Board approves pursuing conditional offer of employment for Segura
Sue Segura, left, addresses the audience just before the school board is set to announce its decision to “pursue a conditional offer of employment” with her. School district board members Sonja Anderson, Leslie Edlund, Bob Tuerck and president Chris Russell joined superintendent Micheline Miglis after a 4-1/2-hour closed session April 18 in Quincy. Photo by Laura Beaton
Quincy High School’s principal, Dr. Sue Segura, could be back on the job next year.
Segura was told the school board would pursue a conditional offer of employment with her at its special board meeting April 18.
After 4-1/2 hours in closed session, the Plumas Unified School District board reconvened and announced it had taken action.
Previous to the announcement at 10:45 p.m., Segura addressed the audience of about 40 diehard supporters, asking them to remain silent regardless of the board’s decision.
President Chris Russell read the board’s statement: “After additional consideration and significant deliberation, the governing board took action by a vote of 4 to 1 to pursue a conditional offer of employment to Dr. Sue Segura.”
The school board and Segura declined to explain the conditions associated with the offer.
The board adjourned its meeting immediately following the announcement.
The audience filed out of Pioneer-Quincy Elementary School silently, heeding Segura’s request.
Segura released a statement in the school’s weekly newsletter sent Friday, April 19.
It read, “I look forward to working as a team with the Superintendent and the Board. As we go forward, the importance is everyone working in the same direction for our kids of Plumas County. Thanks for your continual support of education throughout our community and district.”
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Lack of confidence
Segura’s contract was not renewed in early March. The board cited a lack of confidence in Segura, whom supporters said raised test scores, instilled respectful behavior, enforced the dress code, created advanced placement (AP) classes and revitalized the vocational education program.
After learning March 8 that her contract would not be renewed, a community outpouring of support for Segura resulted in a bombardment of the school board and superintendent with letters, phone calls and emails requesting that she be reinstated.
Three speakers addressed the board earlier during the Thursday night special meeting public comment period.
The first speaker, Quincy High School science teacher Rob Gimbel, told the board that he appreciated its actions regarding the initial decision not to rehire Segura. Gimbel said Segura had been responsible for six qualified special education teachers losing their jobs or relocating.
Frank Carey, head custodian at Pioneer-Quincy Elementary School, told the board he was there to dispel three rumors about his family. Lastly, Quincy High student Tanner McKay praised Segura and asked the board to reinstate her.
What happens next remains to be seen, but Segura said she remains passionate about her job.
J.C. Eaglesmith litigation
Also on the April 18 agenda was the ongoing litigation with former Quincy High School basketball coach and Quincy Opportunity School teacher J.C. Eaglesmith.
Eaglesmith, who is an American Indian, was suing the school district for racial discrimination.
Eaglesmith’s lawyer, Peter Haberfeld, reported April 19 that Eaglesmith reached a settlement agreement with the district Tuesday, April 16, during a settlement conference with federal court Judge Allison Claire.
Haberfeld said, “We are very pleased to have settled the case.” He noted that the documents have not been signed yet, and said that would likely happen sometime in June after several more meetings.
Haberfeld said he couldn’t speculate about what was going on with the other side, but detected a determination to resolve problems and move forward.
On April 19, Eaglesmith said of the settlement agreement, “I am very pleased with the outcome.” He added that he would like to dispel the misinformation going around that his case is costing the district money.
“It’s not costing children anything,” Eaglesmith said. “It’s all being handled through insurance.”
Eaglesmith declined to discuss the terms of the settlement, saying it would not be appropriate until “the ink dries.”
Although the litigation was on the board’s agenda for closed session discussion, the board did not report any action after its closed session.
Minimum fund balance resolution
Plumas County Teachers’ Association president Ron Logan, staunch supporter of dipping into the district’s large reserve fund, addressed the board during its discussion on amending its policy on the minimum fund balance, or reserve.
Logan has asked the board to re-evaluate its priorities and to adjust its budget to better support teachers and students.
Business Director Yvonne Bales gave a presentation on criteria involved in establishing a minimum fund balance.
Several years ago, the board adopted its current minimum fund balance of approximately $12 million. This figure is much higher than the state mandated reserve for economic uncertainties of 3 percent of the annual budget.
Bales reviewed risk factors that might influence a district’s minimum fund balance, such as declining enrollment, deferred payments, debt service, restricted funds, basic aid status, deficit spending and other circumstances that PUSD faces.
The district’s second interim budget is about $25 million. Three percent of that amounts to approximately $750,000.
On top of that, the district needs to establish a minimum fund balance for planned and unplanned financial challenges. For instance, a new boiler system is needed and will cost the district about $2 million.
The district’s projected end-of-year reserve is $8.7 million, more than 10 times greater than the state requires. Bales reported the statewide average reserve level for unified districts is 15.44 percent.
After much discussion by the board, it agreed to a minimum fund balance of 17.5 percent, with a minimum floor of $3 million.
The board asked the superintendent to revise the resolution and bring it to the May meeting for review and approval.
The next scheduled board meeting will be held May 2, at 5 p.m. at Chester High School.