KUSD appoints interim superintendent

By Grace Harrison
Kern Valley Sun

On April 9, 2019, the Kernville Union School District (KUSD) held their regular monthly board meeting at the Woodrow Wallace Elementary School Cafeteria.

Shortly before the regular meeting began, a special board meeting was held to appoint Kern County Superintendent of Schools District Advisor Gary Bray as Interim Superintendent in place of Robin Shive.

Topics discussed at the regular board meeting include the recognition of school employees, the reassignment of personnel, the purchase of much needed school supplies and the approval of student field trips.

The meeting began with the recognition of school employee Bert Landry, the driver of the school bus involved in a recent incident in which students were sprayed with coolant due to a heating system failure. Landry was quick to action resulting in only one student suffering from minor injuries. Annie Pinion, the 2019-2020 District Teacher of the Year was also recognized. Pinion will be honored at a county award ceremony in Bakersfield on May 7. The district will also hold a coffee and cake reception on May 8 to honor Pinion locally.

Much discussion took place regarding the reassignment of Brian Polston, the current Wallace Elementary Principal. Recommendation was submitted to reassign Polston as the principal of Wallace Middle School. KUSD Board President Lucian Whitman strongly urged board members to schedule a special meeting with a closed session to debate the subject at hand due to the fact that it involved a staff member. “I don’t think we’ve had the opportunity to discuss this and because this is a discussion bound to an employee, I wonder whether that discussion should happen as a closed session, special meeting,” he explained.

Because the task was on the agenda, board member Wendy Russ believed that the board needed to come to a decision at that meeting. “It’s on the agenda. It’s on the agenda because our incoming superintendent (Steven Martinez) is okay with this. There have been discussions with Robin (Shive) and Steve so, that’s why it’s on the agenda,” she stated. Russ also reminded the board that a new principal would need to be hired at one campus either way.

“I think that the middle school has unique needs. I think that we should deeply consider the leadership of the middle school. I don’t think we should hamper our elementary school for that purpose,” said Board Member Allison Bogart, who was not in favor of reassigning Polston. “I think there are excellent middle school principals who, perhaps, are applying to this job. If we don’t at least consider that then I just feel like we’re willy-nilly moving people around and, we seem to do that a lot here. We move people around. Instead, how about we let them get deeply good at their jobs. How about that? How about we let them be great?”

In the end, the board voted three to two to approve the reassignment of Brian Polston from Wallace Elementary School Principal to Wallace Middle School Principal. Board Members Whitman, Russ and Gene Parks Jr. were in favor of the reassignment while Bogart and Diane Moss voted against it.

An overnight leadership conference for Wallace Middle School’s Associated Student Body (ASB) was approved by the board. During July the ASB class will attend a California Association of Leaders Conference at University of California, Santa Barbara. A California Junior Scholarship Federation (CJSF) overnight field trip that took place in March was ratified by the board due to the field trip never receiving approval in the first place. At this field trip, which took place in Livingston, students attended a CJSF conference and toured University of California, Merced. During this field trip, Students TJ Sanders and Kasey Lassen were awarded the Huhn Award Scholarship for CJSF.

At the end of the meeting, the recommendation to approve a purchase of almost $12,000 worth of desks and chairs for two middle school classrooms alarmed some members of the board. Both the desks and chairs are reinforced by metal and have gradually been introduced to Wallace classrooms throughout prior school years. “As an advocate for teaching, innovative learning spaces, collaborative learning and for switching your furniture around easily to meet instructional strategy, I just want to make certain that this is truly the furniture that the teachers have chosen,” Bogart explained. After receiving affirmation from attending middle school teachers, the board voted unanimously to approve the purchase.

The next regular KUSD Board Meeting will be held on May 14, 2019, at 5 p.m. at the Kernville Elementary Campus.