Transitions are the theme for Shoreline Unified School District this school year. The latest happened at this month’s school board meeting on Dec. 10: Two new trustees were sworn in to take the place of two outgoing members of the board. As someone who embraces change, I am excited for the new possibilities and also very grateful to the outgoing trustees for their service.
At last month’s meeting at West Marin School, Trustee Monique Moretti received a standing ovation and many kind words from the audience. It was her last meeting after eight years of service. Many praised her thoughtful contributions to sometimes-difficult discussions about the direction of the district. Most recently, Monique showed leadership in questioning the precedence of health benefits for trustees during a time of fiscal crisis; in fact, she was the first to give up her benefits voluntarily once the issue was raised. Monique hails from the ranching community (a group historically well-represented on the school board) and many on the board are her long-time friends. She showed courage in asking hard questions and challenging business as usual. Her last request was that the board re-visit the health benefit issue again. Her voice will be missed.
Kegan Stedwell served for most of one term and chose not to run for election this year. She brought a new perspective to the board and introduced new ideas on curriculum and alternative education models, including a Spanish immersion program. She asked important questions, and although she did not send her children to school in the district, she made an effort to attend local school events and meet with families to get their perspectives. Parents appreciated these efforts. Kegan withdrew from her position earlier this year, and her perspective and vote were sorely missed at several board meetings.
Avito Miranda, the first Latino trustee in over a decade, is taking her seat. Shifting demographics at the district mean that now the majority of students come from homes where English is a second language. Having a trustee who speaks Spanish and can more fully represent the needs and aspirations of Latino students and families is more critical than ever. For me and many other parents, the fact that Avito has a child at West Marin School is equally important. We have not had that “on the ground” representation in many years. Avito ran uncontested, but don’t take that as apathy in the southern part of the district. There were a number of interested candidates, but none that felt their qualifications superseded the importance of a Latino representative on the board.
Vonda Jensen, filling the seat that Monique Moretti is vacating, represents the northernmost part of the district. The board appointed her when nobody stepped forward to run for the seat. This lack of interest and engagement from the area that represents Bodega Bay Elementary is concerning. Strong representation of this part of the district is more important than ever to help solve the problem of declining enrollment and the high cost per student at Bodega Bay Elementary. Vonda’s background in finance will be an asset to the board, and I know parents are very grateful that she stepped up to the job.
The new class of trustees, bolstered by a recently developed strategic plan, will take on the task of hiring a new superintendent in early 2016. I’m hopeful that a new superintendent and board of trustees will usher in a period of stability in leadership, dynamic change and continued improvement in the classrooms.
Donna Faure, the Parent-Teacher-Student Association’s treasurer, lives in Inverness.
CORRECTTION: This article was originally published online under the "Feature" heading. However, it is an opinion piece. We apologize for the error.