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SRVUSD opts for temporary appointment to fill pending board vacancy

Board is now accepting applications to replace outgoing member Jennison

The San Ramon Valley school board has decided to begin a search for a provisional replacement to serve out the remainder of the term of board member Denise Jennison, who is stepping down later this month.

The board voted 3-0 Tuesday night to begin the search for an interim board member rather than pursue a special election or move forward with four members until the November general election -- with Jennison and board president Ken Mintz absent from the meeting.

The district is now accepting board applications until May 29. If all goes according to plan, the board will be back up to having a full five members by June 4, with the new appointee's term to expire in December.

"I’m not really in favor of continuing with four because I like as many perspectives as I can get," board member Mark Jewett said. "I think it (will) lend more credibility and more transparency to have five when we vote on some of the very important issues that are coming up."

The board could have left Jennison's seat open for the remainder of her six-month term, but were in agreement that maintaining full strength enabled the board to serve the district in the most efficient way possible.

"There is also the very valid point that I think more people who might not ever consider running for election might come forward (for the provisional appointment) because it is a little less vulnerable of a process," board vice president Rachel Hurd said. "We might be casting a broader net for really good applicants, because jumping right into general elections is a tough thing to do."

The board also could have launched a special election to fill the seat, but were in agreement that it would not be a very practical way to find a six-month replacement, costing time and finances the district could better spend elsewhere.

"I don’t really see the practicality of going through an election when we are going to have to have that candidate run again very shortly, that would cost the district a tremendous amount of resources," Jewett said.

The provisional appointee will serve on the board until the term expires in December. Before the general election in November, they can either choose to step down at the term's end or try to win a full four-year term at the polls.

"This is not a position for the faint of heart, it is not a position in which your family does not sacrifice," cautioned board member Greg Marvel. "It's something you need to think seriously about and I don’t want someone to jump in without having a lot of thought and discussion about it with his or her family."

A subcommittee, including Mintz and Hurd as members, will be formed to sort through candidates and will present the board with qualified applicants by June 1.

"It goes without saying Denise will be leaving a very large space," Hurd said of Jennison. "She is a dear, dear friend as well as a very respected colleague and it is really very hard to picture (the board) without her."

Jennison will step down from her position on May 23 for undisclosed personal reasons after serving nearly eight years as a member.

In other business

* Board members held a moment of silence for the San Ramon Valley High School freshman who drowned on school property Tuesday afternoon.

* A baker's dozen worth of school nurses and their supporters overtook the public comment section in order to inform the board of the massive shortage of qualified school nurses in the district. Nurses and parents both pleaded with the board to increase funding for the hiring of more qualified nurses to treat the district's many students.

One nurse explained that she is responsible for over 5,000 students at any given time during the week, which she said is a 61% increase from 2001.

* The board recognized Wednesday as Teacher Appreciation Day in California, a day dedicated to honoring teachers who help mold the community's youth.

* Winners of the SRVUSD Community Advisory Committee’s fourth annual Bright Lights Awards were announced. The Bright Lights Awards are designed to honor educators who have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact in the lives of students receiving special education services.

The committee ended up awarding 14 educators for their contributions out of the 141 who were nominated.

* The board postponed its discussion on potentially increases the district's Level 1 school facilities fees.

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