In a unanimous vote at their Dec. 16 meeting, members of the Galt Joint Union High School District (GJUHSD) Board of Trustees approved resolution 2122-11 stating the district’s position regarding personal belief exemptions related to the COVID-19 school vaccine mandate. The vote came after the trustees chose to leave their board positions the same as they were for the 2021 calendar year.

Keeping Trustee Melissa Neuburger at the helm, the board agreed to keep Trustee Mark Beck as board clerk. Beck would run meetings if Neuburger should be absent from a meeting.

“I think things have been going well,” Trustee Terry Parker said as she opened the discussion regarding board positions.

As far as committee participation, trustees chose to keep those the same as well. Beck and Neuburger will continue on the JPA Committee, which governs over shared property tax revenue with the elementary school district; Trustee Pat Maple and Beck will continue on the Construction Oversight Committee; and Trustee Dennis Richardson will continue on the Transportation Committee with Maple.

Although regular meetings will continue to start at 6 p.m. for the public, trustees changed the meeting day to the second Thursday of each month.

Trustees unanimously passed resolution 2122-11 in response to the Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed COVID-19 school vaccine mandate.

A hot topic for three of the local school districts, the GJUHSD board meetings have had numerous public comments on both sides of the proposed mandate.

The resolution states that “the Board supports the ability of parents, students, and workers to choose for themselves whether or not [to] receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The resolution “urges Governor Newsom and the legislature to include a personal belief exemption when the COVID-19 vaccine is added to the other vaccinations required for in-person school attendance.”

Changes are on the horizon for how GJUHSD trustees are elected – changes forced on the district due to a lawsuit threatened by Malibu attorney Kevin Shenkman. Shenkman successfully sued several California cities, forcing them to change their elections to a by-district system. Shenkman believes that an at-large election system puts minority candidates at a disadvantage.  

Currently GJUHSD trustees are elected by voters at large in the district that encompasses Galt, Herald, Thornton and parts of Acampo. Under the new “by-trustee area” system, each trustee will instead represent a small area within the district. The trustee must reside in the designated area boundary and is elected only by those residing within that trustee area.

This new system will begin with the 2022 election.

Thursday’s meeting was the first of many public hearings the district will hold before deciding on trustee-area maps.

Trustees were presented preliminary data gathered from the recent Census regarding district demographics. The next public hearing with additional information will be presented at the Jan. 13 regular board meeting.

A proposed trustee-area map is slated to be presented at the March 10 meeting.