Board Members

Roger Collins (President)

Mary Cowen Baker

Dina Fazio

Noelani Price

Joshua Kitchens

Agenda and Minutes

(All previous year past minutes are archived in the school office.)

Topics Being Discussed for Public Input:

Monte Rio School Board Newsletter 16

Welcome to the Monte Rio newsletter number 16, for May 2019. As always, if you wish to be taken off the mailing list, please let me know.

Date change

The next meeting is MONDAY, MAY 20. It was moved from the usual date this last Thursday because of the Spring Fling. We apologize if this is an inconvenience. Also, in an effort to end the meetings earlier, we’ve moved the Closed Session to 5pm, but the regular meeting starts at 6pm as usual. If you wish to speak about any items on the closed agenda, you are welcome to come at 5 and talk about them, and then go have dinner or something while waiting for the open meeting at 6.

Note: The Board voted at the last meeting to CHANGE THE REGULAR DAY of the Board Meetings to be the third Monday of the month, and make the Closed Session be at 5, with open session at 6.

Welcome Josh Kitchens

At the last meeting we appointed Josh Kitchens to the Board to take the seat left vacant by Jesse Stern. Josh is a parent of students at the school, a member of Cal Fire AND a volunteer on the Monte Rio Fire Department. He has volunteered time at the school before and we think he’ll be a great addition to the Board.

Do you want to be on the MRUSD Board?

Our own Dino Fazio got flooded out of his home and has landed in Santa Rosa. As a result, he’ll leave our Board soon, perhaps as soon as the end of this month. We hate to see him go, but life often intervenes in our plans. What about YOUR plans? One way to volunteer at your school is to become a Board member. We meet once a month and guide school policy and the budget. To qualify, you must be registered to vote in the district and not be employed by the district, nor have a spouse employed by the district.

Why do I do it? I can’t do anything about the craziness in Washington except vote, but I can help to make sure our children go to a clean, safe, well-equipped school where there are heroes who teach them, buss them, feed them, clean up after them, and make sure the District stays solvent and the employees get paid. If that seems worthwhile to you, come join us!

If you are interested, contact me ( or the Superintendent and we can tell you more about it, answer questions, and hopefully get you to join the fun!

What happened at the last meeting?

Here are some highlights...

· Josh Kitchens joined the Board

· The Monte Rio School Foundation will donate $5,000 for a new sound system in the gym, and $2,900 for the Drama teacher so the District can cut that expense from the budget but Drama goes on.

· We approved a contract with Counterpoint Construction, to oversee Bond construction projects (and potentially non-Bond projects as well). They vet the contractors and help us insure we get quality work for a reasonable cost.

· We promoted Noel McCue to the Head Bus Driver position. She has been our driver for a while and it was time to recognize her work.

· Budget cuts approved:

o Reduce the District Clerk position by 5 days a year, in the Summer

o Reduce District Secretary by 1 hour per day (215-day year)

o Cut our tech support services in half

o Lay off the 1:1 classroom aide position, as the student no longer needs a 1:1 aide

· Budget cuts NOT approved or more discussion needed

o Reduce the CBO work year by 5 days was deferred for more discussion, as the workload will increase due to the Bond projects. It may be possible for the Bond to pay for specific times that the CBO only does accounting for the Bond, the district is investigating that

o Cut professional development day from the Teacher’s calendar. We decided NOT to do this, as this could affect student learning (teachers are less prepared for new requirements)

o Cut the drama teacher. The Monte Rio School Foundation will cover this cost, so the COST is cut from the budget (yay!) but the actual drama teacher is NOT cut (also yay!). Thank you to the MRSF (Mary Baker and other unseen heroes).

o Cut the music program by 6 days. The Board decided this will affect too many students and both Music and Drama are important subjects.

· We decided to move the REGULAR BOARD MEETING DATES to be the 3rd Monday of the month and to start with Closed Session at 5pm; Open Session will be at 6pm as usual.

