Ukiah Unified School District

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The Power of Partnership, Innovation and Learning

School Desk: Be part of something that matters

Nobody ran for Trustee Area 6 in the November 2022 election, so Ukiah Unified Trustees intend to appoint someone to the Board. I am seeking help finding the right community member for this crucial position.

A school board member’s primary responsibilities include working with the community to establish policies, curriculum, and the budget, overseeing facilities, adopting collective bargaining agreements, and employing the superintendent. School boards derive their authority from the state and must comply with state and federal laws, and school boards establish policies and regulations by which their local schools are governed. Simply stated, school boards look out for students. They ensure that kids get the best education possible by influencing policies and where taxpayer money is spent. 

If this sounds like you, please get involved! If someone you know would make a great board member, urge them to get involved. Click here for an application and more information about Trustee Area 6. Interested individuals who are registered voters residing in Trustee Area 6 may also pick up an application by calling or writing to Debbie Ornelas, Office of the Superintendent and Board of Trustees, at 707.472.5002, 511. S. Orchard Ave., Ukiah, CA 95482.

Ukiah Unified Trustee president Zoey Fernandez was kind enough to volunteer for a quick interview about what it’s like to be on the school board and what she sees as the best things about her experience as a Ukiah Unified Trustee.

Q: Why would someone want to be on the school board?

A: It's fulfilling to know that you're helping the children in our community. For me, that's the reason I do it. And you get to work with great people: great board members, excellent administration, and fantastic staff. The District has a lot of really dedicated, caring, and inspirational people. It feels good to be part of something that matters. Working with the school district and the education we provide for this community is vital work. Knowing that you are part of that and that you are a volunteer putting in your time and energy because you believe in the community and the children are what it’s all about. 

Q: Does being on the school board take a lot of time?

A: It depends. You can put as much or as little into it as you want; it’s entirely up to you. You can be really engaged, or you can be less engaged, depending on your schedule. There're standing board meetings every month or sometimes more frequently, which require you to read the board packet information beforehand. There are committees, and depending on which ones you are on, you could meet frequently or not very often. We regularly have the opportunity to visit school sites, there are opportunities to meet with Superintendent Kubin, and you can attend events like the student of the month ceremony and open houses. 

The workload changes throughout the year; some times are busier than others. Occasionally, you might need to attend more meetings than usual if something is pressing or there’s a pending deadline, but it's not overwhelming; it’s always manageable. 

Q: What if I don’t understand school budgets?

A: Budgets can be foreign to many. If you have questions about the finances and the budget, there are great people to help you understand. No one should think they're not qualified. As long as you are dedicated to the children in our community and care about their educational opportunities, anyone is qualified. You have to have an open mind, be willing to learn, be ready to put in some hard work along the way, and care about the direction of our District.

Q: What do you like about serving as a Trustee?

A: I love visiting the schools! So much of our work is not at the sites, so it’s lovely to visit schools and see the kids, see the learning, and hear what's happening. It's fantastic to see the things you've heard about in Board meetings happening in person. Graduations are my favorite events! It’s very touching to go to the graduations and see the success of our students. Whether the program is middle school promotion, high school graduation, LVN Graduation, or the Community Transition Program, graduations and promotions are special.

Q: Why did you decide to get involved?

A: It is an important job and an essential service for our community. I looked around, and not many were lining up to get involved, so I realized I needed to. I was a full-time Kindergarten teacher before I had kids, taught part-time, had friends who were on the Board, and I realized it was my turn to step up. People have a variety of skills, and we need all of them. As long as you want to learn and help our students and do what’s best for local education, you’re the right person.