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TUSD welcomes new School Board members

School Board Update

There was a jam packed day at the Tehachapi Unified School District Board Meeting on Dec. 13. The oath of office was taken by new incoming school board members. The new trustees are Cassandra Sweeney of Area 2, covering Stallion Springs and some of Bear Valley; Deborah Du-Sorenson of Area 4, covering Golden Hills; Professor Wayne Cooper of Area 5, covering some of Golden Hills and the west side of Tehachapi; and Paul Kaminski of Area 6, which covers Downtown Tehachapi and Sand Canyon.

Once sworn in, the new board voted in Paul Kaminski as the new President 4/3 against Clerk Jackie Wood. Trustee Tracy Kelly was voted in as Vice President, 6/1 and was elected as the Kern County Representative. Jackie Wood was unanimously voted in as the Clerk.

The Superintendent update included news that Golden Hills Elementary held their first science fair since the pandemic on Nov. 30 and have holiday plays scheduled in the rest of December. The school district has seen a 5 percentage point increase in attendance from last year. Tehachapi High School and Cerro Coso Community College are now partnered for dual enrollment, allowing students to take English 101 in the fall and English 102 in the spring. These classes are UC and CSU transferable, fast tracking students to get their degrees.

In the content agenda was the decision to renew the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (or SSARS) memorandum. The program is designed to teach students to spot the warning signs and threats on social media from students or staff that may cause harm to themselves or others. The end goal is for the student or adult to use the Anonymous Reporting System app, website or telephone line to get help. The program was first adopted by TUSD in 2019 under Superintendent Paul Kaminski. The SSARS was made in reaction to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Trustees Tyler Napier and Tracy Kelly shall be the board representatives on the TUSD Facilities Advisory Committee. As we had reported previously on the In The Loop - A Tehachapi Podcast, last month, Trustees Napier, Kelly and Wood formed an ad-hoc group to nail down the bylaws for this new facilities committee. This committee is intended to oversee the issues brought forward by Booster Club President Corey Costelloe, including gopher holes in the soccer field and weed-filled cracks in the tennis court.

They unveiled the bylaws for the Facilities Committee. The committee will consist of 15 voting members. One parent representative from each school; CV, GH, TPK, JMS, THS, TILA (6) Three community members (3); One representative each from CSEA, TAT, and Confidential Management (3); One secondary level (grade 6-10) student member (1); Two TUSD Board Members (2); One District Facilitator - Chief Business Officer (non-voting). They will be open meetings following the Brown Act. The minutes will be available and anyone from the community can sit in on the committee meetings. Booster Club did not get a seat but that doesn't preclude them from getting a community member seat.

During the public comment, the Tehachapi Association of Teachers had a strong showing. The room was packed, with all chairs filled and two rows of people standing in the back, all dressed in red. "Red for Ed!" was the calling from the teachers. They are going into negotiations with the district for salary increases. Teachers say that for years the cost of living adjustments have been small and with the larger amount of inflation this year, teachers are feeling the burn. Many pointed to the larger salaries of neighboring school districts like Sierra Sands and argued that Tehachapi misses out on quality teachers due to the low pay.

Teachers are still in negotiations, but stay tuned to future episodes of In The Loop - A Tehachapi Podcast (inthelooptehachapi.transistor.fm) for updates.

The TUSD Board of Trustees meets on the second Tuesday of the month at Wells Education Center located at 300 S. Robinson St., Tehachapi, at 5 p.m.