· We discussed the proposed school calendar. Our calendar is mostly in line with the High School district so parents with students here and in the High School have the same vacations. The one difference was in the brand-new state-required ‘make up days’. The state is requiring us to include at least two days in the calendar to make up time for when the school is closed for unusual reasons, such as fires and floods (remember those?). If we close for more than two days we don’t necessarily have to make up the extra time, but we DO need to make up at-least those two days. What would this mean? Lets say we close for flooding for two days next year. Then school would STAY IN SESSION at the end of the year for two extra days (our ‘make up days’). The High School put their two days around Spring Break, but then they ALWAYS run two days into June, where we would only do that in case of closures.

o We did not approve the calendar because of an objection around employees getting a paycheck in June when they normally don’t, and how that can affect them. We tabled the discussion so that the Superintendent can discuss the matter with the union reps and work out a solution.

This month’s Meeting (Monday, May 20, at 6PM in the library)

· Note: the Agenda attached says the meeting is Monday, May 17, which is of course a minor typo. Hopefully this won’t throw anyone off.

· As mentioned above, the Closed Session will start at 5 so we can end the meetings earlier. Open session starts at 6 as usual. If you want to talk to us about the items in closed session, you can come at 5 and tell us your thoughts.

· As usual, there will be a ton of interesting information about what is going on around the school, both in the classroom and out, in the ‘oral communications’ section. These are informational pieces and not policy discussions (which would need to be specifically agendized), but help us all stay ‘in tune’ with what is going on around the school.

· We hope to be able to approve the school calendar, which was continued from last month (see the above discussion).

· We will honor former trustee Kris Thurman-Fein for her years of service to our Board and school. She not only was a long-term Board member, but she ran the Monte Rio School Foundation, giving scholarships to our students and donations for worthy projects.

· Sweetwater Springs tested our water and found no lead in it.

· Our insurance agency, RESIG, reviewed the campus for safety and we’ll hear their report

· District Clerk Terri Wendt will likely be hired as the District Secretary for next year, taking over from Marcia. We will need to hire a new Clerk

· The Teacher’s Union and the District have worked out a bargaining agreement for this current year and next year and it is up for approval.

o Teachers get a 3% raise this year and 3% more next year

o We may cut back the counselor by 5 days from her work year

o Teachers with experience will get to keep up to 10 years experience when being hired here; prior to this it was just 5 years experience

· I believe we’re still in discussions with the non-teaching union (the Classified staff), but they have agreed to the 3% increase for this year, and we hope to ratify that

· The ‘confidential employees’ will get a 3% raise for this year. Confidential employees handle confidential information for the district, and are NOT represented by any union. For us, this is the school secretary and clerk

· The Superintendent will have his work year reduced by 5 days, as per our budget discussions

· The CBO will have her work year reduced by 5 days, as per our budget discussions

· We expect to approve the contract with Stars Preschool for next year.

· Bond contracts being awarded:

o The gym floor will be replaced

o The kitchen floor will be replaced

o Some kitchen equipment replacement (stove, water heater)

o Gym walls and new tables (that are attached to the walls and swing down, so the tables don’t get dragged across the brand new floor)

o The roof may or may not happen this summer depending on the bids, we’ll see

o Locks are being replaced so that doors can be locked from the inside (now you have to open the door and lock it from the outside). Welcome to the post-school-shootings world

· We will discuss giving the Superintendent a ‘dollar limit’ under which he can approve contracts, so that we don’t hold up smaller jobs until our once-a-month meetings.

· WE ARE STILL LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS FOR THE BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE. They will only meet a couple of times per year. You do NOT have to live in the district, nor have kids at the school. If you are interested, please let the Superintendent know.

If you can’t make it to the meeting, there will be minutes of what we’ve done, and we record the meetings so you can listen to our always-fascinating conversation! If you want more information about a specific topic, feel free to contact the Superintendent, another Board member, or me.

That's About It

I'll send a note next month about what happened at the meeting. Enjoy the warmer weather rain!

Note: California law (the 'Brown Act') doesn't allow me to discuss matters that may come before the Board with a majority of my fellow Board members, so I've tried to keep this strictly informational and not give you my opinions. You, of course, are free to discuss these issues at length with me or any other Board member! Our email addresses are on the school website.

Hope this has been helpful,

Roger Collins, Board President

School Bond 2018-2019

The school is currently seeking Bond Committee Members. Application paper copies are in the school office, and well as linked here.

Sonoma County Information: