LaPlante chosen to lead as school board president

DOWNEY - Don LaPlante, who has served on the Downey Unified School District board of education since 1979, was once again elected president by his peers Tuesday at the board's reorganization session.He replaced last year's president Nancy Swenson, Trustee Area No. 5 representative, who for years has worked as a member of the executive staff at Raytheon Systems. Swenson received congratulations from her colleagues for "a job well done" in the past year. Also elected were Willie Gutierrez as vice-president and Tod Corrin as clerk. Both Gutierrez and Corrin have each served previously as DUSD president. Gutierrez, chief financial officer at Premier Business Centers (PBC), reputedly the nation's largest privately held executive suite company, represents Trustee Area No. 3. He is past president of Downey Kiwanis International. Corrin, representing Trustee Area No. 2, is the corporate financial vice-president of the R.H. Peterson Company, a local manufacturer of barbecues and fireplace products, and continues his very active involvement with the Downey Family YMCA. La Plante, after whom Warren High School's science building was named and who represents Trustee Area No. 4, is retired from years of teaching English and history for the Duarte Unified School District. Also on the agenda were the naming of board members to serve on the various committees: Audit Committee - board members Corrin, D. Mark Morris, and Martha Sodetani; Budget Committee - Gutierrez, Barbara Samperi, and Swenson; School/City Coordinating Committee - Corrin and Swenson; Representative for Elecing Members to the County Committee on School District Organization - LaPlante; Representative to Los Angeles County School Trustees Association - La Plante. Meanwhile, more than one board member lavished praise on the "fine performance" by Downey Adult School, in terms of its expanded course offerings and for showing a profit from its operations, no matter how small, as compared to surrounding adult schools which have experienced contraction. The board also approved the positive certification from Asst. Superintendent/Business Services Kevin Condon that DUSD can meet its financial obligations for the remainder of the 2012-13 fiscal year, and onto two successive years thereafter. Condon commented that the passage of Prop. 30 effectively restored what would have been some $9.6 million in cuts in the DUSD budget; as it happens, the projected deficit this year amounts to less than $1million, and, assuming flat revenues in the next year and the next, he conservatively forecasts budget deficits of $2.6 million and $2.0 million-decidedly much better than the feared draconian cuts to the education budget had Prop. 30 not passed. By the way, while a suitable replacement for the retired Condon hasn't been found, the board approved his appointment as interim Assistant Superintendent/Business Services meanwhile. The board also recognized Downey High School as CIF Southeastern Division Football champions, with head coach Jack Williams presenting the victorious team members. The board also heard a presentation from Colette Oestreich, senior director of budget and finance, honoring Karen Quick, senior accounting technician, in the area of budget. Oestreich said Quick's handling of voluntary deductions for the school staff and their families is "truly exemplary." She expressed everybody's thanks for her "dedication, hard work, and professionalism" in managing the district's health and welfare plans, which include the medical, dental, and vision insurance policies for about 1500 current staff and over 150 retirees; employee memberships in and payments of union dues and other voluntary deductions such as disability, cancer and life insurance coverages and tax deductible contributions; and other related details.

********** Published: December 13, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 35