By Roger Gitlin – EYE ON DEL NORTE – October 15, 2021
I attended my first in a very long time on-site meeting of the Del Norte Unified School District. As a retired Multi-Subject CLAD Credentialled Teacher, I have a great love and passion to teach kids and for improving the quality of education in Del Norte County.
Tonight’s meeting was NOT a walk down memory lane. I came to listen to a Facilities Funding Voter Survey presentation by Jon Isom.
Prior to this presentation a Promise Neighborhood grant award from the Yurok Nation was presented to the Board. When it came to hearing public comments, Board Vice President and presiding Boardmember Charlaine Mazzei declined to allow any public comment. The pronouncement was emphatic and arbitrary and, quite candidly, offensive. Ms. Mazzei reminded those in attendance each may speak during Public Comments at the very END of the Meeting.
When Mr. Isom finished his presentation re: initial public response to a proposed $47 million bond issue, I patiently waited for Board member Mazzei to move on to the next Agenda matter; I raised my hand. Upon being recognized to speak, I politely requested Ms. Mazzei reconsider her decision denying public comment on the Survey and asked her to poll the other Board members on this early opportunity for public comments while Mr. Isom was present. To his credit, Superintendent Jeff Harris intervened advised the Board exceptions to public comment presentation was not uncommon and should be considered.
The Board acceded and allowed me to speak.
I brought my just-received 2021-2022 property tax bill and reminded the Board there were FIVE School Facilities Bonds on my tax bill, FOUR were associated with additional assessments, A, D, E, F and the Board was soon to consider yet another letter to this alphabet soup of Assessments.
I reminded the Board the public is and continues to be overwhelmed by what appears to be a seemingly endless river of assessments. The Public is beleaguered, and reminded Board members, test scores and student evaluations from Del Norte County are abysmal and at the very bottom of the 58 counties. This inconvenient truth of poor student results flies in the face of the property owner who is continually asked to pay the bill.
There is an encouraging end to this story. Ms. Mazzei stopped me as I was exiting the meeting and thanked me for speaking to her respectfully and in civil manner. Long-time Board member Don McArthur was standing with us and I addressed both.
“Let the public speak. Allow open and healthy exchange of opinions and close the Grand Canyon-esq chasm. By allowing the public to vent their opinion, you may very well discover people just want to be heard.”
Tomorrow, I will address other subject matters on the Agenda, including the controversial sex curriculum being taught at DNHS.