.
School board members advised the parents to document the details of their complaints in writing. They carry more weight if written, said Cox.
Jacque Cordova, the district’s art instructor, said if the community wants better schools they need to ask and do it in writing. They must keep demanding it, she added.
Soletti said it was always a good idea for parents to take their complaints directly to teachers first before submitting concerns in writing to the school board.
The discussion between board members and the community was lively at times and focused on accountability of staff and the administrators who provide oversight.
At the close of the meeting, the honor band trip to Chico State the weekend of Nov. 22 was uncertain due to chaperone issues. Although Michael Bergin, band instructor, had submitted the names of two female and two male chaperones to share rooms with the students on the overnight trip, the board was unfamiliar with one person on the list. They left instructions that a male parent of one of the participating students needed to chaperone or the trip would be canceled.
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