by Lauren Curtis

The April 20 Coronado Unified School District Board Meeting kicked off with many attendees noticing a common theme amongst the trustees; they were all wearing purple. Trustee Palacios-Peters announced that the entire board was wearing purple to show support for military children during the month of the military child. The color purple represents the purple star that every school within the district has obtained, which shows the district’s commitment to supporting our community’s military children. 

Moving forward the agenda was approved unanimously, taking the meeting into this month’s spotlight presentations. The first presentation featured a collaboration between the Coronado Middle School Choir and Coronado Middle School Advanced Performing Arts. Together they performed two songs, with a large audience of family members and friends present to cheer them on. 

In the next spotlight presentation, Shane Schmeichel acknowledged and recognized the hard-working CoSA volunteers who recently put on an extremely successful gala. Finally, multiple presentations were given to award and celebrate the district’s classified employees of the year; Aaron Flores Pelayo, Maintenance Lead Worker; Alanna Rickards, Coronado High School Lead Librarian; Megan Pettit, Coronado Middle School Library Media Technician; Andre Murphy, Village Elementary School Instructional Assistant; Yolanda Gonzalez, Silver Strand Elementary Child Nutrition Services team member; and Traci Orth, Technology Resource Technician.

After a few clarifying comments from Trustee Youngblood and Deputy Superintendent Salamanca regarding transportation, and a period of public comment, a consolidated motion for the consent calendar passed unanimously. 

Deputy Salamanca then introduced CPA Shilo Gorospe with Eide Bailly to present the year-end audit for the year ending June 30, 2022. Gorospe briefly explained the findings of the audit, including both federal and state programs. After a period of discussion between Gorospe and the board, the motion to accept the audit passed unanimously. 

Moving forward to the second action item of the evening, Deputy Salamanca presented new information regarding California Energy Commission’s California Schools Healthy Air, Plumbing, and Efficiency (CALSHAPE) program. The district was previously not eligible for CALSHAPE funding, but due to a recent lifting of all income restrictions, the district is now able to apply for the grant funding. “The grant is very specific, it’s not to be used for new HVAC projects, it’s specifically for funding towards the assessment, general maintenance and adjustment of existing systems, filter replacements, and carbon dioxide monitors and instillation and certain minor repairs to improve existing HVAC systems,” explained Deputy Salamanca. A motion to accept the CALSHAPE program resolution passed unanimously, with Deputy Salamanca noting that once approved the funding is guaranteed.

The final action item of the evening would be the approval of the Annual Declaration of Need for Highly Qualified Educators for the 2023-2024 school year. The district’s Director of Human Resources, Armando Farias, gave a brief overview, explaining that at this point in time every single one of the district’s certificated unit members is fully credentialed. Superintendent Mueller explained that there are certain single-subject credential areas and certain special education subject credential areas that have been difficult to fill, though all positions are currently filled at this time. A motion to approve the declaration passed unanimously. 

Association of Coronado Teachers (ACT) President Jennifer Landry then presented the ACT Report. She introduced a new CUSD special education educator and gave a shoutout to multiple CUSD educators for their outstanding service to students and the district. She also stressed the need to attract and retain more educators and instructional assistants. Landry believes something needs to be done to help keep our educators motivated to stay in CUSD, noting that other districts nearby are offering double-digit percent salary increases, and are offering better health benefits. 

Student Boardmember Luke Johnson then presented his monthly report briefly explaining the recent goings on at each school site within the district. Following Johnson’s report, Deputy Salamanca answered questions regarding the department updates previously given to the board. Superintendent Mueller then presented updates on the Long Range Plan. There were two main areas of interest in the update; an application submission for another new DoDEA Grant, and the monthly update on the school site safety audit. “Understanding that this is of high community interest — the school site safety audit that has taken place, consideration for the board to host a special board meeting for the presentation of this audit. If not we will have the external auditor come to a future board meeting preferably May or our first June board meeting to present that report… but staff is asking for consideration to have a special board meeting for that, as it has been a topic of interest and conversation in the community,” said Superintendent Mueller. He also noted that the May 31 board meeting is being considered a special board meeting and it could possibly be added to that agenda. 

Next would be revisions to board policies, bylaws, administrative regulations, and/or exhibits, which would be very brief, quickly moving the meeting on to board member comments. Each board member would have a chance to describe their recent site visits and explain all the exciting new portions of the district they were able to explore, many for the first time. Following board member comments, Superintendent Mueller gave brief district highlights from the last few weeks including the CSF Telethon, Coronado’s Got Talent, CoSA programs, the Jog-A-Thon, the school site safety audit, and more. He also noted that “we are at a crossroads in public education.” Explaining that due to the pandemic and the rise in the cost of living, public schools are suffering from declining enrollment. “The state really needs to take a critical look at how they are supporting public education because I do believe that we are at a tipping point here and it’s going to require some action in Sacramento to support that,” Mueller said. 

After a period of divisive public comment mostly centered around the upcoming “Lead With Pride” summit (to which CUSD is not funding the attendance of any district personell), one speaker approached the board stating “After witnessing three instances of what I would call homophobia I couldn’t help but present something last minute.” She went on to recommend the district integrate the Trevor Project for the mental health and wellbeing of all students, specifically LGBTQ+ students. She then referenced a study from 2022 that found 45% of all LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered taking their own life. “I think it says a lot about the community that there are more people against helping kids be their authentic selves than those who are willing to advocate for them.” 

Another speaker who stated she was also not planning on speaking wanted to show support for the previous speaker and LGBTQ+ youth; stating that she also believes that the district should look into integrating the Trevor Project. “All of those academic markers that people are talking about, they are gonna go up if we can support our kids and have them feel safe in their schools.” 

Another speaker then approached to again agree, stating that she is “surprised and really shocked by the vitriol and the homophobic rhetoric in today’s public comment… to be so hateful to our children I think is unconscionable.” 

After the long session of public comment concluded, a proposed list of agendized items for future meetings was discussed and the meeting came to a close.

The next regularly scheduled CUSD Board Meeting will take place on Thursday, May 18, at 4 p.m. in the District Office Board Room at 201 Sixth Street, and is open to the public.

VOL. 113, NO. 17 - April 26, 2023

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