SFUSD anticipates Field of Dreams

The South Fork Union School District Board Meeting was called to order at 6:06 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12, in the cafeteria of the Kelso Valley campus.

The meeting began with the approval of both the Consent Calendar and Communication and Correspondence. Members of the board were pleased to see that the school’s attendance rate is currently at 98 percent.

The MOT Report was given by Bob Shive, in which he updated the board that they recently received the South Fork Prop 39 resolution, which consists of the construction and reporting agreements with IES for the “Field of Dreams” project. It will be presented at the next board meeting in November. The paperwork is currently being reviewed by the school’s legal facilitator to make sure everything is in order.

While on topic of the “Field of Dreams” project, where South Fork School is intending to build proper playing fields and track for the students and South Lake area residents’ recreational use, Board Member Eric Hafenfeld addressed the board to see if there is anything that the community or school could do to help progress the project while they wait for all the paperwork to go through. Shive suggested that earth work can take place, stating that grading and moving dirt from the upper lot of the school needs to be done, as well as clearing the area around the well at the school and putting up a retaining wall so that they can build closer to it. Shive and Hafenfeld discussed getting a grading permit from the county so that they can get started. There was further discussion on the planning and major costs of the project, where Hafenfeld volunteered his time and equipment if that would help get the process started and further expounded upon the need and beneficial effects of more recreational facilities on the school and surrounding areas. Board member Karrie Bunting also expressed her interest in the proposed softball and baseball fields in the project, stating that other board members and community members were also excited about the proposed facilities in a closer location.

Board President Dale Creighton also added to the conversation by suggesting that individuals who wish to volunteer time or materials to the “Field of Dreams” project get together to discuss what is needed and how everyone can participate in moving the project forward. School Superintendent Kim Villani stated that a meeting would be set up soon.

Jake Rudnick delivered the report on the After School Program where 55 students are enrolled. He also stated that the Frontier Transportation Grant, which funds the transport of students from the After School Program to home in the evening, is doing great and has gained interest from more families. New supplies have been ordered and there are some STEM Legos, that have mechanical and computer components, on the way. Rudnick also described the adjustments the After School Program has gone through over the past several weeks as Rudnick took on a more administrative role. It has been difficult on him and the children to not interact everyday, but he visits when he can. Rudnick also mentioned that the passing of Pastor Mike Splawn has greatly affected some of the students, and that they are working with them during this difficult time.

Sherry Nichols, the Board Clerk, discussed the financials of the South Fork School and Community Foundation Report. The Foundation is purchasing new signage for the gym and the savings account shows a balance of over $27,000. Nichols also stated that a teacher requested some assistance for students that may be in need of warm clothes as the cold weather moves in. She also mentioned that an order of 29 bricks was made for their “That’s My Brick” fundraising campaign. According to their Foundation Facebook page, donations made to the campaign go toward the “Field of Dreams” project and contributors get an engraved brick that is installed on the South Fork School campus.

Villani delivered the School Site Council Report, in which she mentioned that there will be a meeting held on Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. in the Fay Ranch Campus Cafeteria to discuss the recent safety training and updates to the school’s safety plan.

Rudnick also gave the Staff Report, discussing the upcoming events and activities such as the Book Fair, Annual Fall Festival on the first Friday in November, Red Ribbon Week, Camp KEEP for the fifth and sixth graders, dress-up days are planned every Friday and the fourth grade has Biography Day coming up as well.

In the Superintendent Report, Villani announced that the county approved the exemption from required expenditures for the classroom teachers’ salaries pursuant to Education Code 41372 for South Fork School because the district met or exceeded the necessary requirements. It is believed that the school did not qualify for exemption last year due to reporting errors, but Villani stated that the issues have been resolved. She also mentioned that even though it will be more difficult to qualify for exemption with each passing year, the district is working through it.

Villani also stated that the school is currently looking to fill the cafeteria position left vacant by the retirement of Beth Gagnon, and they intend to start interviewing possible candidates next week. She also announced there will be a Retirement Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 9, for Gagnon at the Kelso Campus, where she requested milk and cookies to be shared with the students.

Villani also stated that the district will have their annual audit next Thursday, Oct. 26. She also mentioned that the district is working closely with the Superintendent of Schools to update the school’s information with the California Department of Education, specifically the local indicators, which will help develop their Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) for next year.

When the Board started to discuss the Business and Finance section of the agenda, Clerk Nichols expressed gratitude to the district representatives for meeting their goals in securing funds from other resources such as Prop 39.

The recommendation for the district to assume financial business responsibility of the Kern Valley Aquatics Program (KVAP) from the South Fork School and Community Foundation was discussed, however, Nichols proposed that the Foundation could still take on the administration cost of the program, as to not overwhelm the district office during the transition. Due to a conflict of interest, board members Karrie Bunting and Sherri Nichols abstained from voting on the formal action on the districts recommendation, which was approved by the remaining board members.

When the Superintendent Evaluation Tool and Procedure portion of the agenda came up, Board Member Daures Stephens expressed concern on the effectiveness of having board members, who are not always involved in the day-to-day functions of the school, fill out the form since they were unable to give appropriate answers. Superintendent Villani stated that this is just one example of the evaluation tool and that the board is welcome to explore other options that could better fit their needs. She also mentioned that the evaluation isn’t actually collected until Spring quarter, but the district wanted to give it to the board early so that they could better prepare themselves and put more thought into their responses.

All remaining actions on the agenda were approved with little discussion and the meeting was adjourned at 7 p.m.

The next South Fork Union School District Board meeting will take place on Thursday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m. in the Kelso Campus Cafeteria.