Wednesday, December 17, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Harris bows out as school board trustee by recommending some changes

Cathy Haskell, left, Dorrie Sobottka and Frank Thomsen talk with Richard Harris after his final Davis school board meeting Thursday. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | December 07, 2012 |

Retiring school board trustee Richard Harris — who led the campaign to pass the Measure E school parcel tax in November rather than run for re-election — took part in his final board meeting as a trustee on Thursday night. And as he bowed out, he cited some achievements, acknowledged a few disappointments and offered a bit of advice to his fellow trustees and the community.

Harris acknowledged that when he proposed Measure E earlier this year — it was the second parcel tax that the school board asked local voters to approve in 2012 — there were some political observes who wondered what the heck he was doing.

At the time, Harris described Measure E as a “Hail Mary pass” to sustain school district funding at its 2012 level. And in the end, Measure E racked up a 69 percent majority vote on Nov. 6.

Harris acknowledged a list of volunteers who helped put Measure E over the top, and he praised local voters for approving school parcel taxes again and again in recent years, allowing the Davis school district to make fewer cuts to classroom programs than other school districts as state funding for education was slashed.

“But Measure E was about maintaining, not about adding on,” Harris said. “Maintaining is not excellence. The status quo is not good enough.”

Harris said it’s time for the Davis school board “to have a community conversation and look at everything — facilities, programs … maybe schools that serve grades K-8 and a four-year high school, maybe lower class sizes for elementary kids. There is a heck of a conversation that needs to be had with the community” about how schools should be organized in coming years. “Think big,” Harris urged.

Harris also noted that he ran for the school board in 2007 as a “green schools” advocate, and that there are now electricity-producing solar panel arrays at Korematsu Elementary, Harper Junior High and Davis High schools. Harris said that many people, including school board trustee Sheila Allen, had worked to make this happen, and he urged the school board to keep pursuing “green” projects at other schools.

Harris said that his “biggest disappointment” was the reduction in career technical education classes during his  years as a trustee. “Parents are afraid of letting their kids take shop classes, so the demand is less,” and state budget cuts forced the  district to drop some CTE classes that Harris would like to have maintained. “We have taken a tool out of out the (educational) toolbox,” he lamented.

He also urged the school district to pursue construction of a new multi-story building at the site of the current school district offices in downtown Davis, with retail space on the ground floor, and school district offices and some residential units upstairs. Such a building could generate an ongoing stream of lease revenue for the district, he said.

Harris proposed that a semester of music be made a graduation requirement at the high school level, saying that students would benefit. He also urged the school district to pursue more up-to-date technology, acknowledging that many of the district’s computer systems are 10 years old and largely obsolete.

Harris received accolades from his fellow trustees, from Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza (a former school board trustee); representatives of State Sen. Lois Wolk and Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada; Davis city council members Lucas Frerichs and Dan Wolk; and community members Norb Kumagai, Hiram Jackson, Bob Blattner and others.

Several speakers noted the sometimes crusty sense of humor that Harris displayed on many occasions — indeed, his fondness for spontaneous one-liners sometimes got Harris into  hot water. “You introduced a real sense of humor to the school board,” said Provenza, adding (in jest) “If you want to write some jokes for the Board of Supervisors …”

“I’m not going away,” Harris said. “I like public comment. I’ll still be here every once in a while.”

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Million Cat Challenge aims to rescue shelter felines

    By Pat Bailey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Everest visit fulfills judge’s lifelong dream

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Supervisors remove Saylor from First 5 Yolo Commission

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

    GPAS and test scores up for UCD’s newest undergrads

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A1

     
    Fatal Capay crash leads to driver’s arrest

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    U.S., Cuba seek to normalize relations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Water officials fret over rain’s effects

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Bob Dunning: Not enough hours in the month

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

     
    Donate to STEAC at Original Steve’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Beer and film tour boosts bike group’s coffers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Yolo Crisis Nursery in full swing

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Creative women share food, friendship

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Traditional carols service is Saturday at St. Martin’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Have coffee with the mayor on Friday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Stockings brighten holidays for special kids

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Evening tai chi classes start Jan. 6

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Overeaters get support at meetings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Fibro Friends will update their journals

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Input sought on county’s facility needs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Name Droppers: Law prof earns peace prize for nonfiction

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Community menorah lighting set Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Latest immunization data shows little improvement locally

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A5

    School board will vote on repairs, new portables

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A6

     
    Study: National monument could boost local economy

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Parent/toddler art and music program offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Libraries will be closed around the holidays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Cloudy — yet safe — tap water adds to negative health effects

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Round up at the registers for Patwin

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    .

    Forum

    This ought to teach her love

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Many thanks to The Avid Reader

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Language failed me that night, but not now

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A8

     
    Steve Sack cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

    Grand jury function clarified

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Defying Western academic norms

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Boycotters are our future profs

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Sports

    UCD reveals a challenging softball schedule

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Tumey talks about state of Aggie athletics, where they’re headed

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Davis gets Rio Linda as Curry Invitational starts Thursday

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Former Aggie Descalso inks deal with Colorado

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8

     
    Westbrook, Durant lead Thunder past Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    Some vegetables just can’t be beet

    By Julie Cross | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6