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:

Joyce Azevedo, Board Member
Julie Everett, Board President
Jon Macaluso, Board Member
Marcilo Sarquilla, Board Clerk
Terry Schrepel, 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: Tom Cooper, BUSD Superintendent; Patti Garrett, Jonata Principal; Joel Williamson, Oak Valley Principal; Cyndi Clarke, Business Manager; Terri Schrepel, District Secretary; and usually, the current PTSA President. We also have regular updates from Casey Cypert, the District's MTO (Maintenance, Transportation and Operations) Manager. With the creation of the Santa Ynez Valley Special Education Consortium, Dr. Walter "Wally" Olson, Director of Special Education, is a contributing participant. We also like to have one of our very busy teachers present if possible.

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 else goes on?
A: We have guest speakers that give us updates on projects going on with the District and in other parts of the State. We have had City Manager Steve Thompson give us updates on things like Oak Park, Riverview Park, Avenue of the Flags, and the need for traffic lights and crosswalks on Highway 246. And we do something called Buellton Pride. The Administrative Staff invites and publicly names individuals who have gone out of there way to do great things within the District. These can be parents, students, teachers or other staff. If you have a suggestion, let Tom, Joel, or Patti know!

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!

Since Superintendent Cooper joined the District, some of the milestones we've accomplished include:
•   The successful passage of the bond initiative that has allowed us to complete Oak Valley's campus, as well as the modernization of Jonata's campus.
•   The creation of the Santa Ynez Valley Special Education Consortium, which has allowed the participating School Districts within the Valley to gain local control and fiscal management to better serve our District's residents.
•   The joint use agreement and financial contribution from the City of Buellton allowing us to build the new gymnasium on the Jonata campus (ground breaking scheduled February 2007!).
•   Significant increases in academic performances in ALL student groups.
•   The highly successful implementation of the Language/Arts ExCell program.
•   The District's ability to retain both programs and staff during the State's budget deterioration.

Click below to download an Acrobat Reader (PDF) file of a BUSD Board Agenda.

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3_8_06_BoardMtgMinutes.doc 44.00 Kb 5/09/2006 Minutes
4_19_06_BoardMtgMinutes.doc 47.50 Kb 5/09/2006 Minutes
5.10.06_Agenda.doc 35.00 Kb 5/09/2006 Agendas