Board of Trustees update: A look at the coming year

Lili Hakimi

On Dec. 13, the Tamalpais Union High School District’s (TUHSD) Board of Trustees convened for the last meeting of the calendar year. The Board chose Leslie Harlander, sitting board member, as clerk. Additionally, the Board nominated and re-elected sitting president Karen Loebbaka for another term, the next two years. 

The Board also approved the 2023-2024 trustee meeting calendar, and will continue to meet bimonthly, opting not to meet in July due to summer break. To view the schedule for the Board of Trustees calendar for 2023 click here.

During the meeting, Harlander, the Board’s new clerk, stressed the need for reconsidering the involvement of compromised community members, given that the Board seriously takes public comment into consideration before voting on any issue. Harlander mentioned that continuing to use a platform like Zoom would serve to boost community engagement. Loebbaka also commented on the importance of enabling the public to engage with the Board via Zoom. 

“Although Board meetings are more business done in public, the public should be able to hear what’s going on, ask questions and comment. As elected officials, we ask the people to invest in us and when we get elected, we owe them the opportunity to engage with us and ask the questions, and challenge us,” Loebbaka said. “It gives us an opportunity to explain our thinking and our processes to a whole district and community.” 

In order to ensure inclusion of all community members, the Board will reconsider streaming future meetings over Zoom at the next meeting on Jan. 10, 2023.

Tara Taupier, district superintendent, also provided an update on the Brown Act. The Brown Act guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies. Section AB 361 of the act allowed Board members to teleconference into meetings due to the California State of Emergency implemented in response to the pandemic. 

However, the California State of Emergency ends Feb. 28, 2023, altering criteria to continue to teleconference into meetings. Individual Board members may teleconference into meetings without disclosing their location or making that location available to the public if the Board member has a “just” cause or emergency circumstances, and notify the Board at the earliest possible time. To read more about the Brown Act, click here.

The Board also approved the 2022-2023 first Interim Budget report. The trustees discussed and approved working with Sage Energy in terms of authorizing the pursuit of Solar Canopy and Electric Vehicle car-charging projects at Tamalpais (Tam), Redwood and Archie Williams.

Given the recent bomb threat at Tam, the implementation of the new app Share911 was also discussed during the meeting. The app allows teachers to communicate effectively in everyday and emergency situations without using the Public Announcement (PA) system. Taupier praised the effectiveness of the Share911 app in dealing with the bomb threat at Tam as well as the Mill Valley police department, the Berkely’s police’s bomb squad and the several other agencies involved in handling the crisis.

Listening intently to public comment, the Board works to form an understanding of the current needs of the community.

Looking into the coming year, four year Board member Cynthia Roenisch, who is currently on her second term, outlined the Board’s goals in the 2023 calendar year. 

“[The goals of the Board are] continued recovery from COVID and the learning disruptions that occurred, as well as doing work around improving the inclusivity and safety in our community,” Roenisch said. 

Loebbaka also outlined the direction she plans to take the Board in during her next term. Moving into 2023, Loebbaka hopes to carry on with the sense of camaraderie on the Board.

 “I want to continue collaboration, so that we are making sure that we are listening to each other’s opinions and positions on items,” Loebbaka said. “We are working closely and well with the superintendent, particularly around issues of racial equity and justice.”