KUSD gets ready for Christmas

By Elise Modrovich
Special to the Sun

Photo by Elise Modrovich / Special to the Sun:
Wallace students perform at KUSD’s board meeting.

The Kernville Union School District held their final meeting of 2017 to wrap up calendar year-end matters and discuss issues ongoing in the current school year. All board members were present, including Lucian Whitman, Alison Bogart, George Stahl, Wendy Russ and President Greg Davis, as well as Superintendent Robin Shive and Lissa Robinson representing the administration. Board meeting and agenda item highlights included Christmas songs by both Wallace Pre-School and Middle School, a wrap-up of the Kindergarten Complex and Prop 39 projects, electing board officers and meetings, a discussion of AB 10, the status of proposed bus stop signage in Havilah, and a review of the first interim report certification.

After quickly reviewing their closed session results and General Functions, a joyous presentation of Christmas songs was performed by the Wallace Pre-School children under the watchful eyes of Director Verlona Tate, with gentle encouragement from teachers Lisa Lowrey and Kathy Liske. Then, Director Tiffany Edge guided the Wallace Middle School Glee Club through own Christmas song collection, including a buoyant “Let It Snow,” a gorgeous rendition of “Silent Night,” and wrapping up with “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” complete with choreography and candy canes passed out to the appreciative audience.

The board then turned to the business at hand, electing Greg Davis to another term as President, Lucian Whitman as Clerk and Alison Bogart as Trustee Representative, a position entitling her to act as a regional representative for the board. The board elected to continue their 2018 meetings on the second Tuesday of every month at the new earlier time of 5:00 p.m. at Wallace Elementary, with the May meeting to be held at the Kernville Elementary school site. Two meetings will be held in June so that the board can go dark in July.

The board reviewed the financial status of Woodrow Wallace (WWE) and Kernville Elementary (KVE) as well as Wallace Middle (WMS) schools, and Superintendent Shive noted that the November enrollment showed a stellar ADA of 94.03 percent for WWE, 94.87 percent for KVE and 95.06 percent for WMS. Superintendent Shive then gave recognition to parent volunteer Dana Goss for “volunteering her time, money and talent so that students can have more,” including the Colt Card program and Camp Keep for over 12 years, and teacher Stacy Sanders for her commitment to events such as the Turkey Trot, Red Ribbon Week, saying “she just makes middle school fun, motivating the kids to want to come to school.” WMS Principal Jill Shaw informed the board about the success of the recent Oral Language Festival, where she also acted as a judge, stating, “It brought back good memories. I was really glad to see it come back.”

In her superintendent report, Shive noted that the district office will be closed December 25 and 26, as well as January 1, 2018. Shive then stated the Staff Christmas Party would be on Wednesday, December 20, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., before going over the schedule for the Elementary School Christmas Programs. The Kernville Elementary program is slated for Thursday, December 21, at 6:00 p.m. Wallace Elementary Grades K-3 scheduled for Friday, December 22, from 8-10:30 a.m., and grades 4-5 on Wednesday, December 20, at 6:00 p.m. The Hope After School Christmas Program is set for Thursday, December 21, at 4:00 p.m. As the final item in her report, Shive went over the logistics involved in implementing the recently passed State Assembly Bill 10 regarding the placement of free and available personal hygiene supplies for students. As of January 1, 2018, the schools are required to have bathroom dispensers fully operational, and the current KUSD plan is to place token-operated dispensers throughout, but requiring students to obtain tokens as needed from the administrative office in order to maintain inventory control.

MOT Nikolle Evans informed the board that the Kindergarten Complex project is complete, with the exception of the erosion plan. There was a slight holdup over concern about possible future campus expansion, but after consulting with Luis Vargas it was decided the current plan could be implemented immediately and should be finished in the next month. Evans then reported they are in the final phase of implementing the Prop 39 funds, with all exterior lighting and final HVAC units being delivered and installed between Christmas break and early next year. “We are looking at mid-January to be completely done with our original plan for Prop 39,” Evans stated.

