Sonoma Valley Sun


School Trustee John Kelly on district realignment, campus closures

Posted on March 5, 2023 by Sonoma Valley Sun

From John Kelly, Trustee, Area 3 — Sonoma Unified School District

Dear Members of Our Sonoma Community, 

Education is a process whereby we build and rebuild our community, one student and  one teacher at a time. Preserving and protecting Sonoma’s community has featured  prominently in all of our trustee discussions of realignment — making sure we keep what  makes Sonoma special.  

Our District has outstanding teachers and staff, and yet it consistently has turned in poor,  and indeed sometimes terrible results. We have all long known that leadership from the  board is necessary to ensure the dedicated professionals we have working for SVUSD are  able to implement educational strategies to address the systemic inequities in Sonoma  Valley.  

We all, together, have to have the courage to be willing to make the changes necessary to preserve the community we all have worked so long and so hard to build. Sonoma’s best  days are ahead of it, but only if we all come together to ensure that the next generation enjoys  the outstanding education we all know our teachers can and do deliver, and only if we make  sure the District is administered and run with educational effectiveness and the elimination  of waste as its twin objectives. 

Using a process established more than 30 years ago, I have agendized a realignment plan that ensures we use our educational dollars to maximize educational effectiveness. The  board can only evaluate proposals and act when an item is so agendized, and this agenda  item gives trustees an opportunity to discuss proposals, and choose to act on all, some, or  even none of those brought forward. But make no mistake, the board is following its long established and well-understood process. Any claims otherwise are simply false.  

By repurposing sites, Sonoma Valley Unified has the potential to become what is, I think,  the first “net zero” employer in terms of its impact on local housing. As the largest employer  in the Valley, that would both make a meaningful impact on our housing crisis, and serve  as an example for other employers and government agencies. Further, increasing the supply  of housing in the Valley is one of the best things we can do to help our working and middle class families, as well as our own teachers and staff. All of this can be done without bond  expenditures, and by retaining ownership of all our sites that are repurposed, this plan can yield long-term financial benefits.  

As proposed, we will keep all the campuses in the Springs open, which is where most of  our students reside. We can eliminate the District’s current use of un-credentialed teachers,  and reduce our need for scarce substitutes while protecting all of our employees’ jobs.  Middle and high school students will concentrate at the Broadway campus. This will ease  the strain on our transportation department, as previous District studies have shown. Even  better, our District’s financial analysis indicates realigning in this fashion would allow a one –time increase in teacher and staff pay of nearly 9%, on top of all other scheduled increases.  That is a real, concrete step in the right direction for those who deserve it most.  

We need to move promptly to ensure families, teachers, staff, and our community are  aware of the District’s plans. Nothing is more disruptive than ineffective instruction. Our  District has fiddled in a dilatory fashion for years on this issue, and given the waste our  current alignment causes, we cannot let it continue. The sooner we let everyone know our  plans, the better. That’s why we need to act now.  

Public education is the most radical method ever conceived to ensure that the hope of us  all, that every student has a fair chance to make the most of themselves, is brought to fruition.  Our schools have long been distracted by secondary objectives that do not serve the interests  of our students, or indeed of our community. Our board must focus on eliminating waste  and ensuring educational effectiveness, and must not let any other things get in the way. By  repurposing sites, concentrating on educational effectiveness, and adhering closely to the  well-established rules designed to govern this process, we can protect our community for  generations to come.  

It is not enough for the board to work on this alone — we need to hear from our  community. The District has established a web site that allows us to hear from everyone.  Our District can only function effectively when our constituents and stakeholders will freely  share what they know with the Board. It is: 

I hope that many of you that read this will take the opportunity to make a contribution.  Further, I and the other trustees have office hours, and we want to hear from you – my next  office hours are at 1:30 PM on March 9 at El Verano Elementary. I encourage you to seek out  the trustees, ask questions, and above all, please, make democratic self-governance in our  Valley a reality. 

— Sincerely, John Kelly

4 thoughts on “School Trustee John Kelly on district realignment, campus closures

  1. YES, there are major changes coming to the district.
    NO WAY is it going to happen exactly like this ill conceived proposal.
    Go to your area trustee’s office hours and talk about what you want.
    GET INVOLVED. Go to the meetings!!!

  2. Dear Gardner,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I encourage you to review the documents in support of this proposal, which you can find at the following links. I also encourage everyone to take the District’s survey, and register their opinion. Our District can only function effectively when our constituents and stakeholders will freely share what they know with the Board.



    John Kelly
    Trustee, Area 3
    Sonoma Valley Unified School District
    [email protected]
    (707) 935-6100

    PDF of Presentation and Supporting Documents:
    District Survey:

  3. The survey is for those that have children in the school system. This is as it should be, as they have a stake in how this school district operates. But, please keep in mind that we all vote for our school board representative for the area we live in. Reading news stories and the few school board meetings I have watched on recordings, leaves me with a sinking feeling. I see a web of contradictions in the news and unacceptable behavior by some board members in meetings. I for one plan to talk with our rep on the school board to get a better picture of what is really going on, so that I can be better informed as a voter next time around.

  4. John has some forward thinking ideas here that will address a very real demographic shift that is happening nationwide. This is a needed discussion; time to look forward and adapt.

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