October 15, 2021
link to facebook link to twitter

Public hearings held for school district

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
January 24, 2020

Jan. 21, 2020 was a busy night for the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District (CRPUSD). The Board regularly meets on the third Tuesday of every month at the Educational Center, 7165 Burton Ave. in Rohnert Park. Tonight was no exception. The regular meeting convened at 5 p.m., however, the board went into closed session to discuss a half dozen confidential student matters, a case of anticipated potential litigation and a potential public employee disciplinary procedure. They reconvened to open session at 6:08 p.m. with Board President Leffler Brown reporting that staff was given direction, but no other action was taken during the closed session.

Required Public Hearings due to the change of how Board Trustees are to be elected were then conducted. As you may recall, the board passed Resolution 1920-10 during a special public session on Dec. 19, 2019. This initiated a process whereby future board elections starting in 2020 will be changed from “at-large” to “by-trustee” elections. Several steps are required. These include obtaining a waiver from the State Board of Education and holding at least five public hearings. Two public hearings must be before maps can be drawn. The final three will consider draft and final election maps for adoption by the board. The first public pre-map hearing was held Jan. 14, 2020. A presentation was delivered to the board however no public input was received. 

Tonight, was the second required pre-map public hearing. A similar presentation was given to the public and the board. Board questions were answered. Again, no public comments were received. The next public hearing will be held Feb. 18, 2020 to review the initial draft maps being prepared by demographer Andrew Cittaphong of Cooperative Strategies. Another public hearing was then held to discuss a request for a General Waiver to the State Board of Education which is required to change the Trustee election process. Again, no public input was received. After this hearing was closed, the board voted 5-0 on Resolution 1920-13 which approved sending this waiver request to the State Board.

The board then returned to the next agenda item. This was a presentation by Dr. Louis Ganzler, Principal of Rancho Cotate High School who proposed naming the newly constructed Theater Arts Gymnasium (TAG) building. He suggested after input from a few community members and school staff that the board consider naming this school building after a recently deceased former teacher – Jim Pitt. Pitt was a beloved Rancho Cotate teacher who taught for decades, a dedicated proponent for the bond measures passed to help build this building and he was responsible in the 1980’s for establishing the high schools’ Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club. The board thanked Dr. Ganzler for his suggestion but wanted to follow regular process to allow more community participation and open the process to other possible naming nominations. 

A dozen items on the consent agenda were approved by a vote of 5-0. These items ranged from approval of previous minutes to approval or ratification of contracts. One item discussed separately as requested by Trustee Gillies was the contract for advertising services in the local newspaper. During the discussion she said that “I’m not against doing it, but I’m opposed to doing it now”. Her preference is for the board to consider this contract in conjunction with a marketing plan to be discussed at a future Board Study Session. This contract was not approved at this meeting.

The remainder of the meeting covered various fiscal and planning items. Included was acceptance on a 5-0 vote the Audit Report for the year ending June 30, 2019. The auditor presented his audit stating the district had a “clean audit with no material weaknesses”. The board also passed on votes of 5-0, Resolution 1920-11, an annual report accounting for developer fees in the Capital Facilities Fund; and, Resolution 1920-12, an authorization to adopt changes in the By-Laws for the district’s reinsurance group. 

Other reports included Assistant Superintendent Julie Synyard’s update on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) which is beginning development for the next school year and Chief Business Official Robert Marical’s monthly updates on fiscal status and enrollment. Finally, the board approved the special study session meeting calendar for 2020. The next special study session will be Feb. 4, 2020. The agenda for that meeting will be posted on the district’s website. Superintendent Watenpaugh also gave his report highlighting that Technology High School landed spot 851 out of 5,000 high schools across the country in a Newsweek list of Top Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) High Schools in 2020. The meeting adjourned at 7:58 p.m.