▸ Government body: Pacifica School Board
▸ Time and date: Wednesday, 7 p.m., May 10
▸ Present: President Lynda Brocchini, Clerk Nidhi Patel, Vice Clerk Elizabeth Bredall, Boardmember Kai Doggett
▸ Absent: Vice President Laverne Villalobos
▸ Public comment on personnel changes: Sue Beckmeyer, of the Pacifica City Council, and Nicole Ortega, of the California School Employees Association, asked the board for more information about why a previously “classified” employee was now on the “certificated” roster. “I have deep concerns when work is taken out of classified and transferred to certificated with very little information as to why it’s being done,” said Ortega. Some participants say communication issues have been an ongoing source of headaches for both school employees and the board, which passed a motion to accept personnel changes excluding mention of the staff member in question. The subject will be revisited at a later date.
▸ Public comment: Meghann Elsbernd from the Laguna Salada Education Association brought attention to veteran teacher Michelle Kale’s recent death. Kale worked for the district for over 34 years educating generations of Ortega and Oddstad students. She was “known for her love of books and yearly incubation of chicks. Her Pacifica School District colleges are grateful for her decades of service.”
▸ Nicole Sayers, president of the Pacifica chapter of the CSEA presented the “Above and Beyond’’ award for the month to Aaron Turley, groundskeeper, and Carlos Marino, custodian. She then turned her attention to welcoming the new appointees. “We would like to extend a warm welcome to Darnise Williams, the new superintendent,” she said. “CSEA would also like to congratulate Cathy Alderson on her new principal position at IBL and Rachel Carion on her new principal position at Ortega school.”
▸ Patrick Sayers from the Pacifica School Volunteers spoke on the academic volunteer opportunities his organization provides. “We really need volunteers. After COVID, there was kind of a drop in our numbers and people were hesitant about returning … If you have as little as an hour a week that you can dedicate to volunteering, there are a lot of students who would appreciate support in the classroom.”
▸ New Superintendent Darnise Williams: The board reviewed the employment agreement which detailed Williams’ salary of $230,000 a year through 2026 and a personal automobile provided by the district. The board then voted unanimously to appoint Darnise Williams as superintendent of the district. “I look forward to working alongside all of you in the best interest of our babies, our children,” Williams said before being acknowledged with a round of applause and a bouquet of flowers.
▸ New principal at Ingrid B. Lacy middle school: The board voted to hire Cathy Alderson as principal at IBL after she served as interim principal earlier this year. “I appreciate your confidence and I look forward to being part of a school community that helps kids achieve their fullest,” she said.
▸ New principal at Ortega Elementary: School PTO President Maria Jackson called in to say that the “Ortega community was not involved in the hiring process” of Rachel Carion as the new principal. She was frustrated by the lack of communication. Two more members of the community echoed Jackson’s sentiment. Eventually all board members except for Doggett voted in favor of appointing Carion as principal of Ortega. “I’m really excited to meet and partner with all of the families and staff,” she said of her new position.
▸ Declaration of need for qualified teachers: A total of 34 new staff positions were identified consisting of 10 multiple subject teachers, 10 single subject teachers and 14 special ed teachers. “We are putting a large number just in case,” said Carla Chávez Torres. “We are doing our due diligence to hire credentialed teachers as much as possible but sometimes our teachers are interns.”
— Adrian Jose Fernandez
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