The Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District held a board meeting Tuesday June 8. The meeting was again in person at Rancho Cotate High School. You could also view it on the district’s YouTube Channel. The meeting was mostly routine as the district closes out one year and begins preparing for the next school year.
Leading off was the introduction of John Bartolome. He is taking over the Chief Business Official position from retiring Robert Marical starting in July. Next was a PowerPoint salute to Community Volunteers for each school site recognizing their contributions to their schools even in this most difficult Covid-19 Distance Learning environment.
Following that, Jonathan Salt from the District’s legal firm provided the board a refresher and update on the steps following the release of the 2020 Census Data on By-Trustee Area Election. Based on that data, the election districts may need to be adjusted. The data won’t be available until this fall, and the new district election areas, if any, will be required to be in place by March 1, 2022. According to Salt, he was “just placing it on your radar for the fall.” The process this time will not be as difficult as before, nor as costly. Only a single public hearing will be required. If maps must be adjusted, two map options will be presented. The cost to the district is estimated between 3-5 thousand dollars just to look at the Census Data. If election area maps are required for adjustments, then an extra 7-14 thousand dollars in cost is estimated.
Dr. LuzElena Perez, Assistant Superintendent, presented the board an overview of the planned Virtual Academy (VA) for next school year. The purpose of this VA is to answer the question “How do we educate and service students who want to continue with virtual learning.” Reasons for doing so vary but include lack of vaccinations for younger children and that some children thrive in the online/home learning environment.
State legislation is still pending so she expects more details in the July/August timeframe from them, but the district wanted to be ready and ahead of the curve. A design team was formed and they’ve been meeting since February 2021. This included a Parent Task Force as well as fourteen teachers. Tonight, the board approved the Instructional Model and Curriculum. This allows Perez to start marketing efforts. She plans four weeks of enrollment between June 14 and July 16 with the VA opening on August 17 as does the in person learning next year.
Three new job descriptions were also approved. They were for an Assistant Director of Student and Family Wellness, a Curriculum Specialist II and a Director of Technology Services. Trustee Mark Nelson voted against the Assistant Director description because he had concerns that more needs to be done at site level for mental health and this was a district level position. For Curriculum Specialist position they envision two – one for English/Language Arts and another for Math. For the Technology Services Director, that will be a fleet up for the current Supervisor of Technology Services. The change brings the district in-line with other comparable school districts in the area and recognizes the increased challenges and work loads caused by the increased use of technology used by staff and students.
A slew of resolutions were then approved by 5-0 votes of the board. Many were typical end of year actions such as authorization to make transfers between fund balances as the district closes out the financial books for the year. One wasn’t routine. This was the authorization for the district to borrow, if necessary, up to four-million dollars from the Sonoma County Office of Education at no interest. This is typically done when cash flow issues arise, usually in the summer months. Other routine resolutions included who could sign on behalf of the Board of Trustees, and limits for the purpose of granting or denying an Inter-District Transfer Request. Of note, a resolution committing the district to bringing students back to In-Person Learning by the first day of the next school year was joyfully passed by the board. Trustee Michelle Wing’s vote was 100 percent Yes!
Marical presented his monthly fiscal update for planning purposes. This included an increase of three students for enrollment compared to this time last year. Four students departed while seven students enrolled. Three of the four departing students moved out of county. Of the seven arriving, two came from out of state, two from out of the county and two from within Sonoma County. Marical also presented the preliminary budget for 2021-22. He currently projects a deficit of $521,000 in 2021-22, $400,000 in 2022-23, and a surplus of $227,000 in 2023-24. Those numbers are subject to change as the budget gets finalized. The reserves, a 3 percent required minimum, remain in good shape hovering around 5% percent for each of the three years projected. The final budget will be presented to the board at their June 22 meeting for approval. Also, to be approved on June 22 is the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). The preliminary plan was presented to the board tonight.