Superintendent Toni Beal of the West Sonoma County Union High School District issued a weekly community update on April 20. She is doing this as requested by the board of trustees at their last regular meeting. Introducing the update, she said “Joining our comprehensive high schools together… requires a lot of work in order to be done thoughtfully.” Further, “The community is understandably nervous that this might have a negative impact on students.” Therefore, “we created this weekly update to keep our community informed about the work we are doing to make this change positive and our work transparent.” This week’s update addressed the Unity Committee, a Bell Schedule Committee, a Transportation Update, as well as NCAA, UC/CSU Eligibility, and New School Model Grant topics.
The Unity Committee was formed in February prior to the vote to unify schools. It is comprised of three different focus groups. They are a Student Group, a Staff Group and a Community Group. The student group is working on ideas for a new mascot, name and colors for the new consolidated high school. There are sixteen students, two from each grade level and from both the Analy and El Molino campuses. They are identifying two options to be submitted to the board for consideration at the April 28 meeting. The bell schedule group is processing results of a staff survey asking for input into needs and questions to be answered. Based on that feedback they are tasked with developing solutions and action items to be addressed. Finally, the community group is touring each campus to identify artifacts, traditions, and rituals that should be preserved to reflect the history of both Analy and El Molino high schools.
The bell schedule committee also has been meeting since February. It’s composed of staff from both high schools. They are developing three options for the board to consider that will allow for a start time of 8:30 a.m. in alignment with Ed Code requirements. They are also offering options for some elective courses to be conducted at the El Molino campus. They will review feedback from school staff and students on the three options, make modifications and then survey parents and students on those options.
On the transportation front, they are investigating options for next year. The goal is to provide “Home to School” transportation on the same routes currently offered for El Molino students; a shuttle service for Forestville students to and from the El Molino campus to the Analy campus, shuttle service for students desiring to take an elective class at the El Molino campus, and additional bus routes for students participating in after school activities.
Beal reported they have confirmed with the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) that current El Molino students are still NCAA eligible for the remainder of this school year and that all students will be NCAA “eligible next year under the name of the new school.” She said, “We have also confirmed with the UC Registrar that there will not be any issues with transcripts and University of California and California State University college applications due to the merger of the two comprehensive high schools.” Finally, the district has received a grant through the CTE Foundation to develop college and career pathways for students. Staff will work together next year to plan the new school model to ensure access for all students.
The district remains divided as a Forestville group has raised funds to take legal actions to slow down or stop the consolidation of Analy and El Molino into a new comprehensive school. This group calls themselves “The Community Alliance for Responsible Education (CARE).” According to a press release sent to the Sonoma West Times & News on Thursday afternoon April 22, the group has filed a lawsuit against the West Sonoma County Union High School District with the Sonoma County Superior Court over the board’s March 10 vote to consolidate. According to public speakers at the last board meeting, they’ve also started recall procedures for at least three of the five board members.