Sonoita School Board members listen to public comments before voting to eliminate one teaching position and not to renew the Superintendent’s contract. (From left) Ian Tomlinson, Kelly Bostock, Ginny Cosbey, Sharon McCone, Mike Sweedo, Christopher Bonn. Photo by Marion Vendituoli

The Sonoita Elementary School District Board voted unanimously at their meeting on March 12 to eliminate one teaching position at the Elgin Elementary School, to move 5th grade into the middle school, and to decline to renew the contract for School Superintendent Christopher Bonn.

The move to eliminate one position at the school was prompted by a $150,000 budget shortfall in the FY 2018/2019 budget. School Board president Mike Sweedo blames the state for the shortfall. “The state is shirking its responsibilities,” he said, “and the difference has to be made up by the local taxpayers.” There is a property tax cap in effect, precluding the school from collecting additional funding at the local level.

Linda Mott, the present 1st grade teacher will not be returning. The 5th grade teacher will move to 3rd grade, and the 2nd grade teacher will move to 1st grade. Mott, who was named ‘Educator of the Month’ in February, is being let go, according to Sweedo, because she is a retired teacher. “Protocol is that retired teachers are first to go,” he said.

Other cost saving options under consideration would have been to eliminate the middle school art position, a middle school teacher, the PE/counselor teacher, library/media specialist and student achievement coach positions. These were all unanimously
voted against by the board.

The board then voted unanimously to decline to approve a new contract for Superintendent Bonn, whose contract expires in June 2018. Bonn has been the Sonoita School District Superintendent since 2014. “We didn’t like the contract,” Sweedo said. “We declined to review the contract that was submitted to the board.”

On the agenda of a school board meeting scheduled for March 20, which was subsequently cancelled, were actions to place Bonn on administrative leave until the end of his contract. “When I saw how the agenda was written, I had it pulled,” Sweedo said. When asked what the motivation for including the administrative leave on the agenda could have been, Sweedo replied, “People can think whatever they want.” He declined to comment on whether there was dissatisfaction with Bonn’s performance at the school. Superintendent Bonn could not be reached for comment.

The next Sonoita School District School Board meeting has been scheduled for April 3.