Board of Trustees

An Open Letter from the Buellton Union School District 
Board of Trustees

We on the Buellton Union School Board have been fielding quite a few questions lately from parents in the District on a broad range of subjects. Some things have easy answers, and some are quite difficult to explain. We've put this "Frequently Asked Questions" sheet together to give you a basic idea of how things work.

Q: Who is on the Board?

A: The Board is made up of five publicly elected (or appointed if no one runs, or if someone resigns) individuals who live within the District. There is no pay for these positions; we do this job because we care. Our reward is seeing our outstanding kids succeed. A Board member's term is four years, and your current Board consists of:

Christy Nordgren, Board President
Ryan SullivanBoard Clerk
Elaine Alvarado, Board Member
Allison Jordan, Board Member
Jessie Skidmore, Board Member

Q: What does the School Board do? 
A: The Board is responsible for the health and welfare of the District itself. The Board interviews, recruits, and then provides oversight for a District Superintendent who runs the District on a day-to-day basis. The Superintendent is the Board's only employee, and the Superintendent reports directly to the Board. It is important to note that we are responsible for the overall condition of the District and that we can't "play favorites" to a specific cause or group. We treat everyone and every issue with the same attention and care!
Some of the things the Board is responsible for include:

  • ratification of employment for new employees (both certificated and classified)
  • providing education programs that meet the needs of our community, including needs for Special Education
  • preparation of an annual budget
  • approving textbooks and learning material choices, based on the list of approved materials provided by the California Department of Education
  • ensuring compliance with Education Code
  • planning and goal setting
  • ratification of collective bargaining unit contracts

Q: When does the Board meet? 
A: Public meetings are held at 7:00pm on the second Wednesday of each month. These meetings currently take place in the Jonata Library. Agendas of items that will be discussed and voted on are publicly posted prior to each meeting at the following locations: In the glass enclosed bulletin board outside Jonata's offices and in the front window of Oak Valley's office. Agendas are always posted in advance of the meeting in compliance with the laws of the State of California. The general public is always welcome during all Open Session meetings.

Q: Who attends Board Meetings? 
A: There are always at least three Board Members present (more on that later), as well as the following people:

-Randal Haggard, Superintendent
-Melissa Maxwell, Chief Business Official
-Larissa Cortez, Executive Assistant
-Lisa Melby, Oak Valley and Jonata Principal
-Casey Mckeen, Oak Valley and Jonata Assistant Principal
-Opal Bauldry, Human Resource Specialist
-Vicki Murray, Learning Coordinator

-Claudia Echavarria, Director of Special Education
-Beverly Sherman, Coordinator of Special Education Programs

In addition, representatives from our PTSA, BEA and faculty often attend.

Q: How do the meetings work? 
A: This is local government in action. First off, we need a quorum. This means we need at least three of our five Board Members present to form a majority. Voting is counted by a simple majority. The Board President acts as the emcee, ensuring that everything runs smoothly. The District Secretary takes notes and keeps a record of the votes (notes from previous meetings are available in the District Office).

Board meetings are held using what is commonly known as "Rules of Parliamentary Procedure." These "rules" are commonly used in organizations throughout the world, from small School Boards to multi-billion dollar corporations to international negotiations. It seems kind of stuffy, but the rules ensure that all of our I's are dotted and our T's are crossed. The term "Action Item" is used throughout the meetings All agenda items are listed as Action Items whether we choose to take action on them or not, allowing the flexibility of not having to reschedule a special meeting to finish one item.

Q: What is a Closed Session Meeting? 
A: There are certain sensitive issues that, in compliance with the laws of the State of California, must be handled in Closed Session. This is the only time that the Public may not be present. Topics discussed in Closed Session are things such as personnel issues and expulsion hearings. Other than the Board and the Superintendent, the only people that may be present are the actual people involved with the subject matter being discussed at the meeting. Closed Session meetings are not regularly scheduled. When a Closed Session meeting is called for, it is publicly posted to let people know that it is happening. The posting is done at the same locations where meeting agendas are posted. When we have them, we generally schedule them 30 or so minutes prior to the start of an Open Session meeting.

Q: How does the public speak to the Board? 
A: Buellton is a small town and individual Board Members are approached all the time, at the grocery store, the gas station, open houses, everywhere! If a member of the public wants to voice a concern, sing praise, or make a comment on an issue that doesn't appear on the meeting's agenda, they are invited to fill out a Speaker's Slip that lists their name and the subject they wish to speak about. These slips are then given to the Board Clerk, who will then call on the individuals to speak.

Q: What powers does the Board have? 
A: We are limited to what we can do by a number of factors, namely the Education Code. We are frequently asked about things like the budget. While on the surface, a portion of the budget may make it appear that there is money to spare, the fact of the matter is that the State will only allow certain dollars to be spent on specific things. There are both restricted and non-restricted budgets made up of categorical items. While it may not be quite this graphic, a hypothetical extreme would be that "the money from account "X" may only be spent to cut grass that leans to the left when the sun is out on an odd numbered day."

Q: What do I need to do to come to a meeting? 
A: Just show up! Remember, the meetings are on the second Wednesday of each month in the Jonata Library at 7:00pm. We would like to extend an invitation to everyone!