New faces take places at CUSD

With nary a reference to the previous office-holders, the Dec. 11 meeting of the Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees got off the ground with three new members taking their places behind shiny nameplates.

Scott Huber, Anthony Watts and Rick Rees unseated Trustees Donna Aro and Ann Sisco in the November election. Scott Schofield had opted not to run after a term filled with contentious teacher contract negotiations and budget cuts. What would have been the last meeting of the previous board had been canceled, with then-President Sisco citing a lack of agenda items, and their departure seemed somewhat abrupt. New board President Rick Anderson said after the meeting that the outgoing trustees would be recognized later for their contributions.

“Our community has done well and chosen well,” Anderson told the audience before the new members were sworn in by Judge Robert Glusman.

Anderson was unanimously elected president, a role he has filled in the past. The vice president is Steve O’Bryan. Rees is clerk, and Superintendent Scott Brown takes on the traditional post of secretary to the board. The new student representative is Amy English, of Pleasant Valley High School.

The dispensing of music and cookies by PVHS’s a cappella choir and culinary-arts students, respectively, helped sweeten the news that was to come: more budget cuts.

Brown told the board that the CUSD, based on the governor’s mid-year cuts proposal, will be hit first with a cut of $1.9 million “that we were promised and we won’t get.”

“We will get a clearer picture as legislative decisions get made,” said Brown, who remembers the last time the state took back money was in 1978, and that was only from districts’ reserves.

"This may not be the best of all times to sign on as a school board member," he warned, hinting at the community outrage that is sure to come with cuts to programs and people. "There are no safe budget categories at the moment. It’s a darn good time to be cautious."