Steven Llanusa, newly elected Claremont Unified Schools District President, has had a difficult 22 months.
Llanusa stated that the board has dealt with the COVID crisis for the past two years with as much flexibility and adaptability as possible in a constantly changing environment.
Many have written recently about the severe mental blow the Omicron variant-related spike has delivered to teachers, administrators and staff across the U.S. Teachers, staff, and administrators are losing their faith as some districts return online learning. Everyone seems to be running on fumes, and the growing problem of burnout is alarming. Llanusa was asked by the COURIER how the CUSD Board for Education is doing.
He said that I don’t think the board has ever considered our morale or given us an opportunity to. They were too busy trying take care of the morale and needs of students, staff, and families in our school district. Those are our priority.
Llanusa, like many others the COURIER spoke to over the past 22 month, said that the pandemic has thrown off all of his expectations about what his job would be like.
He said that while I did not envision education occurring in a situation like this I do believe it is possible. Although we know that the after is coming soon, we are too busy planning for it. We are trying to find the resources we need to cover classes on an everyday basis.
CUSD Superintendent Jeff Wilson (Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources Kevin Ward) have informed the COURIER in the past two weeks that the ability to place teachers in classrooms in order to cover COVID-affected colleagues has been a top concern in determining if schools are able remain open for in-person instruction. Llanusa concurred.
He said that it was the truth. As a district we are working hard to ensure that every classroom has an adult teacher. We will not allow principals to take over classes or district office personnel to travel to schools to takeover classes. We are doing our best to ensure that students’ education is not harmed or minimized.
Llanusa was hopeful that CUSD teachers and staff would use the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend for some much-needed rest.
I hope our district personnel are getting some rest and relaxation. Theyve been covering classes but students go home after that. Then they return to their offices to continue their regular jobs.
Llanusa also praised teachers for their efforts to keep schools open. They have been subbed during prep periods at secondary schools, and they also take extra students to elementary schools when colleagues are sick.
The most significant non-COVID news coming out of the school board’s is, like the Claremont City Council decision in which it switched from at large to district elections, that the CUSD Board is in the final stages in implementing an item approved in December 2018, 2018 to transition into by-trustee areas elections beginning with this November’s contest.
The mapping process began in August 2021. The final maps for the five areas by-trustees were reviewed at this week’s board meeting. It took place after press time on Thursday. A final approval vote will be held at the board’s February 3 meeting if no modifications were requested. If modifications are required, the measure can be considered at its February 17, assembly.
Llanusa said that it is our priority to ensure that every elementary school has at most two board members.
Each of the seven Claremont elementary schools has an attendance area map. These maps indicate which school a child will attend based upon where their home is located on a map. This board action will not affect those maps. The new trustee area maps were created to make it easier for board members to divide these attendance areas in order to maximize their representation.
Llanusa explained that, for example, an elementary school could have two to three board members within its attendance boundary. These areas are created so that they overlap different attendance boundaries.
Llanusa stated that the goal is to prevent one school from having only one member of its board. This will ensure that each school in CUSD’s 10 schools understands how much the board cares for them.
It has been a challenge.
Llanusa said that it was because she believes it offers a different outlook to demographers from other districts. We care about everyone, even though we won’t be elected to office.
Because they are all district-wide facilities, and have no attendance boundaries, the three districts’ secondary schools El Roble Intermediate Intermediate, Claremont High, and San Antonio High will not appear on the bytrustee area maps. Each member of the board will represent them equally.
The board met in person in September 2021, after more than a decade of virtual quorums. A few months later, when the virus appeared to have returned, the public was invited back to the boardroom to take part in person. The Zoom option was continued.
The Omicron variant-related COVID spike has not affected this plan. Llanusa explained that the seating arrangements for the audience and five board members are socially distancing.
CUSD Superintendent Jeff Wilson proposed a resolution to be adopted at this week’s meeting. 09-2022 Continuing Board of Education Authority for virtual meetings in accordance with AB 361 from January through February 2022. Llanusa doubted that it would ever be adopted.
You mean, why would we use virtual teachers when our own teachers do not? He asked. The five members came to an agreement that they would support teachers in any way possible.
Other actions taken by the board since September include discussions about the sale of the La Puerta school property, and its impact on CUSD; an examination of the recommendations of the district advisory commission on racial equitys to the board regarding CHSs school resources officer; and recognition for Nancy Tresser Osgoods work during her term.
More information on CUSD Board of Education including upcoming meetings can be found at https://www.cusd.claremont.edu/board.