Santa Rosa City Schools is considering pursuing a bond measure or parcel tax to offset deep cuts from Sacramento in recent years. The school board on Wednesday night discussed what remains in outstanding principal from voter-supported bonds dating back to 1991 and whether local voters would support another round of either taxes or bond repayments.
During my campaign for the Santa Rosa school board, I was surprised at how many people said that they don’t follow local education and don’t vote in school board races because they don’t have school-age children.
The issues motivating the five candidates vying for the Santa Rosa school board range from making smart budget choices to expanding pre-school education to fostering stronger ties between local schools and their surrounding neighborhoods.
Only a fraction of school board seats up for election this fall will be contested as most races have just enough contenders to fill the vacancies. There is competition for seats in just six districts, including Santa Rosa, as well as for two seats on the Sonoma County Board of Education. And nine districts could have board vacancies because not enough people filed paperwork to join the board. Sonoma County’s largest school district, Santa Rosa City Schools, has five contenders for four seats.
Santa Rosa City Schools has tapped Santa Clara educator Socorro Shiels as the district’s new superintendent. Shiels, who turns 41 Thursday, currently is assistant superintendent of educational services in the Morgan Hill Unified School District, located south of San Jose and a little more than half the size of the Santa Rosa district. She replaces Sharon Liddell, whose resignation is effective June 30, ending nine years with the district.
Santa Rosa City Schools is still grappling with how to cut approximately $376,000 from its 2012-13 budget despite slashing the school year by six days and dropping the budget reserve from three percent to one percent. Cuts are expected to total $8.3 million from its $130 million budget when the board makes its final determination at the May 23 meeting.
A lawsuit filed Wednesday claims last month’s Santa Rosa school board decision to close Doyle Park Elementary School and replace it with a French-American charter school was illegal and discriminates against the school’s predominantly Latino students. The suit, filed in Sonoma County Superior Court by attorneys representing the Doyle Park Committee for Education Equity, asks for a restraining order to halt closure efforts and seeks to overturn the board’s decision.
The Santa Rosa school board is scheduled to meet in closed session Thursday to discuss the ongoing threat of litigation over its controversial vote to close Doyle Park Elementary School to make way for a French-American charter school. The latest challenge came late last week when a Santa Rosa attorney said that board members violated open meetings requirements under the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law.
Santa Rosa school board trustee Tad Wakefield had no conflict of interest when he cast the deciding vote on March 16 that resulted in the closure of Doyle Park Elementary School, according to an independent legal opinion released Friday. The six-page opinion echoes the assessment of the school board’s own legal counsel, and concludes that Wakefield did not violate conflict of interest laws or policies when he voted to close the Doyle Park campus to make way for the French American Charter School.