New Superintendent shares thoughts, trustees re-elect Green as President

Superintendent Rody Boonchouyh and Trustees Everardo Zaragoza, Carrie Green, Joedy Michael, Kristin Trott and Sterling Davis at the Dec. 15 school board meeting. (Crystal Apilado/Winters Express)

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At its organizational meeting on Dec. 15, the Winters Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees took action to approve new officers and swore in its newest Trustee.

Assistant to the Superintendent Anietta Kelley administered the Oath of Office to Sterling Davis, who was appointed as the newest Area Four Trustee and Trustees Carrie Green and Joedy Michael. Green was the frontrunner in the Nov. 8 General Election and Michael ran unopposed.

Trustees gave recognition to outgoing Area Four Trustee Candi Ochoa. Ochoa was appointed to the seat in January 2021 and was part of the efforts to bring students back to school following the pandemic, and brought her experience as both a parent and an educator to the Board. Superintendent Rody Boonchouy commented that although they did not work together in Winters long, they had experience in the Davis school district, and thanked her for her service.

Ochoa was presented with a plaque to commemorate her time and efforts as a Winters JUSD Trustee.

Trustees unanimously re-elected Green as President and Michael as Board Clerk. Boonchouy was appointed to serve as Board Secretary.

New superintendent
Under his first Superintendent Report, Boonchouy recognized Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Phoebe Girimonte for her work serving as the Acting Superintendent for the five months during the transition to hiring a new Superintendent. He thanked her for her stewardship and leadership, saying “You leave this seat organized and on track so thank you for that.”

Boonchouy reported that he’s been meeting with school leaders, teachers, staff, students, and members of the community while also learning about the school district’s operations.

“Over the past two and a half weeks I’ve been on a whirlwind listening tour downloading Winters into my heart and brain,” Boonchouy said.

“This outreach will be ongoing into the coming months and into infinity and beyond.”

At the start of his administration as superintendent, Boonchouy shared some reflections from his outreach.

“Right out the gate, Winters JUSD is a special place. It has a unique character — a mosaic of its history, traditions, people and personalites, values, expectations, some scars and an overarching disposition of kindness and community,” Boonchouy said.

He noted Winters JUSD has a phenomenal staff and “students who love their teachers and are quite forthcoming and professional about what they would like to see improved.” He paid tribute to the fact that while many schools in California are seeing declining enrollment, Winters is thriving as a town and has many opportunities ahead.

“As I start this role, what I’m trying to do — and I encourage all of us to do — is to view our school district, this organization, as an ecosystem. We have people, initiatives and programs, tools and materials, new things and old things and ways we do business,” Boonchouy said.

One point Boonchouy wanted to stress is “every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets” and “that includes the results we’re proud of or concerned with. If our outcomes are not aligned we need to look at our system.”

On that reflection, Boonchouy said the work goes beyond the surface and the school district would need to take a look at how it operates as a staff and as a community. He listed procedures, systems, culture and more as points of focus and noted there are both pros and cons to being a small school district. But, warned that too many shifts and maneuvers would create organizational fatigue.

“And, no question that there is a lot to celebrate here, and there is also a lot that we’d like to improve. But we will need to prioritize and go slow to go fast,” Boonchouy said. “To ensure that we all own and author a shared vision for our next chapter as a district. That’s more than buy-in, it’s ownership. No one individual has the answers to our challenges, but the answers are here within the community and staff. Our first order of business is to create the space, trust and ability to do that work together.”

Project update
Mary Fitzpatrick, Senior Project Manager with Van Pelt Construction Services, said the Winters High School PE/Music Building project continues to face rain delays. However, with mostly clear skies forecasted, the construction team still plans to finish the project on time.

However, Fitzpatrick said there are concerns regarding the Waggoner Elementary project since the design of the project is still on hold while they “wait to hear about potential forthcoming funding.” She said in the meantime, Studio W would further vet the received estimate costs to pinpoint the pricing differences. And, her team plans to host a committee walk-thru of the Waggoner campus to look at the current conditions and note what is needed going forward.

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