School board appointment renews rumors of recall in West County

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The West Sonoma County Union High School board of directors appointed Patrick Nagle, a resident of Sevastopol, as the new administrator in a special meeting on Wednesday evening.

Nagle, who briefly attended Analy High School and now works as a sales manager for Mission Foods in Santa Rosa, was sworn in immediately after three of four board members voted to appoint him to a vacant position. by another board member in July. His term of office runs until 2024.

“I really believe I can help bring the community together,” Nagle said. “I think I have the ability to listen and work with all kinds of different people.”

Few attended the in-person meeting on Wednesday, but residents of West County tune in through the school district’s YouTube channel, sharing their opinions on social media. Several Far West County residents, including Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, expressed unease and anger over Nagle’s appointment, citing that all other board members are also from the area. of Sevastopol and stating that Nagle supports the controversial consolidation of Analy and El Molino high schools. year.

“An opportunity for geographic representation was missed tonight,” Hopkins said in a Facebook post. “Worse yet, an opportunity to bring the community together by empowering a rural voice on the board has been missed. The result is an aggravation of the pain and frustration already felt by many rural families. “

The group that unsuccessfully attempted to recall three school board members earlier this year said in a statement that it is “considering steps necessary to circulate a recall petition to remove Patrick Nagle from his post.”

Nagle said he was “disappointed” to hear about his recall within hours of his appointment.

“I have not had the opportunity to prove whether or not I represent their interests,” he said. “I understand that I don’t live there, but that doesn’t mean I won’t stand up for all children equally and take their concerns seriously. “

Nagle, who spent six years growing up in county-provided housing in Gualala while his father worked for the Sonoma Sheriff’s Office, said he could understand the perspectives of residents of the Far West County, although he now lives in Sevastopol.

“I understand West County, I never left West County except when I was in the military,” he said.

But representation for the more remote areas of the district, by a current resident, continues to be a sticking point. The school board is moving from a general model to a trustee zone composition and is working with a demographer to determine the boundaries over the next few months.

Julie Aiello, the only director to vote against Nagle’s nomination, raised this concern ahead of the vote.

“I am concerned about equal representation,” she said. “Not that anyone can’t represent all areas. It’s entirely possible. However, I think the perception of equal representation is also important. “

Steve Griffith, a Forestville resident and parent of two El Molino alumni, was the only candidate from a waterfront community to apply for the open seat. William Olzman, a former teacher at El Molino and Anal, also applied. He is a resident of Sevastopol.

The school board interviewed the three men in a round robin format, asking the same five questions of each.

Vice-chairwoman Jeanne Fernandes, who appointed Nagle after the talks ended, said her experience working with budgets was an important asset.

“I just felt that was really a huge benefit to our district, (that) being… one of our biggest issues – our budget,” she said.

Nagle confirmed that although he was a member of the Superintendent’s Budget Committee last year, he came to support the idea of ​​consolidating the two high schools. Consolidation was proposed last year as a potential solution to the district’s projected $ 1.2 million structural deficit.

“I looked at him saying that maybe we could get through the 2021-22 school year without consolidating, but it might do more damage to go down that route than if we just go ahead and consolidate.” Nagle said. He wanted to make sure that programs like music and theater weren’t cut, he said.

This prospect, however, is a breaking point for some residents who still aim to restore El Molino in the future.

Canceling a board appointment requires far fewer signatures than recalling an elected member: organizers would need to collect 541 signatures in 30 days to remove Nagle and trigger a special election, according to Deva Proto, clerk of the county and registrar of electors. The cost to the district for this election could range from $ 90,000 to $ 162,500.

For now, Nagle and some of his detractors are planning to meet and talk about things. He said he hopes those conversations will lead to an agreement to work together rather than running to ask for a recall.

“I will answer questions. I’m not the type to dodge or talk about it, ”he said. “I’m not trying to do anything other than what’s best for the kids.”

You can reach Editor-in-Chief Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or [email protected] On Twitter @ka_tornay.


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