Trustees appoint new Special Education & Student Services Director

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The Board of Trustees appointed a new Special Education & Student Services Director at a Winters Joint Unified School District special meeting held on Dec. 10.

Lisa Dennis, Human Resources Administrator, said 15 applicants were received and three candidates were interviewed by a panel of six Winters JUSD employees.

Staff recommended Josh Harris to be approved for the position.

Harris has over 20 years of extensive Special Education experience, including experience as a Special Education teacher, Principal, SELPA Director, Superintendent of Schools, and as a Special Education Attorney. 

“His broad view and deep understanding of special education and student services will be a tremendous asset to the Winters Joint Unified School District,” Dennis said.

Trustees unanimously approved the appointment.

Harris’ first day occurred on Monday, Dec. 14.

CBO option presented
Dennis also presented Trustees with an opportunity to approve a contract with Government Financial Strategies.

Kathy Colagrossi, Chief Business Officer, is set to retire and Winter JUSD has not yet found a qualified candidate to fill the CBO role.

“Efforts for recruitment for an interim and permanent CBO have turned out to be rather difficult,” said Dennis who also noted the CBO role was critical to the operation of the school district.

Government Financial Strategies was highly recommended by the Yolo County Office of Education and could serve as a support option as the school district continues to work on finding a CBO replacement.

The company has been in operation for over 30 years serving public agencies through a comprehensive approach to fiscal management. 

Bruce Colby, a retired CBO from the Davis Joint Unified School District, would be the main

contact supporting the Winters JUSD business department through the critical year end and Q1

budget, audits, labor negotiations, and staff training.

“From my phone calls with him, really a huge wealth of knowledge and would be a benefit to the school district,” Dennis said.

The fiscal impact would be $15,000 per month and is contracted through March 31,2021. Denis said the school district would be prorated for December and in the event a new CBO is identified prior to the March 31 end date.

Trustees voted unanimously to approve the contract which was set to begin as of Monday, Dec. 14.

Budgets approval
Colagrossi presented Trustees with the 2020/21 First Interim Report & Standards and Criteria Report and the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Budget Overview for Parents.

Trustee Rob Warren expressed concern on the quick turn around from the day Trustees were given the budget for review to the expected approval date.

“I’m not sure how we were expected as board members to go through a 96 page report and give approval about 30 hours after we got it. I’m curious about when this report was finalized with you guys,” Warren said.

Colagrossi said she had been expecting the 2020/21 First Interim Report to be approved at the regularly scheduled Dec. 17 meeting, and that the LCFF Budget Overview had prompted the special meeting.

“We take a few weeks to get all of our budgets correct. And it does take a while to prepare this whole report,” Colagrossi said. “This is the deadline I was presented with, and this was the board meeting I was told to be bringing this too.”

Normally the LCFF Budget Overview, in conjunction with the LCAP, was due by July 1 of each year. However, Senate Bill 98 added EC Section 43509 which changed the adoption date for the Budget Overview for Parents for the 2020-21 school year to be adopted and submitted on or before Dec. 15.

Trustee Carrie Green noted that she had scheduled a meeting with Colagrossi and Superintendent Diana Jiménez earlier in the week to discuss budget information in general, and advised other Trustees to reach out to district staff if they have questions.

Both budgets were approved 4-0-1. 

Warren noted his Abstention on both action items was due to a lack of time allowed to review.

“I don’t believe this came to us in a timely fashion. I had limited time to go through this and had multiple questions,” Warren said.

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