Rees in familiar role
Three-year board veteran Rick Rees is the new president of the Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees, a role his late wife held at the time of her death from breast cancer in April 2000.
Rees, whose children are 18 and 22, said that while “it runs through my head sometimes ‘what would Jackie think about all this,'” he’s proven he’s his own person on the board. While the two had similar values, Rees said, “We were pretty independent in thought from one another.”
Rees is pleased with the current makeup of the board, along with the new superintendent, Chet Francisco. “I think it’s a heck of a board and a good mix of folks and ideas.”
Topping the list of Rees’ priorities is Canyon View High School, the hard-fought, bond-funded project that’s in limbo thanks to declining enrollment and a shrinking budget.
“We need to make some decisions about the school,” Rees acknowledged. “What’s the optimum size for a high school? That’s not a discussion we’ve had, and the community’s got to decide. Is smaller with less programs better than bigger with all the bells and whistles?”
After “hacking and slashing” $9 million from the district’s budget in four years and closing two elementary schools, Rees is pretty sure “things are not going to get a whole lot worse.” Recently projections show the CUSD “only” needs to make cuts of $100,000 to $150,000 a year, but that doesn’t take into account that employees haven’t had Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) raises in several years.
Rees also expects a reworking of the district’s calendar, possibly including more frequent, longer breaks similar to year-round education, while preserving the schedules needed for sports teams, advanced placement courses and testing.
Trustees unanimously chose Rees as president at their Dec. 7 meeting. Jann Reed was elected vice president, Scott Huber was named clerk and Francisco will take the traditional supe’s role of secretary to the board.