Two new faces will greet the audience, as well as the board on Monday, Aug. 12 as Oakdale Joint Unified hosts its first school board meeting of the 2019-2020 academic year.
Incoming senior Emily Takaki will replace Zach Hill as the 2019-2020 Student School Board Member, while recently hired Kassandra Booth has spent the summer getting her feet wet as the newly hired Chief Business Officer.
The newly appointed women share an excitement as well as experience which promise to serve as valuable assets to OJUSD.
Booth has spent the past 12 years in school business. She began her career with Clovis School District in 2007, before branching off to Calaveras Unified in 2015. With a family history steeped deep in education the Fresno State graduate shared she feels fortunate to have found a place for her Business Administration degree in education.
“The position opened up with Clovis and I was lucky enough to get into education early in my career and just have loved being in the public sector,” she shared. “Knowing that anything I do is for the betterment of the school districts.”
Her 2007 entry into education came just before the recession, quickly tasking her with the challenge of maintaining district finances with limited resources and a tight budget.
“Most of the time that I’ve been in education, I’ve been in a district where we’re making cuts. That’s just the experience that I’ve had,” Booth said.
“We know one’s coming,” she added of the next recession. “They come every 10 years and it’s been 10 years. It’s going to happen within the next few years.”
Her experience, as well as her knowledge, give her an understanding, as well as appreciation for OJUSD’s conservative financial approach by way of a high reserve. Her family connection in Stanislaus County also served as a motivator in pursuing the job opening post retirement of previous Chief Business Officer Susan Dyke.
“I love Oakdale Joint Unified’s leadership commitment,” Booth said. “That was one of the biggest things that turned me on to wanting to work here. They have 12 commitments that as a leader, we are going to be these things and we’re going to do these things. That spoke to me.”
Sharing a love for what she does, as well as embedding herself in the community where she’s employed, Booth shared she’s enjoyed her relocation to Oakdale. The finance major noted her passion for what she does and the love she has for showing up to work each day. She also shared she chose the field of finance/business management primarily due to her love for analysis and following trends.
“I really hope to move things along. Bring some fresh ideas, because I didn’t come from one school district,” she said of her future with the OJUSD administrative team. “I have experience both in a small school district as well as a large school district.”
While there are many things she hopes to bring to the district to help with future growth, she has already had experience with a “first” in her career. The new Chief Business Officer shared she was offered the job, immediately after her panel interview.
“I wasn’t prepared for that, but was impressed by the camaraderie with the interview panel,” she said, noting the friendly nature the panel shared and joking with one another.
“I think it’s important to represent who you are. I still see that to this day,” she said of joining the team. “They were all very friendly but also to each other. That sold me on this job.”
Student School Board representative Takaki was also impressed by the friendliness of the existing board. The newly appointed representative shared she was encouraged to pursue the position by Leadership Advisor Guy Fowler as well as outgoing representative Hill.
Currently active in Link Crew, S-Club and Leadership, Takaki is looking forward to having a voice for the entire OJUSD student population.
“I want to make sure and include all the schools, not just the high school,” Takaki said of her role on the board.
The OHS senior also keeps busy as part of the OHS Cross Country and Soccer teams, as well as playing competitive soccer. She’s been kicking a ball around since the age of five.
“I’m a little nervous to be the only student in that place full of adults, but I’m excited,” Takaki confided.
Booth echoed the sentiments of the OHS senior stating, “That’s why I love working in this industry. We all have a common goal and as long as we stay focused on them and the reason why we are here working together just makes it such a great place to work.”