Riverbank Unified board now at full strength, all-female, majority Latina

03/26/2014 7:40 PM

03/26/2014 7:42 PM

Ana Vigil will join the Riverbank Unified School District board, bringing the now all-female panel to full strength after two resignations.

Vigil, 37, is a lifelong Riverbank resident who attended local schools and works as assistant treasurer at the Modesto Irrigation District. She has no children of her own, but she wants to give back, Vigil said Wednesday. “I have close ties to all the schools. It’s a passion of mine to work and do whatever I can to help.”

She’s still learning the intricacies of school finance, Vigil said, “but we have to prioritize and use everything we have to do the best for our students.”

The board appointed Vigil, the only applicant noted on the agenda, on Saturday to fill the vacancy left by longtime board member John Mitchell, who resigned at the end of February. Her swearing-in is set for the May 6 board meeting.

Riverbank parent Connie Gilbert was appointed Feb. 11 to fill the seat of Steve Walker, who resigned at year’s end. Both seats will be up for election in November 2015.

“I look forward to working with an all-ladies board and I welcome Ana Vigil. As a former student in the Riverbank Unified School District, she has the firsthand knowledge of what it is like growing up with what is needed to better serve the children,” Gilbert said by email. “My hope is that we can move forward from what the former board had to endure and together look to better serve the children of the district.”

Riverbank Unified’s previous board struggled to pass even routine approvals and required reports, at one point nearly costing the district its authority to issue paychecks. It and Denair Unified, now under a budget recovery plan, are the only districts in Stanislaus County not projecting that they can meet required reserve levels over the next three years.

The district will not lay off teachers for 2014-15 but is offering up to two years of retirement credit to teachers who agree to retire this year, said Superintendent Daryl Camp.

Board President Elizabeth Meza said Vigil holds a master’s degree and, like Gilbert, is bilingual. Nearly four in five Riverbank students are Latino, and the appointments bring the board to a Latina majority, three of the five, as well.

“I am looking forward to having a full board. We will be able to conduct business full steam ahead,” Meza said. “I am looking forward to the variety of points of view to be expressed in a professional manner. Even though we share one – OK, two – things in common: being a woman and a love for our community, each member has a passion and an individual point of view.”

Meza noted everyone on the board has a bachelor’s degree or better, with a mix of professions and ages. “It will be a pleasure to serve along some great, educated women. I look forward to the diverse points of view and the ability to find a solution,” she said.

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