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Another orientation, and swearing-in to come

December 4, 2018

Today (Dec. 4th, 2018) I had a scheduled orientation with several departments at the district office, from 8:30am to noon. First I sat down and listened to an introduction by the various union officials (Angie Avlonitis and Kim Morgan from the manager’s association, Ronnie Harrow from the psychologists association, Nancy Dunn from the teachers association, and Michael Minahen filling in to tell me about the support and clerical unions). There was little time for interaction, but I learned a few basics I hadn’t known. Next I listened to a slide show detailing the operations of the various business offices from Director of Fiscal Services Laneia Grindle. Next I received a slide show about the department of Administrative Services and Community Engagement by Executive Director Tim Goree. Then I sat down for a presentation on the Human Resources department by Assistant Superintendent Rob Martinez and Director Michael Minahen. Next I was shown a slide show about the educational services department, led by Assistant Superintendent Sheila McCabe and accompanied by Director of Secondary Education Kristen Witt, Director of Elementary Education Cindy Brown, Director of Student Services Angie Avlonitis, Director of Special Education Dorothy Rothenbaum, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Melissa Farrar, and Director of English Learners and Instructional Support Howard Kornblum. Lastly, I met with Superintendent Kris Corey and talked about several subjects, including Thursday night’s board meeting agenda, the budget process, and interaction between board members and the superintendent.

Talk about a whirlwind tour! I want to sit down and further digest the information that was given me. (As well as paper versions of these slideshows, I was given links to online versions of them), so I can begin to get a sense of who does what in the district. I realize my job is not to be involved in any of these details, but if I can get familiar enough with them, I will be able, as part of the entire board, to make good decisions on behalf of the community.

I sat down and studied this week’s meeting agenda last night, and realized I am overwhelmed at the thought of voting on the 35 items (by my count) on the agenda, as well as receiving all of the information reports (hundreds of pages of information – here’s a link to the agenda start page, which has links to all of the sub reports). I’m starting to realize this job has a large number of “rubber stamp” functions, which rely on the expertise of the employees. The agenda and meeting system allows the board to raise a red flag at any point or pull an item for more explanation or even debate and input from the community, but most of the business is simply approving the recommended actions. There are occasionally items that require public input, and we are the voice of the community when we vote (after receiving input and comments from the community at large) but there aren’t many of those. (But when they arise, they’ll be intense, as I’ve noticed as a community member myself – things like budget cuts or other controversial subjects.)

Luckily I’ve got a bit of a reprieve from the responsibility of voting: I won’t be sworn in until Monday night (Dec. 10, 2018) at the fall dinner meeting of the Solano County School Boards Association, to be held at Solano College, so I’ll just be an audience observer at Thursday’s regular semi-monthly board meeting. My first votes will probably be at the January meeting.

#meetings #reflections

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