Evans updated the board on the status of parents’ recently reported concern about speeding problems and a demand for more signage through the school bus stop area in Havilah. Evans stated that this is an issue that falls under the jurisdiction of the CHP and the County Roads Department, and although she had made several attempts, neither agency was willing to do anything about it, causing understandable upset with the parents affected. “They say it’s an enforcement issue, not a signage issue,” Evans said, adding, “I fought and fought and fought, but they won’t budge.” Bogart understood the parent’s frustration. “She’s a concerned parent. These are her kids. I don’t understand why they won’t just put up a simple bus stop sign.” Evans responded that the department “wouldn’t even consider putting up a ‘School Bus Stop: 100 yards’ sign.” Russ suggested the parents call the CHP and ask that they stake out the spot to help slow traffic. “If it’s an enforcement issue, then they need to enforce it,” Russ stated. Davis suggested the parents get together with other local residents, start a petition and take it to Supervisor Mick Gleason. “He oversees County Roads, so he’s the one who can direct them to take action,” said Davis.

In personnel matters, the board reluctantly approved the retirement of Kathy Dwyer at the end of the school year, with board member Bogart opposing. “I want it on the record that I refuse to let her retire,” she said wistfully. The board then approved new employee hires, revised salary schedules and amended job descriptions.

Things turned to Business and Finance, and Shive congratulated Robinson for her “fantastic job” with the Annual Audit Report. It was the first time in the collective board’s memory that there were “no findings” with the report. “It was a team effort,” smiled Robinson, who then turned her attention to the 2017-2018 First Interim Report Certification, which outlines expected and projected revenues and financial obligations for the fiscal year. Expected revenues included LCFF, LCAP, Federal and State funds, which had gone up marginally. Local revenues had increased significantly thanks to Brian Polston’s fundraising efforts for the Leader In Me program. However, Robinson cautioned that expenditures had also increased for books, supplies, operations and capital outlay, and especially salaries and benefits. As Robinson laid out the multi-year projections for 2018-19 and 2019-20, she said that the salaries and benefits caused a big budgetary concern going forward. “Staffing is generally 90 percent of the budget, and STRS and PERS is tripling from 2013 to 2023, exceeding our revenue streams,” said Robinson. “We need to be aware it’s coming, increasing yearly, and we will need to tighten our belts and budget accordingly.”

While still on the subject of budget, the board was asked to approve a $5,282 quote from AmeriGas for compliance repairs to the propane tanks at all KUSD campuses. “The inspectors are supposed to come every five years, but the last time they made it out here was in 2008,” said Shive. “Regulations have changed, and the tanks need to be brought up to par,” said Evans. Whitman asked why another quote had not been obtained. “We tried, but AmeriGas was the only one who said they had the necessary equipment and could do the work in the time allotted,” said Shive, adding, “The state gave us only 30 days to bring it into compliance. We had to file an extension as it is. We had no choice. If we don’t get it done by the end of the year, they will shut us down.” Evans confirmed, saying, “Because of the danger involved in draining the tanks, setting aside the oil, burning the residual, fumes and everything, we have to do it while the kids are out of school over Christmas break.” The board reluctantly approved the expenditure, with the exception of a “nay” vote from Whitman, who wanted to pursue a competing bid for the work.

All agenda items completed, the board was allotted time to share comments and items of interest. Bogart requested “to have more kids present at our meetings. It reminds us what this is all about. Bring on the kids!” Stahl praised the kids for an “excellent program,” especially the Glee Club’s “beautiful rendition of Silent Night,” expressing how impressed he was with the students, teachers and parents showing respect for the performers. He also commended the Family Resource Center for their continued good work and congratulated Robinson on her “phenomenal job with the audit report. We are very lucky to have you guiding us through the money part.” Russ said “ditto” for Robinson’s efforts, and thanked Sherry Lanza for “getting those grants.” Finally, Davis reiterated everyone else’s sentiments and “thanks to all for doing what you do.”

After a relatively quick but agenda-packed meeting, Stahl motioned to adjourn the meeting at 7:30 p.m., Whitman seconded, and the KUSD Board adjourned for calendar year 2017.

Next month’s meeting with the KUSD Board will be held in the Wallace Elementary School Auditorium on Tuesday, January 9, 2017, at the new time of 5:00 p.m., with closed session commencing after.