College of the Siskiyous looks to change trustee elections

Sarah Kirby
College of the Siskiyous Communications faculty member Jayne Turk, right, gives her sabbatical leave report to the board of trustees on Sept. 11, 2018 in Weed. Turk conducted research on conflict resolution and win-win communication strategies.

The Siskiyou Joint Community College District discussed changing voting procedures for trustees, life in the College of the Siskiyous lodges, and California College Promise Funds during the Sept. 11 board of trustees regular meeting.

Former board of trustees member Penny Heilman resigned, and the board plans to fill her seat as part of the November general election ballot. Vice President of Instruction Dr. Todd Scott resigned for personal reasons, and COS President Dr. Stephen Schoonmaker will fill the position until an interim Vice President of Instruction is found.

An action item at the meeting involved reexamining how the board of trustees election process works. The board has conducted two out of a possible four hearings to change the system of voting to only allow district residents to vote for that district’s trustee. According to a statement that was available at the board meeting and prepared by the office of the COS President, on August 7, 2018 the board voted to begin moving the district from an “at large” to “by-trustee-area” election.

“Currently, Board Members are elected in biennial elections in 'at large' elections. This means that voters of the entire jurisdiction of the District's total service area, larger than the state of Connecticut, elect members to the Board who only serve a smaller portion of the District in a defined area. Questions from the local community were raised whether the District’s current ‘at-large’ election method complied with the California Voting Rights Act,” according to Board Report No. 5200.

At the previous hearing, a question was asked about cost of changing the elections to this new format. Schoonmaker explained that there would be no budget implications attached to changing voting procedures to this new format. He asked that the board continue onward with changing to this new voting process.

According to Board Report No. 5200, “The purpose of moving from ‘at-large’ to ‘by-trustee-area’ elections is to broaden access to representation of a Trustee’s area by reducing the demands to run a District-wide campaign in such a large and remote District. The California Voting Right Act, enacted in 2010, prohibits an at-large election method when the use of such methodology impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of their choosing, or otherwise influence the outcome of an election by diluting their votes beyond the area a Board Member represents.”

No issues pertaining to changing voting procedures by the board were brought up at the meeting. The board plans to continue with the change.

The Area 1 and Area 2 seats on the board of trustees are both on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election:

For Area 1, the seat Heilman held before her resignation, the two candidates are retired school administrator Leonard Foreman and McCloud Community Services District General Manager Kevin Dalton.

For Area 2, the seat held by Jim Hardy, who is not running for reelection, the two candidates are John Adamson of Mount Shasta and retired biologist Deborah Derby.

Jayne Turk, a faculty member in Communications, gave a report on her sabbatical leave, during which she conducted research on conflict resolution and win-win communication strategies. 

“I need to know what you need out of this situation, and out of our groundwork we can brainstorm ways that we can mutually meet everyone’s needs,” Turk said.

A presentation was given by Doug Haugen who manages COS Student Housing. Haugen had two student lodge resident advisors, Cody Kirby and Emma Furman, share their experience working with students in the dorms. During the presentation, Haugen explained what changes had been made to the dormitories, also known as the Lodges, where students who reside on campus live.

He said the Lodges include 160 residents with 72 bedrooms; 11 are single rooms, 33 are double rooms, and 28 are triple rooms; all are furnished. These areas include two computer labs, and each building is secure with staff on call.

Haugen said the Lodges include wifi, cable TV, billiards, table tennis, and air hockey. They contain laundry facilities and a kitchenette.

Of the 160 residents, 72 are from California, 23 are Siskiyou Promise students, 10 are international students, and 114 are student athletes. There are eight Lodge resident advisors to help keep harmony in the lodges while maintaining students’ safety, Haugen said.

It was announced that the college is working to make it easier for students on campus who qualify for CalFresh benefits to receive aid more quickly. Many of the board members were excited about this news, and Schoonmaker asked about obtaining benefits that would allow students to use their benefits at the COS cafeteria.

Another board item for discussion was the declaration that COS has been awarded California College Promise Funds. This money will provide the college with a way to provide scholarships to non-traditional students.

The board unanimously accepted the board 2017-2018 Self-Evaluation and 2018-2019 goals that they compiled during their annual retreat last month.

COS is scheduled to celebrate 50 years of its football program at the Weed campus Sept. 21-22. The events, which are part of the COS Foundation and Athletic Department, will include a Friday welcome event in the theatre with memories and highlights from previous coaches and staff. On Saturday, a tailgate party will accompany the COS home football game vs. Chabot College.  

Associate Vice President of Human Resources Theresa Richmond reported on staff retirements: Grants Development Analyst Karen Tedsen will retire Dec. 28. Lorinda Meyer, Program Grant Manager for Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation, retired on Aug. 31. Long-time geology instructor Bill Hirt will retire Dec. 31. Richmond said Hirt will especially be missed after his long tenure at COS.