The Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District held their first in-person board meeting in over a year on Tuesday May 18. It was held in the Rancho Cotate High School Theater, Arts and Gymnasium (TAG) building. COVID-19 safety precautions were followed. There were four dozen attendees present. It lasted just over 90 minutes. As is typical for a board meeting this time of year, many of the agenda items were routine. Before the open session, they met in closed session to discuss appointing a Chief Business Official. Robert Marical, the current CBO, is retiring. However, Board President Chrissa Gillies reported no action was taken in closed session.
The first half of the open session was dedicated to recognizing district retirees and student board members. Seven teachers with over 169 years of experience are retiring. Victor Boyd, a custodian with 27 years of service also retired. Administrators from Evergreen, John Reed, Hahn Elementary schools, Rancho Cotate High School, and the district office introduced the retirees. They provided an overview of their careers with the district, then presented each with a plaque and a bouquet of flowers. Reagan Shacklett-Mueller from Rancho Cotate and Addison Pickrell from Technology High were also thanked for being student representatives this year.
After a few more routine reports, Assistant Superintendent Dr. LuzElenz Perez facilitated the discussion on the upcoming summer school. This will be for all three levels: elementary, middle school and high school. The programs are being funded by the Extended Learning Opportunity Grant. It is design for learning loss mitigation and credit recovery due to COVID-19 through the State’s Senate Bill 86. These funds remain available until August 2022, so this year and next summer will see summer school programs.
The dates this year are from June 7 through June 25. The high school program will be in two sessions. One from 9-11 a.m. and the other from 12-2 p.m. School counselors will identify students who need credit recovery or the benefits of this extended learning. It will be held at Rancho Cotate High School. The middle school program will be at Technology Middle School and will be weeklong camps. They’ll serve at least 120 students; perhaps up to 180 students if sufficient staff is available. The camp themes are a STEM Camp, a VAPA Camp and a Nature Camp. STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. VAPA is Visual and Performance Arts. The Nature Camp will be outdoor, interactive and project based. Students from Lawrence Jones, Technology Middle and Thomas Page grades 6-8 will be invited to participate.
Up to 300 students will participate in the elementary program from all the district’s elementary sites. It’ll be held at John Reed Elementary from 8:30 until 12:10. In partnership with the YMCA, before session services starting at 7 a.m. and after session services running until 6 p.m. will be available. The programs include STEM, Social Studies, Language Arts and Social-Emotional Literacy. For ELA (English Language Arts) students, the focus will be on language development, writing and supplemental math. After the presentation, the board voted to approve the Extended Learning Plan.
The board also approved the job description for a Director of Human Resources. While searching for a full-time director, they hired Loyal Carlon as the interim director through July 2021. Experienced in this role at other school districts, he will be compensated at a $640 daily rate with no benefit package. He will also lead the search team for a full-time director.
Marical then took center stage with fiscal matters. Resolution 2021-16 passed allowing the district to establish a Student Activity Special Revenue Fund (08). This brings the district into alignment with standard accounting practices, and California Department of Education guidance for funding Associated Student Body activities. The board also approved the purchase of Chromebooks and iPads out of Bond Funds. These purchases are to replace devices reaching the end of their useful life and part of the technology replacement plan.
Marical then presented his fiscal updates. There were substantial changes between last month and this month; however, that mostly represents salary increases for the Rohnert Park Cotati Educators Association contract passed at the last board meeting. He also discussed at length Governor Newsom’s May revision for the 2021-22 school year. Marical said the outlook is “much improved from last year.” A combination of ongoing and one time funding, the proposal if passed eliminates the 2021-2022 deferrals meaning the district doesn’t “have to deal with cash shortage.” The combined cost of living adjustment was also increased from 3.84 percent to 5.07 percent. The district is holding a budget workshop next week and will present budget figures at the June 8 meeting for adoption by the board at the June 22 meeting. The other good news was that enrollment was up by 20 students.