OAKHURST — Amidst the current budget crisis in which the Yosemite Unified School District is embroiled, some ray of hope emerges, even as a community meeting is scheduled to advance a recall of the entire beleaguered District’s Board of Trustees.
“There are two immediate opportunities available for community members to help the Yosemite Unified School District and the school community work together to solve the District’s financial crisis,” says parent and school volunteer Stacey Montalto.
Yosemite Unified School District (YUSD) is comprised of Coarsegold Elementary School, Rivergold Elementary School, a growing Educational Options program, and Yosemite High School. The current District Superintendent is Dr. Cecelia Lynn Greenberg, who was introduced to the community in mid-September of 2017.
According the District website, the Board of Trustees includes:
- Christine Wilder, Area 2, 2017 – 2020
- Tammy Loveland, Board President, Area 3, 2017 – 2020
- Monika Moulin, Area 5, 2014 – 2018
- John Reynolds, Area 1, 2014 – 2018
Area 4 is currently open, having been vacated by former Trustee Joe Smith, who resigned his term earlier this year, after originally being elected to serve until 2020. Smith will be replaced by an interim Trustee. Anyone interested in filling the position is urged to apply immediately. This is the first way in which residents can help.
The permanent replacement will be chosen during the regular elections in November 2018, and will serve through December 2020.
Applicants are required to live in Area 4, which is roughly bounded by Road 426, Highway 41, Sky Ranch Road and Bass Lake.
Montalto points out that the Board position is for a ten-month term ending in 2018, rather than the balance of Joe Smith’s full term through 2020, as was previously posted on the District website. A correction has since been made.
The second opportunity invites community members to serve on a newly established Board Budget Advisory Committee. Terms of one, two or three years available. The application for the Board Budget Advisory Committee can be downloaded at http://www.yosemiteusd.com/ — scroll down toward the bottom of the page and click under the Announcements and News section. The application is due by Thursday, Feb. 1.
Meanwhile, a special committee has been formed to recall the YUSD Board of Trustees, say community volunteers. The next meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. at Round Table Pizza in Oakhurst.
“We have made the decision to proceed with recalling the entire YUSD Board,” says committee member Anita Johnson.
The movement to recall comes after months of increasingly rancorous Board meetings in which parents, teachers, classified staff, and other community members have repeatedly asked for financial accountability and transparency from the Board. Many are unhappy with the District’s response.
It’s a dynamic situation with a lot of moving parts, full of confusing acronyms and growing accusations, including an assertion that the Board has dropped the ball, leaving the District in financial distress so severe that Madera County is involved, and the State could be next. Meanwhile, rumors of program cuts abound, while teachers have been without a contract for two years, and classified staff are said to be at impasse, a technical term in negotiations, after which the next step is mediation.
“This Board has known for at least four years that there was a fiscal crisis imploding,” says parent and Yosemite High School alum Anita Johnson. “Deficit budgets were approved by the current YUSD Board while the per student reimbursement formula under LCAP changed and the Board did not change or make any corrective actions. They continue to be fiscally irresponsible and refuse to resign.”
The recall committee says that community leaders, business leaders and parents are encouraged to come to the meeting.
“We are encouraging people to join us as potential candidates for each of the five Areas,” says Johnson. “Please come to this meeting so you are educated and informed about the recall process.”
For more information contact Anita Johnson at (559) 760-6848.
Even as visions of pink slips dance in educators’ heads, and despite the swirling hailstorm of budgetary woes and contractions which have only just begun, students, teachers, and staff at schools within the District continue to shine. With all the dollars and apparent lack of sense in play, it’s hoped that community members step forward — because it’s the kids who really count.
This article was edited on Jan. 17 at 10:25 a.m. to reflect a correction in the 2018 presidency of the Board of Trustees.