Sonora High

The Sonora Union High School District approved the appointment of a temporary business consultant to fill the place of former Chief Business Official Dana Vaccarezza, who resigned last month to take a position with the Manteca Unified School District. 

"I enjoyed working with her a lot. I thought she was very well respected in the county and I think she was known as a budget expert when it came to business officials in Tuolumne County," said Superintendent Mark Miller. “The fact that she had an accounting background, we could trust her numbers as being correct. It was huge in the effort to make decisions and it allowed the district to at least recover, at least get back to the point where we put back the pieces."

Vaccarezza was previously the business manager at the Tuolumne County Community Resources Agency and was hired in January 2017 under Superintendent Pat Chabot following the departure of former Chief Business Official Kim Burr. 

Miller said she tendered her resignation approximately three weeks ago and her last day was on March 31.

"She just decided to take a position in a larger district that had the potential to give her better compensation and more responsibility at some point," Miller said. 

The board unanimously approved the temporary hiring of Kenneth Duane Wolgamott following a closed session during a special session on Thursday afternoon. 

Wolgamott was hired for the period between March 31 and June 30. He will be paid at a rate of $75 an hour for onsite work and $50 an hour for offsite work, not to exceed $25,000.

Wolgamott was left with a budget that remains in the positive, according to the second interim budget which was presented by Vaccarezza during her final meeting on March 10, Miller said.

"Given this crisis we're in right now, the second interim and the May revise are going to be pretty big pieces," Miller said.

The budget shows revenues of approximately $14.9 million and expenditures of $16.9 million.

"The District's 2019-20 Second Interim Budget and MYP [multi-year projection] reflects reserves at 13.64 percent for 2019-20, 9.43 percent for 2020-21 and 5.67 percent for 2021-22," the second interim budget said.

The budget goes on to acknowledge the district is deficit spending and is utilizing fund balance reserves to meet its expenditures. 

"One of the things you have to do as a superintendent, you have to trust that the numbers your chief business official are giving you are right," Miller said. "But I think everybody understands in the long run those numbers are not sustainable."

Miller commended Vaccarezza for bringing the district out of a negative certification and a fiscal crisis before her hiring, when the district did not meet the state minimum requirement of a 4 percent reserve within the multi-year projection. 

The eventual fiscal recovery plan required thousands in cuts, including layoffs, which eventually brought the budget into positive certification.

The meeting on Thursday was streamed and three of the board members, Erik Andal, Kimberly Norton and Nancy Scott, participated remotely. Miller, Jeanie Smith and Jim Riggs were present in the board conference room and appeared to maintain proper social distancing. 

The board passed an emergency resolution related to the coronavirus crisis which directed expectations to staff and students over the next eight weeks before the close of the school year.

Miller said he sent a letter out to students and staff, which he read into the record during the meeting. 

"Teachers are going to teach, students are going to learn and teachers are going to give students feedback on how they are going to meet standards," Miller said.

Miller said the campus was continuing to commit to feeding students and doing "everything we can to slow the progress of this disease by social distancing, good hygiene and practicing home isolation."

"This virus is not the students' fault, so it is wrong for them to be penalized in the resulting outcome. Whatever we do needs to do no harm to students," Miller said.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or Follow him on Twitter @g_ricapito 


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