It was a light and breezy meeting, an easy introduction for the newest member of the Modesto City Schools Board, student Michala Wyrsch.
The Gregori senior said she hopes to bring teens' concerns to the board and represent their views. "I think just knowing that all the students in high school have a voice and their opinions matter," Wyrsch said before the meeting.
She arranged her four Advanced Placement classes and art class to have first period free to visit leadership classes at the district's seven comprehensive high schools and to participate in Inter-High meetings to get that input.
Last year, the Gregori stadium and the Enochs pool were high-
interest issues, Wyrsch said.
Board members said they value that student voice.
"There are times when I feel their input is the most important that we get at a meeting," Sue Zwahlen said.
Board President Nancy Cline said she enjoys when the student board member gets behind a cause. "Their perspective is so fresh. They're right there in the trenches," she said.
Student board members can make motions and give advisory votes on all matters except personnel actions.
In roll call votes Monday night, however, Wyrsch's name was not called. The roll calls were needed because board member Amy Neumann took part via phone from vacation in Oregon.
Trustees voted unanimously to approve a $448,000 contract with the Modesto Police Department to provide four school resource officers who will divide their time between junior high and high schools in the district.
Next month, the board will consider creation of a school district security force, said board member Steve Grenbeaux. "We will be looking at providing our own security and having our own police department," he said, calling the police contract "hopefully a stopgap measure."
Board member Rubén Villalobos spoke in favor of police resource officers. "I know these officers, and these are people who care very much for their schools," he said.
A four-year extension of Superintendent Pam Able's contract was approved on a 5 to 2 vote, with Neumann and Cindy Marks dissenting.
All three bargaining units stood to support the extension, saying Able had been easy to work with and they agreed with her vision for the future. The contract keeps compensation the same, $225,000 a year plus a $4,200 stipend.
Neumann, commenting via phone, said the contract had not expired, so did not need to be extended at this time, and a four-year contract was unprecedented in the history of the district. "While I am in favor of Mrs. Able, I'm voting no on this contract," she said.
Board Vice President Cindy Marks said in light of the 2012 decline in test scores she could not support a four-year extension.