School notes: school board election changes, new president 

Posted on February 10, 2020 by Sonoma Valley Sun


Some changes are afoot regarding elections for school board trustees. The school district’s board held four public meetings focused on transitioning from an “at-large” model, where everyone votes for all trustee candidates, to a model where trustees are individually elected by the voters in five separate and equally-populated areas. The new voting areas bring the district into compliance with the California Voting Rights Act, ensuring that a protected class of voters has the ability to influence elections. At the January 21 board meeting, the trustees unanimously selected one of the five maps created by a demographer, which constituents expressed most reflects the spirit of the law.


Attorney John Kelly is the new President of the Sonoma Valley Unified School Board. The job of the board president is to serve as a facilitator of the meetings, and to produce the agenda in collaboration with the superintendent. The president is also the public spokesperson for the board’s decisions and activities. Kelly says that one of the things he is most proud of is that the board has now addressed “the legal liability created by the district’s failure to redistrict eight years ago.” When the last demographic study was done in 2011, the population distribution demonstrated that the at-large election model was not in compliance with the California Voting Rights Act. ”I think all the current board members recognized the duty that we had to [redistrict], and this is a substantial positive change.” Another success, he said, is “that the district is making fiscally sound decisions and our reserves are now at the level recommended by our financial advisors.” The continued implementation of Measure E bond funds means that the district enjoys, among other things, “environmentally friendly electric school buses that will quietly and efficiently make students’ trips to schools better every day.” In terms of challenges with special education and test scores, Kelly feels the district has acknowledged the issues and “has begun taking proactive steps to provide an improved future, different from what has gone before.”


Peer Tutoring is now available at the high school on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays after school, in room J-13.

Free math tutoring for elementary grades is available Monday through Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club at Maxwell Park. Contact Program Director Jonathan Antimo for more information, 938-8544 x110.

 The Sonoma Valley Library offers free homework help on Tuesday afternoons from 3:00  to 5:00.


 Mark your calendar for February 27. The Ed Foundation is presenting a Barn Talk on “How Sonoma Has Changed” with historian Gayle LeBaron, publisher Bill Lynch, and SVHS history teacher and alumnus Andy Gibson. There is a reception from 6:30 to 7 p.m., and the conversation starts at 7 p.m. For tickets, go to


The Republic of Thrift recently donated $1,500 to each district school. They have donated over $268,000 since opening in 2012. Every purchase at the store benefits our local public schools. Find them at 17496 Sonoma Highway.


 Have you heard of RISK Sonoma? RISK stands for Resources, Information, Support, and Knowledge. It is a non-profit helping parents connect with resources for difficult issues relating to their kids, such as substance abuse, bullying, academic issues, or even trouble fitting in at school. In collaboration with the school district, RISK has sponsored talks for parents and teens on various topics including vaping, social media, binge drinking, and mental health. Go to for more information.



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