Sale of land for school in Somer­ton set to close to­day

Su­per­in­ten­dant Badone pre­sented with plaque at fi­nal board meet­ing

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE - BY AMY CRAW­FORD SUN STAFF WRITER

With the sign­ing of a lease agree­ment at Wed­nes­day’s gov­ern­ing board meet­ing, Somer­ton High School took an­other step closer to re­al­ity.

The pur­chase of 76.11 acres, which has been in es­crow since July, is ex­pected to go through Thurs­day, said Phil Townsend, YUHSD gov­ern­ing board pres­i­dent af­ter the meet­ing. The pur­chase price is $2,740,219.20.

Be­fore the board ac­quired the prop­erty, the cur­rent ten­ant, Na­ture Fresh Farms, LLC, had asked that the district for­mally as­sume the lease, which it did at Wed­nes­day night’s meet­ing on a unan­i­mous vote.

The board also voted against waiv­ing a re­cruit­ment fee against two teach­ers, which has been a con­tentious point for the board since its June 28 meet­ing.

Board mem­ber David Lara was the sole vote in fa­vor of waiv­ing the re­cruit­ment fee against the two teach­ers, whose cases were part of Wed­nes­day’s agenda.

Maria Aguiniga, one of the pe­ti­tion­ers, said dur­ing the call to the pub­lic that she felt that she and oth­ers who had asked for the fee to be waived were be­ing used as a “scape­goat.” Aguiniga noted that the board’s de­ci­sion at its Au­gust meet­ing to al­low the su­per­in­ten­dent to ap­point a per­son to de­cide whether to waive the fee lacked proper checks and bal­ances, she said in pre­pared re­marks read at the meet­ing and shared with the Yuma Sun.

Board mem­ber David Lara said that he would like to see “a friendly en­vi­ron­ment to­wards teach­ers who are un­der­paid,” while ex­press­ing that the district should be open-minded about teach­ers who leave and then re­turn.

“While I’m sym­pa­thetic, and I think we’ve had this dis­cus­sion sev­eral times,

there are rea­sons we have con­tracts. if we don’t en­force our con­tracts then there’s no rea­son to have them,” Townsend said. Board mem­bers Shel­ley Mel­lon, Bruce Gwynn and Teri Brooks did not com­ment.

Lara be­gan to say that a sim­i­lar re­cruit­ment fee clause should be added to the next su­per­in­ten­dent’s con­tract, but was called out of or­der by Townsend. Both mo­tions failed on votes of 1-4.

The district’s Col­lege and Ca­reer Readi­ness In­di­ca­tors group was rec­og­nized by As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent Gina Thompson. The in­di­ca­tors will be a fac­tor in the state’s new A-F Ac­count­abil­ity Mea­sures that are be­ing re­viewed by the state board of ed­u­ca­tion.

Dur­ing the re­ports por­tion of the agenda, Lara brought up the topic of chil­dren who are dual cit­i­zens of Mex­ico and the U.S. be­ing ex­ploited by drug traf­fick­ers as they cross the bor­der to at­tend school in the U.S. Lara claimed that the Mex­i­can equiv­a­lent of the FBI has been track­ing the oc­cur­rences, and that lo­cal school dis­tricts should get in­volved.

“We have to do some­thing about it,” he said. “I think we should not look the other way.”

Hu­man Re­sources Di­rec­tor Wanda El­lis gave a re­port on the num­ber of open po­si­tions the district still has. In March, the district had 55.4 open­ings. At the end of the school year the district had lost 96 teach­ers. As of Sept. 1, there were 39 emer­gency subs, 15 longterm subs, and 100 teach­ers us­ing their plan­ning pe­ri­ods to teach a class. The district has 35 open­ings for teach­ers.

The start of school re­port showed that en­roll­ment was up across nearly ev­ery sin­gle one of the district’s cam­puses ex­cept Ci­bola and Vista. Su­per­in­ten­dent Toni Badone said that YUHSD’s part­ner el­e­men­tary dis­tricts were see­ing a sim­i­lar trend.

Badone, who was at­tend­ing her fi­nal reg­u­lar board meet­ing, was al­lowed out of her con­tract at the end of July, when she an­nounced that she was re­tir­ing from the district to take the helm of AD­VANCED’s Ari­zona of­fice.

Badone ac­cepted a glass plaque from board mem­bers, who thanked her for her 33 years of ser­vice to the district. Badone started teach­ing in her na­tive state of Ohio be­fore mov­ing West to teach at Crane Ju­nior High. She started with Yuma Union in 1984 teach­ing English at Kofa High.

“First of all, I want to thank all of you. You all rep­re­sent so much to me. Yuma will al­ways mean so much to me,” she said be­fore a small re­cep­tion. “Yuma will al­ways be the home where I grew up as an adult and I’ll still call it home for a while.”

Badone was pre­sented with a con­struc­tion belt from lo­cal ar­chi­tec­ture and con­struc­tion groups, hand­made art­work from Holly Hen­dricks-Jones and other con­grat­u­la­tory re­marks.

“It’s been a to­tal honor and a priv­i­lege to be your su­per­in­ten­dent, but be­fore that I was a teacher,” she said. “We’re all teach­ers even if you don’t have the ti­tle of teacher, that piece is the most im­por­tant piece.”

Buy this photo at Yu­maSun.com PHOTO BY AMY CRAW­FORD/YUMA SUN

TONI BADONE, WHO WAS at­tend­ing her last reg­u­lar board meet­ing, shows off a glass plaque thank­ing her for her 33 years of ser­vice to the district.

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