Change will be coming for elected board members of the Oakdale Joint Unified School District as the new Trustee Area was voted upon and approved at Monday night’s board meeting, March 9.
Currently usage of an at-large system for board member elections exists, but the board will now adopt a by-trustee area election process. Following two public forums, offering the community opportunity to review a choice of four separate recommendations the final hearing was held and voted on.
Enlisting the help and expertise of a demographer, maps were equally divided to represent approximately 6100 residents within each area. Factors including ethnicity, socioeconomic make up and guidelines compliant with the federal voting rights act were taken into account when the five trustee areas were being established.
“We want to make them logical boundaries,” Larry Ferchaw, the district demographer said. “Keeping communities of interest that make sense together. Using major roads where possible.”
Board member Barbara Shook inquired on the current at-large system which allots one representative for the Valley Home and Knights Ferry area.
“So that’s been thrown out basically,” she inquired of the current system. “I wanted to make sure I was clear on that.”
Superintendent Malone confirmed her question.
“So whoever represents Valley Home is in that area basically and whoever represents Knights Ferry is in that area,” Shook continued.
“I would say depending upon the map those areas now have really double the representation,” Malone said of the new boundary proposals. “So now rather than one board member representing both, really the way the maps are drawn it’s a separate board member in each one of those areas.”
Current board members will maintain their existing seat until their term is up, at which time the guidelines for each member will apply.
Board member Shook proposed scenario two, noting varying reasons for her decision including she felt it provides every area with a blend of city and rural, does not divide by highways 120 and 108, and gives Valley Home additional representation. Board member Mike House confirmed her proposal. The board voted unanimously on Scenario Two.
Prior to the adoption of Resolution #19-20-12, By Trustee Area Election Process, Oakdale Teachers Association President Keith Burns addressed the board during the Organization Report portion of the meeting. Burns offered kudos to the board for their thoroughness and execution regarding addressing the Coronavirus.
“We appreciate the district’s measured response to the Covid-19 information,” Burns stated.
Sunday evening an all-district e-mail was generated by Superintendent Malone outlining bullet points on how the District office plans to mitigate the virus.
Points in the notification include taking into account that currently information regarding the virus is ever changing and proper protocols will be but in place with this as consideration. Plans to close school campuses will only take effect if directed by the Stanislaus County Health Officer, Dr. Julie Vaishampayan. Sound medical evidence will determine the course of action.
“It is safe to say that a number of mitigation steps would be taken before a school closure would be enacted,” the e-mail said.
School activities will not be limited, however team travel and field trips out of the area will now be subject to Malone’s approval, taking into account that locations will be checked against a master list that is updated daily, showing counties in alert status.
If school closure should be deemed necessary, it will be clearly communicated by the district as to what that will look like and the course of action which will need to be taken.
“I simply can’t provide that information at this point because our unique set of factors in real time will determine our course of action,” Malone stated in the correspondence.
Additional information on the District notification can be found on the district website www.ojusd.org
As is customary the meeting was opened with the Pledge of Allegiance being led by elementary school students. Jocelyn Arnold, Camila Hernandez, Hayden Felt and Will Duncan of Cloverland Elementary School did the honors.
The next OJUSD Board meeting will be hosted on Monday, April 6 at the OJUSD Tech Center. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 6:30 p.m.