With the New Year ahead, the Stockton Unified School District board will set about the task of unraveling and unpacking the myriad of issues that have plagued the district.
As newly elected board member Donald Donaire sees it, at the forefront of his priorities is ensuring the districts budgets are properly reported, he said.
“We have a $30 million deficit, and we will be working with the county to make sure we address that,” Donaire said.
Re-elected board member Angel Flores agrees that the board needs to be “filled in on the current status of our budget… so we can know what we are working with.”
The board “should not make any major decisions” yet because the new board members need training, Flores said. “We can start working from there. We need to see what the needs are first.”
Much has been made of the new bloc of trustees, dubbed the “reformers,” who many hope will settle the contention that has defined the district. Health care industry leader Sofia Colon defeated Area 6 incumbent Scot McBrian, while Kennetha Stevens defeated Area 7 Zachary Ignacio Avelar. Community educator and advocate Donaire won the Area 5 seat, replacing termed-out Trustee Maria Mendez.
“The way we ran… was very individual,” Donaire said, who disagrees with the reformer label.
Flores agreed that while the newly elected board officials are all individuals, “we all have the same objectives: to remain student centered, transparent and accountable. We all bring different sets of skills to the board.”
Addressing the “superintendent revolving door” will be one of Donaire’s top priorities, he said. “Right now we are considering what routes to take.”
“It’s definitely very high, a top priority,” said Flores, of the search for a permanent superintendent. “We need a strong superintendent who will be able to operate without being micromanaged and educated on the budget and making sure they are hiring people who are qualified in the positions that need to be filled.”
“I think all of us new board members have a big job ahead of us,” said trustee Kennetha Stevens. “It’s about accountability, transparency, and relationships.”
Trustees Cecilia Mendez (Area 1), Ray Zulueta (Area 4) and Sofia Colon (Area 6) did not return calls for comment. Area 3 trustee Alicia Rico declined to comment, stating “I don’t like to talk about that because they didn’t say anything good about the board members.”