The school board held their September 15 meeting online again. About three dozen folks viewed the YouTube live broadcast. The two-hour meeting included a presentation about efforts to ensure “Student Social and Emotional Well Being.” Many fiscally related issues were also presented and discussed.
The meetings started with bond related topics. Paul Pham, an auditor, led off with his report on the audits of the 2014 (Measure B) and 2016 (Measure C) bond issues. Key point was that he found no deficiencies or exceptions in his audit. He said the district is doing a good job of managing bond funds; it was a “nice clean audit.” The board accepted his audit report for the period ending June 30, 2019. He was followed by Shari Lorenz. Her report was from the Citizens Oversight Bond Committee. This committee met a couple of times to review all bond money expenditures. They found that all expenditures followed required guidelines.
Next was the “Student Social and Emotional Well Being” topic. Director of Students Services, Matt Marshall, led a team presentation on what the district was doing, especially during this time of distance learning, to provide support and resources for students and their families. It was in-depth and had an extensive PowerPoint presentation with lots of information. Hopefully, it will be posted on the district website. Marshall highlighted a Mental Health link that is available on the website. This and other information have been posted on Facebook and was emailed to all families in English and Spanish. Other resource links for Health and Wellness are also on the website. Marshall said they are working on a monthly webinar on these topics. The first one is planned for September 29 with a topic of “Self-Care.”
There were too many programs covered to discuss in this article, but one stood out to me. It is an application provided to secondary students in the district called “STOP!T.” This is a nationwide program with a goal to give students access to a caring adult anonymously to seek support for themselves or others. Marshall gave an example of how it works using the subject of bullying. A student could report an incident, such as social media bullying. Although anonymous, the system allows an administrator to follow up with them. They then could intervene as required. Twenty-three reports were received on a variety of issues during the first two weeks of this school year. Marshall credited the past use of this application for potentially saving two lives from students who were considering suicide within the district. Another program. in partnership with Rohnert Park and Cotati police departments, are wellness checks on students and their families when school administrators are unable to reach them by phone or email.
Three items were discussed under the “Educational Services” portion of the meeting. Dr. Julie Synyard, Assistant Superintendent, requested a waiver of Community Service Graduation Requirements for the 2020-21 school year. During distance learning and shelter in place, it would be difficult for students to meet those requirements. The board approved the waiver. A routine resolution determining sufficiency of instruction materials was also approved. This simply means the district is certifying they have sufficient print and on-line resources to support the curriculum and students. Finally, an additional $14,000 was approved for additions to educational services contracts.
Chief Business Official Robert Marical presented his monthly fiscal update and planning report. He also presented the 2019-20 Unaudited Actuals Financial Report. That report is basically closing out the books from the 2019-2020 school year as of June 30. Instead of estimates of revenues and expenses, it’s the accounting for what was spent or received. The good news is the district realized $803,045 gain which goes to support the reserve fund. Almost $649,000 of that is unrestricted and can be used in the general fund. But on a 69-million-dollar annual budget, it represents just 1 percent of the budget. And although it helps, it won’t close the anticipated budget deficit projections for 21-22 or 22-23 budgets. His office, working with the budget committee, will be meeting to look for additional actions to deal with those issues. He also discussed that funding from the state, although not cut, has been deferred. That means the state in dealing with its own budget problems and is pushing their contributions to school districts out to next year. That will cause many districts to have severe cash shortages this year. That will require them to find options to borrow to avoid cash flow problems. Marical will present more complete data at the October board meeting.